Giving students a purpose for writing – don’t Underestimate The Power Of Publishing:
It’s The Key To High-Quality Independent Writing
Writing: As part of our independent writers blog series, we’ve been reflecting on why the children in our class write the way they do.
We recently asked the children why they take so much care over the editing of their pieces – particularly their spellings and it was interesting to hear their responses.
More people will read your work.
Improves my work for the people who read it.
I don’t do it for you – I do it for my readers.
I want my reader to read it all.
I want everyone in the class to understand it.
Then one of our students said this:
If I know it’s not going into the class-library, I wouldn’t bother to edit it so well.
Then the children started reflecting on how writing was taught to them in their previous years:
We were writing for nothing.
I would have been better if we’d been able to publish.
We couldn’t do anything with our writing.
We did neat copies but no one saw them.
I didn’t know what publishing was.
Why The Children Edit
I then asked who would still edit their work carefully if they knew it wasn’t going to be published. Only 5/33 said they would. The reasons why they still would were that it would ‘help them for the future’ (as opposed to the present!) or that they would do it for their own sense of satisfaction. Worryingly though were the 28/33 that said they wouldn’t bother to edit so well. 25/33 said that they edited well because they knew their friends would be reading it. Perhaps this is why you’re not getting the writing outcomes you want from the children in your class?
Interestingly, 30/33 of my class wished they had been taught to proof-read, edit and publish earlier than year 5.
31/33 of my pupils believed it was important for their writing development that they be allowed to publish work into the class book stock. Only 2/33 said they didn’t mind if their work stayed within their literacy books alone.
We didn’t touch on the impact publishing must also have on their desire to compose great pieces but if one takes the view that children generally consider editing to be the least enjoyable and interesting part of the writing process and this was their conscientious attitude towards it when they are allowed to publish – then we can reasonably assume that publishing makes a massive difference to children’s writing outcomes more generally too.
So if you want your children to write with a bit more care and attention, you should consider allowing them to regularly publish their writing into your class library.
In our class, we have anthologies for the different genres the children tend to write in – these include:
You can read more about how we get the children to edit their work by going here.
This blog is written and run by two UK Primary School Teachers. We both work in the same class in KS2 – one as a TA and the other as the class teacher. Our school is a very ‘normal’ Local Authority State School.
I studied French and Russian at Birmingham University, and later gained two MAs, one in Linguistics and the other in Children’s Literature.
I am a serving Primary school teacher of many years’ experience. I have worked in both the maintained and the independent sectors as SENCO and Deputy Head. With a strong background in language and literacy I have worked with School’s Television, developing storypacks to support children new to English. I am currently interested in the possibilities of teaching literacy through process writing throughout the Primary phase of schooling.
I began my teaching life on a Wednesday morning in a tiny Victorian school building inside a square of iron railings up a backstreet in Handsworth, Birmingham. I was there because I needed to earn some money to support myself in beginning a Ph D, and the Education Office had sent me to St. Silas’ C. of E. school where they had no teacher for ‘Infant 2’. Thus I found myself on that day without preparation, training or support, required immediately to take charge of a class of thirty six infants, some of whom were new to English. I can’t remember exactly how I passed the day, but I do recall that the next day I took in my copies of ‘Winnie the Pooh’ and ‘Just-so Stories’ because I had loved them as a child. Amazingly, they went down well. After this initial baptism of fire, followed by several months of surviving mainly by picking up tips from other teachers, I gradually began to feel that I might be getting somewhere. In the end, ‘Infant 2’ won out over the urban poetry of Baudelaire. I have never regretted this development.
Later, doing an MA in linguistics and one in children’s literature gave me an academic background which convinced me of the rightness of the psycholinguistic theory of reading and writing, which foregrounds the achievement of meaning and communication. This has always been the one for me and I’ve based my teaching on it. I’ve stayed firmly in the classroom because there is no better place to discover and try out ways of enabling children to read and write with enjoyment and commitment. Through this website I am hoping to share the kinds of “quality” experiences we can give children at home and school which might create and enhance for them the pleasures of being literate.
I studied Primary Education with History & Geography as my specialism, at The University Of Brighton, and later gained an MA in Education with Linguistics.
I am a serving Primary school teacher of around five years experience. I have worked in both the maintained and independent sectors. When I was young, I didn’t realise that literature and the written word were for me to use or enjoy. If I can be honest with my reader for a moment – I very often still don’t. However, everyday, I’m turning what feels like a foggy day into bright sunshine alongside the children in my class.
This history, I feel, puts me in an excellent position to give children writing advice because it is very likely I’ve been through their writing issue recently myself. I now write often. I’m finding my writing voice all the time and now I am teaching children how to find theirs too.
As a result, you can understand why I am currently so interested in the possibilities of teaching writing as a craft and creating a learning environment which produces: readers and writers for life and children who can use writing to act out onto the world (for a multiple of reasons and for many different audiences). I want children to enter the literacy club as early as possible, so they have control of it and can use it effectively and for pleasure in their futures.
Great post and a wonderful example of the observer effect or ‘look lively, the boss is coming’ as it may be in real life. Here the boss is the reader. Excellent, thanks!