BIG thanks to:

@lit4pleasure @mazmitchell @one_to_read @therroneill @larrainesharri3 @sam_creighton @smithsmm @LetsThinkForum @think_talk_org @katehitchings1 @mr_o_connor @MichaelRosenYes @Marcelavb3

for sharing your practical, research-based and creative responses to this month’s #writingforpleasure questions.

Question 1

  • I’ve always liked to share with my classes how, when I’m reading, I’ll be on the look out for potential writing ideas. You just read a phrase, something occurs or something is said that sparks an idea in your mind. I get those ideas down quickly in my notebook
  • Sometimes they’ll turn into something – sometimes they won’t. They are always on hand though – and great in times of writer’s block!
  • With our own process, a simple way is to show them. When I’m modelling writing I sit & write in front of the kids & talk about what I’m doing & why why, I make changes & think out loud & ask their opinions. More powerful than plonking a pre-done one on the screen
  • I think sharing a piece of writing you’ve completed can be pretty advantageous too – particularly with the right class. You can explain your decisions and intent – they can comment on whether you’ll successful.
  • Children are also incredibly curious when it is this way round. They ask you a lot of questions and you can share your ‘writing secrets, tricks and tips’ with them.
  • How did you…?
  • Why did you…?
  • How can I…?
  • What’s…?
  • Where did…?
  • How come you…?
  • Anything that stimulates discussion about writing (or anything) is a winner! When you are writing with them it can be interesting to ask them these questions, especially if kids don’t agree on which way to take the piece.
  • Author visits are golden. Kids love hearing authors share how/where/when they write.2. Modelling the writing process on a flip chart/whiteboard/paper-under-the-visualiser/computer screen whenever you can, involving lots of thinking out loud and discussion.
  • These are some of my favourite resources to use with children and teachers, where some of our greatest children’s writers share their writing processes using books that children will be familiar with.
  • Thanks very much for your enthusiasm. Please add the three @simon_francesca ones on character, plot and story-mapping! They’re fantastic too. A free resource for teachers everywhere and anywhere. Real writers (who your KS2 and KS3 students read) talking about writing!
  • Margaret Meek is a wonderful name from the past for me. If it’s the same person, she wrote some great stuff!!
  • Sure is the same person, I was torn between this and ‘On Being Literate’ for tonight’s #WritingRocks
  • On Being Literate – This is the one I remember. Good to see her work being referred too again.
  • I love ‘The Cool Web: The Pattern of Children’s Reading’, too!

Question 2

  • ‘The real author of the narrative is not only he who tells it, but also, at times even more, he who hears it.’ – Gérard Genette
  • I used Genette in my Ph.D. (now available as ‘The Author’ also through my website, an intertextual and cultural materialist approach to writing.
  • Put simply? Allowing children to write in personal response to the texts they have chosen to read.
  • Children don’t only show their comprehension when they write in response to the books they’re reading; they give something of themselves to the text too. A fair exchange of ideas is made between the reader and what’s read.
  • Books children choose to read may be important to them in ways that we can’t initially see. A failure to recognise this will result in children only ever being receivers of texts rather than the dynamic creators of a writer & reader self-identity. A literary identity.
  • I’m fascinated by the responses to very open subjects to write about: A time away from home-A nightmare-a story about a place we visited. Genres changed subconsciously. This is underpinned by a rich variety of stuff I’m reading in class…and their own reading!
  • I think I’ve said before…but your book ‘Did I hear you write’ has always been there in my practice somewhere. This year more consciously and explicitly than ever. Getting children to write about their experiences has never been so rewarding!
  • This is tough. Children by definition are inexperienced. Those who read widely (& watch quality film) can rise to the challenge of experimenting with varied writing genres. Children who are lucky enough to travel and explore widely with family can make an even better fist of it.
  • I read a LOT of free-writing set in computer games
  • Didn’t do Sarah Graley or Terry Pratchett any harm to writing about computer games
  • In my experience most children are able to write about their own lives. Even if it seems not too exciting for us adults. It’s so new and fresh, children have an intriguing way of seeing the world around them, let them write about it. Maybe they can hear and see more than us.
  • It can be largely about giving them the confidence to do it. Especially at the start of a new year with a class I hear so often the question ‘Can I do (whatever) in this sort of story?’ to which the response is ‘it’s your story.’ They can feel restrained by norms.
  • There is definitely something about being given permission to write what you want with a couple of caveats of course.
  • Other than that one, two, three and four year olds are experimenting with speech genres all the time.
  • This is true. Little ones who engage in pretend play are role-playing in genre (superheroes, fairytale characters, the animal kingdom, families etc etc)
  • Great! I like the way you put that.
  • This connects with what @smithsmm says about comprehension. That comprehension can‘t be solely learned in the classroom but comes from life & literary experience that is built over time. The more children have to draw on, the easier it is to write in a new direction
  • I’d love to dump the word ‘comprehension’. In fact what we do is ‘interpret’ using the full holistic range of our knowledge of live and other texts. This allows us to be affected, to make predictions, to guess, to collect up what’s happened before, to analogise etc.
  • Completely agree, we use our experience and knowledge to understand, interpret and to make meaning of everything around us and the things we read.
  • Not a fan of the word “comprehension” either.
  • We prefer constructing understanding(s) in Let’s Think in English, plural as we increasingly take multiple perspectives.

