Developing a school of extraordinary writers: Interconnecting the principles of world-class writing teaching

We know that, like a field of flowers, the principles of world-class writing teaching benefit greatly from rich cross-pollination.

Description of the principle

Research cannot emphasise strongly enough that all these principles, critical to the effective teaching of writing, are powerfully interconnected and should be considered as such. Think, where do you currently see your practice making links between them, and where is more development going to be required?

What Writing For Pleasure teachers do

  • These teachers apply the principles of Writing For Pleasure in rich combination.

Reviewing your practice: questions to consider

  • For the principles of Writing For Pleasure to work most effectively, they must be interconnected as much as possible. Where do you currently see your practice making links between these different principles and where is more development needed?

Supporting documents

Be reassuringly consistent

This chapter identifies the 14 enduring principles of world-class writing teaching according to a rich review of all major meta-analysis since the 1980s. This review is supplemented by evidence taken from prominent case-studies which have looked to understand what it is the most effective teachers of writing do in their classrooms that makes the difference. The authors share instructional decisions which have a proven track record of being effective across time and context. The chapter is able to conclude that the most effective teachers of writing enact the principles of effective practice as identified in scientific study. These principles include: creating a community of writers; treating every child as a writer; reading, sharing, thinking, and talking about writing; pursuing authentic and purposeful class writing projects; pursuing personal writing projects; teaching the writing processes; setting writing goals; teaching mini-lessons; pupil conferencing; balancing composition and transcription; being a writer-teacher; being reassuringly consistent; and connecting reading and writing and interconnection of the principles. A brief description of each principle and its instructional consequences is also provided.

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How Real-World Writers works

This chapter introduces Real-World Writers, an evidence-based approach to writing teaching which is informed by extensive scientific research, spanning 50 years, into effective and principled practice, case studies of some of the best-performing writing teachers, our own Writing For Pleasure research and the wisdom of professional writers. The chapter discusses the reasons for which children are moved to write and the purposes for writing, which include teaching, informing, persuading or influencing, entertaining, painting with words, reflecting and making a record, all for real audiences.

The chapter also discusses the importance of teachers focusing on the affective domains of writing, such as children gaining enjoyment and satisfaction from writing but also developing their feelings of self-efficacy, agency, volition, motivation, self-regulation and writer-identity. These writing behaviours and dispositions will promote a Writing For Pleasure pedagogy which contributes to accelerated progress and academic achievement. Real-World Writers is an inclusive and consistent approach which involves teaching and learning about rhetoric/genre, literature, writing skills and critical literacy. It supports children with English as an additional language (EAL) and with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

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Supporting resources

  • Our school residency training programme [LINK]
  • Our school INSET training [LINK]
  • Effective writing teaching booklet: What the research says [LINK]
  • What is it ‘Writing For Pleasure’ teachers do that makes the difference? Final research report – [LINK]
  • The 14 principles of world-class writing teaching [LINK]
  • Our Writing Development Scales And Assessment Toolkit [LINK]
  • Our teachers’ auditing tool [LINK]
  • Guidance on teaching writing and the new Ofsted framework [LINK]

Suggested further reading

  • Young, R., Ferguson, F., (2021) What can we learn from Writing for Pleasure teachers? Primary Matters (2) pp.21-25 [LINK]
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F., (2020) What the research says: the most effective ways to improve children’s writing [LINK]
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F., (2020) Creating a ‘Writing For Pleasure’ pedagogy: one teacher’s practice English 4-11 69 pp.2-5 [LINK]
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F., (2020) The common misconceptions of ‘Writing For Pleasure’ debunked [LINK]
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F., (2020) What if almost everything we thought about writing was wrong? [LINK]
  • Ferguson, F., (2019) How to teach greater depth writing in Primary Teach Primary article [LINK]
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F., (2021) What can we learn from Writing for Pleasure teachers? Primary Matters (2) pp.21-25 [LINK]
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F., (2020) What the research says: the most effective ways to improve children’s writing [LINK]
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F., (2020) Creating a ‘Writing For Pleasure’ pedagogy: one teacher’s practice English 4-11 69 pp.2-5 [LINK]
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F., (2020) The common misconceptions of ‘Writing For Pleasure’ debunked [LINK]
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F., (2020) What if almost everything we thought about writing was wrong? [LINK]
  • Ferguson, F., (2019) How to teach greater depth writing in Primary Teach Primary article [LINK]

