The Craft of Writing

By Professor Debra Myhill, Director of the Centre for Research in Writing, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean, University of Exeter

Writing is a craft, a hefting of ideas, phrases, images into shape; a weaving of words into worlds.  And writers know this.  One of the striking aspects of the creative partnerships that writers forge with teachers on the Arvon Teachers as Writers residentials is a sharing of their craft.  We were privileged to witness rich conversations between teachers and writers, exploring the teachers’ unfolding texts and discussing everything about the craft of writing, from the choice of a word to the narrative perspective taken.  Continue reading “The Craft of Writing”

What do you know about your writers?

By Teresa Cremin, Professor of Literacy in Education, The Open University

As the year begins, what do you know about your young writers? Indeed, what do they know about you as a writer – anything?

Many teachers will want to add to information transferred from last year and assess their students’ writing, offering a range of activities that seek to establish a baseline, and enable tailored targets to be set. Fair enough.  Such knowledge is needed. But is it enough?

I worry that these early formative assessment activities will focus predominantly on the writing skills, as currently defined by national assessment rubrics, and may not include attention to the young writers themselves: their attitudes, everyday practices and sense of themselves as writers. Merely identifying that more work on aspects of SPaG is needed will tend to frame both the year’s work and the children’s perceptions of what writing involves. Continue reading “What do you know about your writers?”

What if

By Nick Stimson, playwright, theatre director and Writer Co-Mentor on the Teachers as Writers project

Whether it be writing a poem, composing a song or symphony, labouring at a novel or a play, painting a picture or making a sculpture, or participating as an active maker in any creative art form, we have but one aim: to unlock and access the imagination. The complex skills and techniques we acquire along the way have only one purpose: to crack open that well-guarded safe that contains the imagination. Continue reading “What if”

A fun place to write

By Alan Durant, author and Writer Co-Mentor on the Teachers as Writers project 

I visit schools a lot as an author and I often ask the children if they have a special place they like to think and write at home. A few hands go up initially – “in my bedroom”, “under my bed”, “at the kitchen table” – then suddenly everyone wants to join in – “in my tree house”, “under the dining room table”, “in the attic”, “in my dad’s shed”. That’s the cue for me to tell them that for years I wrote in a shed at the bottom of the garden (“like Roald Dahl”) Continue reading “A fun place to write”

What really matters?

By Anthony Wilson, Senior Lecturer, Graduate School of Education, University of Exeter

I was on the phone to a writer friend the other week. In itself this is a rare occurrence: normally we communicate by email, text, and, what another writer friend calls the ‘quaint’ exchange of letters. In a year’s time we will be gearing up to tutor a week of poetry writing at Totleigh Barton, our first course together for thirteen years. We are very excited. But because Arvon rightly plans so far ahead, we needed to get our blurb together with about a week’s notice. Continue reading “What really matters?”

Your writing; your choice!

By Professor Debra Myhill, Director of the Centre for Research in Writing, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean, University of Exeter

This past week I’ve been lucky enough to spend a week in Australia, meeting up with teachers and teacher educators who share my interest in writing and the teaching of writing. It is always refreshing to get an insight into how teachers in other countries think and what their expectations are in the classroom. Australia has only just introduced a new National Curriculum as previously the various States determined the curriculum; they have high-stakes testing as we do; and they have concerns about the academic achievement of socially-disadvantaged groups, particularly the indigenous aboriginal groups.  Continue reading “Your writing; your choice!”

Anyone can be a poet

By Becky Swain, Head of Learning and Participation, Arvon 

Last week one of the questions asked in Teresa Cremin’s blog was, ‘Can time be made to create a final anthology of collected works by your class – a tangible artefact that celebrates your collective success as writers?’ Whilst our Teachers as Writers research project focused on working with professional writers to develop their narrative fiction, a class of Year 6 pupils in one primary school in Somerset did just that. Pupils worked with their teacher and a professional writer, Louisa Adjoa-Parker, to put together a stunning anthology of poems which they titled Anyone Can Be a Poet. Continue reading “Anyone can be a poet”

Just enough writing time?

By Teresa Cremin, Professor of Literacy in Education, The Open University 

With just three weeks to go before schools are out for the summer, can you make more time for writing and write alongside your young writers? Can you leave behind the end-of-year writing assessments/interim framework now? Why not give yourself permission to sit down amongst them and have a go at doing what they’re doing: freewriting, drawing, talking and preparing to compose the final piece of the year – preferably a piece of their own choosing. Continue reading “Just enough writing time?”

On choosing to write

By Becky Swain, Head of Learning and Participation, Arvon

During the Teachers as Writers (TAW) research, one of the professional writers made the following observation of the teachers who joined us for a residential creative writing week:

“When we encouraged them to really totally switch off their inner editor and just write – they were producing work that was really extraordinarily fresh and powerful because they lost all kind of inhibitions and self –consciousness.”

I saw first-hand that week some of the sheer pleasure that teachers found in freewriting – or what the group termed ‘Just WriteContinue reading “On choosing to write”

Tell the truth. Take your time.

By Ian Eyres, Senior Lecturer, The Open University

Before my involvement with Teachers as Writers I was for some years involved with a large-scale English teacher development programme in Bangladesh called English in Action (EIA). A couple of years into the project, a group of four or five EIA colleagues, including myself, became unusually excited by the results of one of our evaluation studies. Continue reading “Tell the truth. Take your time.”