Be reassuringly consistent

What makes a publishing house great? The easy answer is the consistency with which it produces books of value over a lengthy period of time. – Robert Gottlieb

Description of the principle

Good classroom organisation is absolutely vital as it facilitates learning, ensures focus and builds writing confidence. It also saves time – time that can be used beneficially by the teacher and the children. Resources will be visible and consistent across classes and the whole school and will communicate strategies clearly. Children need the reassurance of knowing how a writing lesson is expected to proceed. 

A routine of mini-lesson, writing time and class sharing is the most effective routine teachers can adopt. A mini- lesson is a short instruction on an aspect of writing which is likely to be useful to the children during that day’s writing. During writing time, teachers conference with groups or individuals. A well-organised classroom ensures children write largely independently. For example, children will know the routines for working on class writing projects and that, once finished for the day, they may concentrate on their personal projects.

What Writing For Pleasure teachers do

  • Teachers show excellent classroom organisation and behaviour management. There is a strong emphasis on routines, promoting self-regulation, expectations and focused collaborative learning among their children.
  • Teachers have a clear routine of mini-lesson (10 to 20 minutes), writing time (30-40 minutes) and class sharing/author’s chair (10-15 minutes).
  •  Their mini lessons are a short direct instruction on an aspect of writing which was likely to be useful to the children during that day’s writing.
  • Teachers teach from their own craft regularly – sharing their writing ‘tips, tricks and secrets’; alternatively, they will share examples from literature taken from the class library.
  • In the class-sharing / author’s chair session, children will share their developing pieces and discuss with their peers the writing goals they have achieved that day.

Reviewing your practice: questions to consider

  • Do you often follow a similar, efficient and easy routine of: mini-lesson, writing time and class-share/author’s chair?
  • Do you set manageable time allocations for different parts of the lesson to ensure children undertake the act of writing regularly?
  • Do you ensure routines, access to resources and behavioural expectations are clear?

Examples from the classroom

Write a little – share a little

Supporting documents

Be reassuringly consistent

This chapter begins by unpicking the effectiveness of the writing workshop routine: mini-lesson, writing time, pupil conferencing, and class sharing. Comparisons are made between the early conceptions of the writing workshop approach and more contemporary manifestations. How teachers can give responsive teaching, ensure children receive a good balance between direct and explicit instruction, and ample time to write are also shared. Discussion about writing as a mastery-based approach, including the importance of repeated meaningful practice, is offered. Suggestions for classroom organisation and routines are also given. The chapter concludes with examples of effective practice from the classrooms of high-performing Writing For Pleasure teachers.

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How Real-World Writers works

This chapter discusses the importance of a reassuringly consistent routine for individual writing lessons. It explains how a good writing lesson will typically follow the writing workshop routine of mini-lesson, writing time and class sharing. It explains how a good mini-lesson is short and responsive to what the class’ learning needs are presently. Using research evidence, it makes clear that the most effective writing instruction includes teaching writing study and writing craft mini-lessons so as to increase children’s level of independence through self-regulation strategy development (SRSD). These lessons involve teaching techniques and strategies children can use independently to navigate the writing processes. It discusses how, for children’s knowledge and skill in grammar and punctuation use to improve, children should be taught to use it functionally through functional grammar lessons. Next, the chapter discusses how, as children become more experienced, they should be given agency to set their own process goals and deadlines. A rationale is given as to why children must have daily and sustained time for writing. Advice is given about what teachers should be doing whilst children are writing. Finally, it is explained how teachers can allow time for class sharing and how to conduct an effective ‘author’s chair’.

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Suggested further reading

  • Fletcher, R., (2001) Writing workshop: the essential guide, USA: Heinemann
  • Hall, K., & Harding, A. (2003). A systematic review of effective literacy teaching in the 4 to 14 age range of mainstream schooling (Tech. Rep.). Research Evidence in Education Library London Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education
  • Jacobson, J., (2010) No More ‘I’m Done!’, USA: Stenhouse Publishers
  • Konrad, M., Helf, S., & Joseph, L. M. (2011). Evidence-based instruction is not enough: Strategies for increasing instructional efficiency. Intervention in School and Clinic, 47(2), 67–74.
  • 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.
  • Paris, S. G., & Winograd, P. (2003). The role of self-regulated learning in contextual teaching: Principles and practices for teacher preparation (CIERA Report). Accessed on 9th July 2019 [http://www.ciera.org/library/archive/2001-04/0104parwin.htm]
  • Rooke & Winchester (2013) Transforming Writing: Final Evaluation Report National Literacy Trust: London
  • Toppino, T. C., Cohen, M. S., Davis, M. L., & Moors, A. C. (2009). Metacognitive control over the distribution of practice: When is spacing preferred? Journal of Experimental Psychology, Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 35, 1352–1358.

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