  • Calkins, L., Ehrenworth, M., (2016) Growing extraordinary writers: leadership decisions to raise the level of writing across a school and a district In The Reading Teacher  Vol.70(1) 7-18
  • Calkins, L., Hohne, K., Robb, A., (2015) Writing Pathways Heinemann: USA
  • CLPE (2017), Writing in primary schools: what we know works London: CLPE
  • Department of Education WA (2013) First steps: writing map of development Department of Education WA [http://det.wa.edu.au/stepsresources/detcms/education/stepsresources/first-steps-literacy/writing-map-of-development.en?cat-id=13601995 Accessed: 27th April 2019] Department of Education WA (2013) First steps: writing map of development Department of Education WA
  • Dombey, H., (2013) Teaching Writing: What the evidence says UKLA argues for an evidence-informed approach to teaching and testing young children’s writing UKLA: London
  • Grossman, P. L., Loeb, S., Cohen, J., & Wyckoff, J. (2013). Measure for measure: The relationship between measures of instructional practice in middle school English Language Arts and teachers’ value-added scores. American Journal of Education, 119(3), 445–470.
  • Gadd, M., (2014) ‘What is critical in the effective teaching of writing?’ The University Of Auckland
  • Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007) Writing Next: Effective Strategies To Improve Writing Of Adolescents In Middle School & High Schools Alliance For Excellent Education
  • Graham, S., McKeown, D., Kiuhara, S., Harris, K., (2012) A Meta-Analysis of Writing Instruction for Students in the Elementary Grades In Journal of Educational Psychology Vol. 104, No. 4, 879–896
  • Hall. K, & Harding, A., (2003) A systematic review of effective literacy teaching in the 4 to14 age range of mainstream schooling Institute OF Education: London
  • Higgins, S., Martell, T., Waugh, D., Henderson, P., Sharples, J., (Education Endowment Fund) (2017) Improving Literacy In Key Stage Two EEF: London
  • Hillocks, G. (1986). Research on written composition: New directions for teaching. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.
  • Hodges, T., (2017) Theoretically speaking: an examination of four theories and how they support writing in the classroom The Clearing House Vol 90(4) pp.139-146
  • Ings, R., (2009) Writing Is Primary: Final research report. London: Esmee Fairbairn Foundation
  • Koster, M., Tribushinina, E., De Jong, P.F., Van de Bergh, B., (2015) Teaching children to write: A mata-analysis of writing intervention research Journal of Writing Research 7(2), 249-274
  • Langer, J. A. (2001). Beating the odds: Teaching middle and high school students to read and write well. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 837–880.
  • Medwell, J., Wray, D., Poulson, L. & Fox, R. (1998). Effective teachers of literacy. A report commissioned by the UK Teacher Training Agency.
  • Morizawa, G., (2014) Nesting the Neglected “R” A Design Study: Writing Instruction within a Prescriptive Literacy Program Unpublished: University of California, Berkeley. 
  • Parr, J. M., & Limbrick, L. (2010). Contextualising practice: Hallmarks of effective teachers of writing In Teaching and Teacher Education, 26(3), 583–590.
  • De Smedt, F., Van Keer, H., (2014). A Research Synthesis on Effective Writing Instruction in Primary Education. In Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 112: 693–701.
  • Troia, G., (2014) Evidence-Based Practices for Writing Instruction CEEDAR: Michigan State University.
  • Varble, M., (1990) Analysis of writing samples of students taught by teachers using whole language and traditional approaches Journal of Educational Research 83(5) p.245-251

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