Question 3

  • This one is close to my heart so forgive me if I ramble…

1) Comics are really important and are way undervalued in schools as a viable and rich literacy all of it’s own.

2) Some children (not all) want to write their own. This is a really good thing and should be allowed! As Meek says they have been ignored for far too long.

3) I love how children who want to write them can structure them in interesting ways…the challenge then is to show them how these comics can support their extended ‘formal’ writing skills too (note: NOT be replaced by…)

4) There’s a horrible snobbery around comics. They are NOT NOT NOT less ‘good’ than novels or formal ways of writing. End ramble (for now!)

  • Do they write comic style in lessons? Own time? If the latter, how do you manage such personalised response to supporting how comics support formal writing? Would you encourage reading some comics more than others?
  • Some have written comics as their ‘big project’ this term. I look at the big picture …. allowing children to write this way shows them I care about their writing. Sometimes, the writing they will want/be required to do will be more formal. And they will be CONFIDENT.
  • Historically, the narrative themes that tend to inspire graphic novels have included: good versus evil, strengths & weaknesses, revenge, betrayal, haunting back-stories, understanding one’s self & saving the people & the things we love.
  • They are universal themes which have been sources of great writing for centuries.
  • And narrative themes that inspire e.g. Beano/Dandy have included pea shooters, whoopee cushions, dogs gnashing postmen’s trouser legs and picking on weedy kids with glasses. I was brought up on this quality material.
  • Actually to return to genre exploration – there is also science fiction in The Numskulls (one of my personal faves)
  • I did a class read of Numskulls one day for story time (under the visualiser). Within days all my Beanos had been pinched from the book corner. It was the first experience of reading a proper old-school comic strip for the majority of my Year 3 class.
  • I have a few talented illustrators in my class. Started a comic club so they could collaborate. Ch from other classes asked to join. Now room is packed every Friday at lunch. Publishing a comic collection soon
  • I was thinking of the magazine your children published on a few occasions last year. They always featured at least a couple of comics. What was it called, please?
  • The Bean Soup Press. Ch this year have renamed it Supa Dupa Comix
  • I loved that name. I love this name. Can’t wait to read what they publish.


Question 4

  • As we read, we (un)consciously make connections to our every-day lives & experiences, our feelings, personal characteristics, philosophies & morality. Unfortunately, whilst at school, children’s unique & personal responses to the texts they read can be undervalued.
  • Too often they are asked to simply comply with and replicate the teacher’s response. So you only have one piece of writing being shared in response to text instead of 30+ This feels like a tragedy to me.
  • When children write their response to a text, it can be shared with others in the class to the benefit of everyone’s comprehension. All of a sudden children are exposed to a wide range of thoughts, opinions and creative re-imaginings.
  • Often children replay social experiences in their writing. It’s not uncommon to read a ‘revenge tale’ from a child who has been wronged by a classmate in the playground. A less powerful child can find their voice or their brawn on the page. Empowerment.
  • One thing to say here: ‘AUTHOR’SCHAIR!”. Getting the children to take charge of a space in the writing lesson that they lead to read and discuss their writing (away from me as far as possible) shows all sorts: how different we are…what makes different people tick/laugh/cry…
  • It has been absolutely fab to watch the children talk about and be surprised/supportive of each other as individuals and as writers. It’s the Bee’s Knees in my opinion.
  • Going to unashamedly and proudly declare a self-interest here. As a storyteller (@therroneill) with a very different background sharing that background with children through story and books gives them a very different perspective and is all good material to compare contrast and create.