The posts I have been most pleased with on this blog have been those on writing. I will cautiously assert that I think I am a better teacher of writing as a result of the thinking that has gone into these.
Today (12th May, 2015) I am updating to include some of my recent posts.
Here’s a short chronological directory:
1. The beauty of paired writing. Although I am sometimes sceptical about the efficiency of collaborative work in the English classroom, getting students to verbalise, adjust and hone sentences in pairs always seems to work a treat for me.
2. My butterfly: the sentence escalator. Modelling and redrafting sentences as a class is a great way to get students to think about the importance of sentence construction.
3. Modelling writing… and the meaning of life. Events close to home can shed metaphorical light on our understanding of learning. In this post, I discuss why we should not keep children in the dark and present a list of simple ways to model writing with and for students.
4. It takes time to write. I worry that we tend rush students through writing tasks without giving them time to think carefully about how they are constructing the piece. Here I list a few strategies for embedding ‘quality over quantity’.
5. Strategic marking for the DIRTy-minded teacher. Our English department has shifted to a culture of ‘closing the gap’ marking of extended writing over the past few months and in this post I outline some simple strategies to make this happen.
6. Differentiating the responsive way. Simple ways of scaffolding according to need during written tasks.
7. A benchmark of brilliance. My favourite post. Using a ‘mentor text’ to challenge students to write brilliantly from the moment they first walk through our doors. How better to foster a ripe climate for the ‘growth mindset’?
8. Multiple models and the journey to freedom. A range of methods for using student exemplars to demonstrate to students that success is very possible.
9. The Everest writing scaffold. How scaffolding is a long-term venture and the process through which I guide students to extended writing.
10. Pride in the product. How we can demonstrate to students that we value the quality of their written work.
11. What if we didn’t mark any books? I think the provocative title has made this one popular! Ways of providing regular feedback on extended writing without becoming a social recluse.
12. A second bite at the cherry: thoughts on redrafting writing. Why I believe redrafting is important and some simple methods to ensure that students take responsibility for improvement.
13. Beyond PEE: reuniting reading and writing. Why we must assess both the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of analytical writing… plus a list of useful scaffolds for writing like a literary critic.
14. Reflections on a scuccessful student. A post that considers the progress one year 10 boy made across the year and muses on how hard it is to pin down the reason.
15. Distilling the best out of words. Not ostensibly a post about writing, but a post about how the spoken culture of the classroom feeds into writing.
16. 726 ways to achieve good exam results: or why the solution should be smaller than the problem. Often success criteria for writing are too abstract – I consider some ways to counter this problem here.
17. Slamming the door on bad writing habits. Once bad writing habits become embedded, they are very hard to remove. I suggest some solutions here.
18. Teaching students how to plan extended writing. Planning is essential to well organised writing; however, too much teacher scaffolding can hinder this.