Why do we do it?
Most pupils with delayed literacy skills are resistant to writing. Research points to volume and regularity as key drivers of development: if pupils do not write, they will not develop these skills. Many pupils are also resistant to writing because they see it as too difficult, hard work or just plain boring. By giving them freedom to write what they want, they will hopefully start to get into the habit of writing.
What’s in it for me?
• Improved pupil engagement - they engage with writing, they engage with the subject and they can also engage with their peers.
• Over time, pupils will be able to write for more sustained periods.
• Your own enjoyment – some of what they produce is outstanding!
In practice (In English)
Pupils are given time once a week to write whatever they want. This is separate from any work they have been doing. Typically they choose to write creatively but some write in diary form narratives, letters, jokes etc. Although they are not asked to do so, some pupils want to share what they have written and end up working collaboratively to develop their texts.
The work is not marked in a traditional sense. The focus is not on spelling or grammar (as some learners resist writing for fear of making these mistakes) but on fostering an environment where pupils feel able and want to write.
How could I use it in my teaching?
Rather than having total freedom, classes could be encouraged to write about the current topic – what’s caught their interest; a creative scenario; an argument about anything with which they agree or disagree; questions that they might have; a quiz for their friends; a reflective journal…
Pieces of writing could be used as stimulus for AVUs, used as part of an assessment, developed for use as a folio in S4…