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

To Be Continued…’ Writer-Teachers Connecting Classrooms

An Idea Of His Own

Peer-to-Peer Writing Conferences

The power of children requesting their own writing lessons

Mr Creighton, can we send our stories to some experts for feedback?

Having An Ideas Party & Taking A Writing Register With Year Four

Supporting documents

Be reassuringly consistent

This chapter begins by examining the value of talk in the writing community of the classroom. It explores the crucial role played by dialogic teaching and exploratory talk in effective writing teaching. This is followed by discussion surrounding the kind of talk that would be expected within a Writing For Pleasure classroom, including the vital role direct and explicit instruction has in the development of apprentice writers, making the implicit explicit and the role of metacognition in writing for pleasure. Positive and productive interactions between writer-teachers and pupils are also presented, as is the role of collaborative talk and writing amongst pupil-writers. The importance of specific lessons in how to talk is explored, including how children can productively share their developing compositions with one another. The chapter concludes with examples of effective practice from the classrooms of high-performing Writing For Pleasure teachers.


Supporting resources

  • Our Children As Writers survey [LINK]
  • Our BIG BOOK Of Writing Mini-Lessons: Lessons That Teach Powerful Craft Knowledge For 3-11 Year Olds [LINK]
  • Our Guide To Pupil-Conferencing With 3-11 Year Olds: Powerful Feedback & Responsive Teaching That Changes Writers [LINK]

Suggested further reading

  • Young, R., (2021) Developing Children’s Talk For Writing [LINK]
  • Young, R., (2021) How Important Is Talk For Writing? [LINK]

  • 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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