TITLE OF DEVELOPING PRACTICE EXAMPLE
Writing Week (Writing for Enjoyment)
Writing Week (Writing for Enjoyment)
Raising attainment in writing across the school is identified on our School Improvement Plan. Our Principal Teacher has a particular interest in writing and, as part of her MSc, is focusing on Curriculum Development.
In order to raise the profile of writing across the school, Writing Week was developed with the aims of:
We wanted to start to build a community of ‘committed and successful writers who write with purpose, power and pleasure.’ (R. Young and F. Ferguson, 2021)
Research tells us that ‘there has been a decline or stagnation in children’s enjoyment, volition and motivation to write…with around half showing indifference to or an active dislike of writing.’ (R. Young and F. Ferguson, 2021). The National Literacy Trust points out in their 2017 annual survey that their findings ‘highlight the importance of writing enjoyment for children’s outcomes and warrant a call for more attention on writing enjoyment in schools.’
The initial idea for Writing Week came through reading about Pie Corbett’s ‘Invention Units’.
Pupils were asked to complete a Google form to express their pre-Writing Week attitudes towards writing; the same questionnaire was distributed post-Writing Week.
A writing working group was formed who were in charge of leading the curriculum intervention within their stage. These teachers took part in a collaborative planning session where the aims, structure, organisational issues and pedagogical considerations were discussed.
Empowering pupils to be authors and to have a sense of the writer’s process was integral to achieving our aims. Teachers encouraged the children to focus on inspiration and composition. Transcriptional accuracy was given secondary status. Our aspiration was that through engagement with the writer’s process and an enhanced sense of audience, pupils would endeavour to ensure that their work was accurate, in terms of spelling, punctuation, grammar and structure, and would develop their self-regulation skills in the process.
Teachers provided a structure for the week and enough support materials (e.g. word walls, planning formats, dictionaries etc.) to allow pupil agency to flourish. The pupils were not expected to work on a genre which had not previously been taught, so that their experience was one of delving deeper into a known and familiar genre of choice.
The Experiences and Outcomes developed during the week were:
· Enjoyment and Choice - LIT 1-20a / LIT 2-20a
· Tools for Writing – LIT 2-23a / LIT 1-24a / LIT 2-24a
Sample structure of week (Second Level)
· Review known text types
· Review methods of self-assessment
· Familiarisation with core writing targets
· Corridor displays created showing model texts
· Writing Hook (to support idea generation)
· Generation of ideas through idea mapping and discussion
· Review planning formats
· Discussion with talk partners about chosen idea
· First draft started
· First draft
· Editing and revision
· Second draft
· Self-assessment and correction of spelling, grammar and punctuation
· Final draft for publication started
Post Writing Week:
· Extra time required to finish publication process
· Display planning and edited/published pieces on Writing Week display boards
· Create class book to be displayed in school library
· Photos of finished pieces digitally published on Google Classroom for families to access
Pupils completed a Google Form (questionnaire) on their feelings about writing both before and after Writing Week. A positive response to the question ‘Do you like Writing?’ went up by approximately 20%. There is also evidence of increased happiness and confidence when writing. There was an increase in positive responses to feeling that sometimes they needed to write in order to express a feeling or opinion. Many children expressed that they wanted to become a better writer and there is evidence to show that they recognise that taking time to improve their ‘finished’ piece is integral to that process.
It surprised and encouraged staff that many reluctant writers, particularly at Second Level, had a very positive reaction to Writing Week. They enjoyed the fact that transcriptional accuracy was not the focus and that they should attempt spellings but focus on continuing to let their inspiration flow in their writing.
All teachers rated the experience as Good or Very Good and staff are keen to embed Writing Week as an annual event.
Some teachers in Early and First Level said that Writing Week was an organisational challenge and that next time, they would like more adult support in class throughout the week.
In Early Level, the teachers would have liked to spend 3 days rather than 5 on Writing Week.
All teachers felt that the element of choice in both writing subject and genre had a very positive impact on the motivation and engagement of pupils.
Most teachers noticed an improvement in pupils’ self-regulation skills, but this is also recognised as an area of on-going development. This element was also challenging for teachers to relinquish control of. The aim was to allow pupils the space and autonomy to develop their own sense of being an author, which includes proof-reading, editing and redrafting. All teachers had to keep reminding themselves of this throughout the week to avoid too much direct intervention in the writing process and to allow themselves to take on the role of guide.
‘I have loved Writing Week when I wrote a narrative story about robots.’ (Reluctant writer)
‘I liked it because I got to choose my own stories. It is easier to write about what I want to write about.’ (Reluctant writer)
When asked about whether he found spelling and punctuation easier during writing week, one of our reluctant writers in Primary 7 said that, ‘I found it easier because I just wrote and sometimes I got it right and sometimes I got it wrong. If I got it wrong I just looked up in the dictionary at the end.’
‘I liked when we were writing all together.’
‘I found it really interesting when we could write what we wanted to and I loved that we could express what we wanted to.’
‘I like that you can be free with your imagination.’
‘I enjoyed writing my story and then performing it with my friends. I also enjoyed hearing all the stories that my friends wrote. I am looking forward to the book with everyone’s writing pieces in. I enjoyed showing other teachers my story too.’
‘I enjoyed not having people telling me what genre to do and what to write about.’
‘Something that I enjoyed about writing week is that I had plenty of time to improve my writing that sometimes I can struggle with so I could work on it and that I could use my own ideas that I came up with.’
‘I liked it because I really like writing and I never really have enough time to finish and we had a week so I had lots of time to finish.’
‘It was a lovely atmosphere to experience and I am very proud of what my learners achieved.’
‘I really enjoyed writing week and definitely feel it should be an annual event for the celebration of writing.’
'There was some improvement noticed in pupils’ self-regulation. This has been an area we have identified as one to develop throughout the school year.'
‘It was a different approach. I think they enjoyed the opportunity to write about a topic of their choice. They also enjoyed choosing the genre. I think that they have a lot to say and ideas for writing which they do not normally have the time and space to express.’
‘I think my class enjoyed the excitement of activities they had to explore which translated into their writing. They also enjoyed revisiting styles of writing we had previously covered and experimenting with them.’
‘They enjoyed the freedom to choose what to write about. They also enjoyed writing extended pieces.’
‘They have talked about enjoying the element of choice. I think they enjoyed exploring different genres and many of them have continued to choose to write in free time since Writing Week.’
‘Great couple of weeks. Very surprised to see reluctant writers engage with the writing process and enjoy writing! On reflection, I believe that more time must be spent on pupils having the opportunity to edit their own work, and the writing process in the Upper School should be taught over two weeks for measurable impact.’
Bonnybridge Primary School, Wellpark Terrace, Bonnybridge, UK