Read, share, think and talk about writing

Through others we become ourselves. -Lev S. Vygotsky

Description of the principle

In writing workshop, children are given ample opportunities to share and discuss with others (including teachers) their own and others’ writing in order to give and receive constructive criticism and celebrate achievement. The writing community begins to build its own ways of talking and thinking as writers. This happens best when the writing environment is positive and settled in tone and has a sense of fostering a community of writers.

What Writing For Pleasure teachers do

  • Children are given ample opportunity to share and discuss with others (including their writer-teacher) their own and others’ writing in order to give and receive constructive criticism, writerly advice and celebrate achievement.
  • Writing is seen as a social act, and dialogic talk is important at all stages of the writing process.
  • Children are encouraged to talk about the content of their writing, their writing processes, and to share any techniques or strategies they thought were working particularly well for them.
  • Whilst talk is an integral part of any writing time, so is maintaining a low level of noise to avoid disturbing fellow writers.

Reviewing your practice: questions to consider

  • Is writing seen as a social act in your classroom?
  • Do you see talk as vital to the process of writing? Is there is an emphasis on writing-related talk?
  • Do you ritually, give children ample time for reading and discussing their writing with each other at different stages of the writing process?
  • Do you understand the power of children sharing their finished pieces in the class library and beyond?
  • Do you model and take part in children talking about and reflecting on writing, including: what they’ve done, what they are thinking of doing, what they’ve learnt and/or what their writing goals are?
  • Do you talk is about writing content, writing structures and the writing processes?

Examples from the classroom

Author’s Chair

Supporting documents

Suggested further reading

  • Britton, J., (1970) Language and Learning, Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.
  • Creber, P., (1990) Thinking Through English Buckingham: Open University Press
  • Dyson, A.H. (1989) Multiple Worlds of Child Writers: Friends Learning to Write, New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Dix, S., (2016) Teaching writing: a multilayered participatory scaffolding practice In Literacy Vol. 50, 1 23-31
  • Dix, S., Cawkwell, C., (2011) The influence of peer group response: building a teacher and student expertise in the writing classroom In English Teaching Practice & Critique 10(4) 41-57
  • Fisher, R., (2010) Talk to generate ideas In Fisher, R., Myhill, D., Jones, S., Larkin, S., (2010) Using Talk To Support Writing London: SAGE
  • McCallister, C., (2008) the author’s chair revisted In Curriculum Inquiry 38(4), 455-471
  • Myhill, D., (2010) Writing aloud – the role of oral rehearsal In Fisher, R., Myhill, D., Jones, S., Larkin, S., (2010) Using Talk To Support Writing London: SAGE
  • Parr, J., Jesson, J., McNaughton, S., (2009) Agency and Platform: The Relationships between Talk and Writing In The SAGE Handbook of Writing Development
  • Perry, K., (2012) What is literacy? A critical overview of sociocultural perspectives. Journal of Language and Literacy Education 8 (1): 50–71
  • Rosen, M., (1998) Did I Hear You Write? London: Five Leaves Publishing
  • Ruttle, K., (2004) What goes on inside my head when I’m writing? A case study of 8–9-year-old boys In Literacy Vol. 38, 2, pp. 71–77
  • Yarrow, F., Topping, K., (2001) Collaborative writing: the effects of metacognitive prompting and structured peer interaction British Journal of educational psychology  71 pp.261-282

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