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The WfP Helpline: How do I get children to include features from the writing framework without killing their writing?

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Welcome to another post in our WfP Helpline series. This is where we try to answer your most pressing questions and help solve those most difficult teaching problems.

If you’ve got a question or problem you’d like help with, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post or drop us an email.

Today we are answering the question: How do I get children to include features from the writing framework without killing their writing?


1. Identify the product goals for your class writing project.

When considered carefully, these product goals will naturally include aspects of the writing framework. Make sure the product goals are on display throughout the writing project and are identified by you and your class collaboratively.

2. Let children draft freely and quickly.

If children know what they are writing about, why they are writing it, and who they are writing for, they will naturally include aspects of the writing framework as they draft. Drafting is complex so don’t set specific linguistic or grammar features that you want included. Finally, drafting shouldn’t feel like a long and laborious process.

3. Give ample time to revision.

The majority of children’s time should be spent revising. This is where we see the majority of children’s writing gains. Once children have a completed first draft, they can compare their writing to the product goals you set at the beginning of the project.

4. Create revision checklists.

Successful revision involves children knowing what to do and importantly – how to do it. Create revision checklists which attend to the product goals set for the project. During daily mini-lessons, model how you revise your own writing to attend to the aspects of the revision checklist.

5. Give children a ‘trying things out’ page.

Probably our most useful advice. If you want children to evidence that they can attend to aspects of the writing framework without killing their writing, then ‘trying things out’ pages are the best.

This is a page in their book (ideally opposite their draft) where you can invite children to try things out that are on the revision checklist. This way children show that they can apply aspects of the framework but more importantly they are showing that they can be discerning and make decisions about whether these aspects of the framework will enhance their writing or not.

Children should decide whether to include the things they’ve tried out into their revised draft or not. This type of text crafting is in keeping with the greater depth standard too.


If you have any ideas of your own, please add them to the comment box below.


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The WfP Helpline: How do I create independent writers?

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Welcome to another post in our WfP Helpline series. This is where we try to answer your most pressing questions and help solve those most difficult teaching problems. Today we are answering the question: How do I create independent writers?

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Not including for motivational or behavioural reasons, there are only two reasons why a child can’t write independently. Both have to do with the instructional decisions of the teacher and the classroom environment in which they ask children to write. Children won’t write independently if they don’t know what to do or if they don’t know how to do it. They are lacking in what is termed self-regulation.

Our research last year, which looked to understand what it is the best teachers of writing do that makes the difference, showed that they focus on using teaching practices which increase children’s self-regulation.

Here is a list of the things these teachers did that made the difference:

  • At the beginning of class writing projects, these teachers took time to discuss exemplars texts with their class. This meant children had an idea of what their writing should be looking to achieve.
  • As a class, alongside the teacher, they would generate the product goals for their writing. These are the things they felt they needed to do to make sure their writing was successful and meaningful.
  • Throughout the class writing project, in negotiation with their class, these teachers would set loose writing deadlines or process goals that the children were expected to achieve within a certain time – all on the road towards publication or performance.
  • Independence came from letting the children write from a position of strength. This was achieved by allowing the children write on self-chosen topics.
  • Through daily mini-lessons, these teachers demonstrated writing processes, and shared craft knowledge that would help the children achieve the set product goals. This meant children knew what to do but importantly how to do it.
  • Children were always invited to use what they had learnt in the daily-mini lesson during that day’s writing time.
  • These teachers had the expectation that children should write independently during daily writing time and children knew how to solve common problems on their own. Their classrooms were orderly, well resourced, and productive places to be.
  • To promote independence when drafting, children were encouraged to use ‘invented’ temporary spellings, put a line under any parts they felt didn’t make sense, and to read their developing composition quietly to a partner in moments of writer’s block.
  • Once they had finished their class writing for the day, they knew that they were to continue working on any personal writing projects they were crafting.
  • Teachers provided additional instruction through daily pupil-conferencing.
  • One teacher encouraged their most inexperienced writer to write and talk alongside two experienced peers.
  • These teachers taught responsively. They were always aware of the things their class didn’t know how to do and taught them quickly.

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What do I do when my class hates writing?

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Welcome to the WfP Helpline series. This is where we try to answer your most pressing questions about teaching writing. If you’ve got a question or problem you’d like help with, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post or drop us an email. This week we are answering the question: What do I do when my class hates writing?

According to our own research (Young & Ferguson 2021), there are lots of reasons why children can ‘hate’ writing. It can be due to negative past experiences, a lack of success, or low levels of self-belief. It can be because writing feels utterly unnatural, alien and confusing. They don’t know what they are meant to be doing or how to do it. They may also think writing is boring and pointless.

Writer-teacher Donald Graves, famously said ‘children want to write’ and I agree. I’ve yet to meet a child who actually hates writing. I’ve only met children who hate how they are taught to write.

To help combat these negative feelings, you can focus on using teaching practices which directly tackle these common issues. Our own research study looked to understand what it is the best teachers of writing do that makes the difference. We found that these teachers focused on instruction which increased children’s motivation, confidence, independence, metacognition and levels of agency and ownership.

Here is a quick list of the things these teachers were doing that was making the difference:

  • They ensured children were writing, publishing and performing for reasons beyond teacher evaluation. They took time to explain why children were undertaking the class writing project and where their writing was going to be seen, heard, or read at its end. As a class, they discussed the audience who was going to receive their writing (Young & Ferguson 2020).
  • They convinced the class that they were going to learn something valuable about writing by participating in the class project. They asked the children for their thoughts, ideas and reactions to the writing project.
  • The teacher and children together set the goals that needed to be achieved if they were going to produce excellent writing products. This meant the children knew what to consider and include if their writing was to be successful and meaningful. Importantly, they knew how to include it. This happened through daily writing-study and functional-grammar mini-lessons (Young & Ferguson 2020)
  • They talked regularly about the things they had done in previous writing projects and how that was going to be helpful to them in this project.
  • Children were regularly told that they are achieving writing goals and hitting milestones on the road towards publication and performance.
  • Through daily mini-lessons, children knew how to undertake the different writing processes. The children were able to use a writing process that suited them best. They were able to write at a pace that suited them – within a framework of loose writing deadlines (Young & Ferguson 2020).
  • Children were given time to choose what they wanted to write about.

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