This article is based on the work of Graham & Perin (2007), The DfE (2012) and other influential research. In the case of Graham & Perin (2007), their meta-analysis comes from the largest collection of writing research ever pooled. It analysed all contemporary research into the teaching of writing and looked for significant patterning. You can find a more formal summary of how their and the DfE’s findings marry together to create these 13 strategies at the bottom of this article. This is what research analysis concluded:
1. Provide opportunities for students to experience the complete writing process:
The most important finding was the clear evidence that the explicit teaching of The Writing Process is the best way to improve children’s writing outcomes. Using our Real-World Literacy approach alongside our Genre-Booklets, can allow the children in your class to take part in regular high-quality ‘free-writing’ sessions where they will do some of their most profound and accelerated learning.
2. All students can and should write:
Just like with reading, the more students write the better they get. And by the way, the more they write, the better they read. Therefore we suggest you create a classroom library where the children can donate the books they’ve read – you can supplement this with local or school library books. Make sure to include non-fiction and poetry for the children to read regularly. For more details on how to set up a rich classroom library, visit our blog-post here.
3. Help students find real purposes to write and real audiences to reach:
Through our Real-World Literacy approach, children are taught that all their writing has a purpose and that they are learning to write just like the authors they read do and how to write like real writers do outside our school walls. Publishing is a vital part of the writing process.
4. Help students exercise choice, take ownership, and assume responsibility:
Through our Real-World Literacy approach, children are taught how authors generate ideas. They no longer have to try and negotiate topics they have limited experience or knowledge of. Instead, they are confident before they begin to write because they have something in mind they are attached to and care about. To learn about teaching children to generate their own ideas, see our post here.
5. Help students get started:
Again, many children struggle with topic selection – show them prewriting techniques that unleash their thinking. This can be done through our Genre-Booklets which provide children with a Boxing-Up plan for each of their favourite Genres. It also provides them with exemplar texts written by us and children. We have also introduced ‘Writing Tricks Books‘ which we will discuss in another blog post soon.
6. Confer with individual students on their writing:
- Pupil-Conferencing is your golden differentiation opportunity — brief 1:1 moments that are goal-oriented and richly instructional. You can read about how to conduct them in a systematic way here.
7. Guide students as they draft and revise:
Undertaking ‘Writing Study’ & Functional Grammar Lessons through our Real-World Literacy approach allows you to model how to revise things. Teaching a Writing Process which includes ‘Vomit Drafting‘ and then a revision stage helps children write their best work.
8. Model for kids how you write a text:
- As part of introducing our Genre-Booklets to the children, we will write a couple of examplar texts using the Booklet’s advice and Boxing-Up sheet. This is not only helpful as a teaching resource but also when it comes to giving writing advice through Pupil-Conferencing and teaching Writing-Study.
9. Teach grammar and mechanics in the context of actual writing:
- Don’t bother with isolated skill-and-drill grammar — research shows itdoesn’t work (Graham & Perin, 2007). What does work is teaching grammar and style when kids are revising and editing work written for authentic audiences and purposes. That’s when they are keenly motivated to work on conventions.
10. Provide a classroom context of shared learning:
- Peer collaboration, not peer critique! Students need a safe, not critical, place to take risks and try things that drive their growth as writers. That’s why we allow the children to publish their of authentic pieces into the class library. This is also an excellent way to practice their handwriting – again, for a real purpose.
11. Use writing to support learning throughout the curriculum:
- Our Genre-Booklets also cover the real writing done by authors in other fields. Teach children how to write like real scientists, historians & geographers do.
12. Use evaluation constructively and efficiently:
- Research shows that red marks discourage growth in writing. Praise and thoughtful questions generate growth, not just “correcting.”
13. Lead students to learn the craft of writing:
- Setting up your classroom so that children have access to all aspects of The Writing Process is at the heart of our Real-World Literacy approach. Children have access to our Genre-Booklets via the classroom library – these include a Boxing-Up suggesting what to include and how to paragraph their piece. We then have our Revision Tips Sheet which shows the children how they can improve their work and finally we have our Proof-Reading Sheets which show children how to make their work ‘reader-ready’ for publication.