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Question 1


  1. The teacher assigning the subject for writing.
  2. Forcing children to use only one type of planning strategy.
  3. Insisting on 100% accuracy whilst children are drafting.
  4. Asking children to proof-reading for everything at the same time.
  5. Asking children to use a dictionary to check spellings.
  • Amen to #5. We need to teach early on “Get it down. Don’t get it right.” Oh, the power of the SFD!
  1. Insisting on silence throughout a writing session – not allowing children to talk and share as they are crafting their writing.
  2. Not allowing children to set their own process goals or writing deadlines.
  3. Not establishing product goals / success criteria for a class writing project collaboratively as a whole class.
  4. Written marking at the expense of giving live verbal feedback that the child can then attend to there and then while actually engaged in writing.
  • Conferring is oh so powerful. Red pens are not. Well, they actually are, but not in a good way!
  • Can hurt a writer to such an extent that they may never recover.
  • And it’s not about the colour of the pen. I’ve seen some disheartening comments written in green and purple, too.
  • I’ve written an overview of the principles and practices of conferencing here
  • Written marking at the expense of giving live verbal feedback is a waste of time for the teacher and the student and is meaningless for the student!
  • Insisting that writers follow a rigid format. ☹
  • Rigidity stifles creativity!
  • Race to the bottom
  • Differentiation that puts a ceiling on some children’s outcomes
  • Lack of value of children’s language, including their thinking process. Expectation that children copy the ‘teacher’s language’.
  • Heavy modelling that restricts variation and dictates pace
  • Not allowing for creative exploration.
  • Too much teacher involvement during independent writing time. Sometimes we just need to get out of their way so they can write!

Question 2


  • I would love to work out how to do this but have children whose writing needs constant help, or they cannot manage. Realise there should ideally be independence, but find it hard to achieve in practice with struggling year 3/4
  • This is really difficult to achieve if they have been brought up on a diet, for many years, of thinking they need their teacher to write. You have to unteach that and that takes time. Happened to me with my Year 5 class a few years ago.
  • I’ve been reflecting a lot on why this restrictive diet occurs. I think it has a lot do with control, often exercised by teachers who do not write themselves. This leads me to question why such teachers promote techniques that someone else has told them are effective.
  • I think some teachers are so lost as to how to teach writing that they grasp onto whatever they happen to learn. The teaching of writing is not something that is widely covered in U.S. teacher preparation course.
  • I think the skill is knowing when to start letting go. I love shared and guided by writing but it has an expiry date
  • Give ‘How to Help the Children Who Don’t Write Independently’ a read!
  • Will do! Looks perfect. Thanks.
  • Writing alongside students requires the teacher to be vulnerable, which is why many avoid it. We think we need to have all the answers, but we don’t. Making mistakes in front of our Ss shows Ss that mistakes are a part of the writing process.
  • Totally agree here. My class know that I can make mistakes. It makes them feel more comfortable about making them too. It’s okay to get it wrong.
  • I think for lots of people it isn’t what they’ve been taught (or told!) to do and not many (my experience) write WITH students in schools so who do new Ts learn from? We have to be brave and try it for ourselves and teach the students how to be more independent..
  • But once you do, the effect is very powerful. I agree that we need to show that we’re not perfect and that is uncomfortable/daunting for some Teachers.
  • So, do you write what they are writing at the same time, so follow the same task? Always, often, occasionally?
  • Not having a clear system in place of what the children are to do if they need you during this time.
  • Not having a clear system in place of what the children are to do if they need you during this time.
  • I am a Kindergarten teacher and I don’t want them getting up every five minutes to come find me, but I also don’t want them sitting their twiddling their thumbs.
  • ‘What do when you don’t know what to do’
  • Anchor charts with routines can be helpful.
  • You need to create an environment where the children are independent and confident to be able to write alongside you too, so it’s important that you develop your own confidence that the children will want to write. Agency and self-regulation – essential!
  • Agency for writing teachers, too. How can we be teachers of writers if we do not write ourselves?
  • Over scaffolding for too long. Not being able to pull that scaffold down at the right time so they become over reliant. The writing becomes yours not theirs.
  • The temptation to let them write after a few minutes while the teacher tries to squeeze in another task can be great!
  • Being able to write without interruption. Most of my class were becoming independent enough to just give it a go and complete that first bit but a few still needed constant support. They were so close though.

Question 3


  • Children are often taught that drafting is writing. Teachers make drafting long-winded & high-stakes. Drafting should be low-stakes & quick. Drafting is about finding out ‘what’ we want to write. Revising is deciding ‘how’ best to write it.
  • Revising is the best bit IMO. You’ve put in a lot of the leg work. You can now relax and play. Get all the best words in the best order and have some fun. Revising is playful and sociable.
  • Love the idea of Revising phase of writing being ‘relax and play’ puts a whole new perspective on in. Very different from the SPAG editing ‘you must do this or won’t pass’
  • With my Year 4s, I would ask them to try out any framework items on their ‘trying things out page’ only after they had drafted their piece quite freely. If they liked what they had tried out, they were welcome to add it to their composition, if not, I was still happy as the teacher because I not only had evidence they could use the grammar but also that they could make choices.
  • Like the mention of choices. Its going to have to feature more education from September or some schools could end up not engaging as much as 50 per cent of their kids after #homelearning
  • I agree.
  • I once read that students should spend only 20% of their writing time drafting. More attention needs to be applied to revising. That’s where the magic happens!
  • Maybe Silly question: would drafting include planning and prep or not?
  • This might help

  • and you may also want to take a look at our #WritingRocks chat about the messy nature of the writing process here.
  • My kids have been expected (but esp my eldest) in year 4 especially to write perfect scripted pieces straight after the idea generation phase. This puts a different perspective on the writing process
  • This saddens me. Nothing saps the joy from the writing experience like those types of expectations.
  • My son has had more scope in year 4 than his sister did. And sometimes he’s had real scope to choose what to write. But fascinating watching him home learning. He is choosing to write stories every afternoon from a one line prompt or idea. I think it was Donald Murray. He was a pretty sharp guy wasn’t he?
  • Sitting side by side, talking writer to writer. Using words like “In MY writing, I tried this ___ instead.” Plus, the more joy we show for writing, the more our students will. They feed off of the teacher’s attitude.
  • I LOVE watching children have writing conferences and feedback to each other about their writing – they are capable of some amazing feed & the more they do it, the better they get! Also, some of mine are v keen on revising in different colours – they enjoy that.
  • I learn and grow from listening to their peer conferencing!
  • What’s peer conferencing?
  • Peer conferencing is when students conference with one another.
  • At a particular stage of writing or all the way through the process?
  • It can occur at any time throughout the process. As the writing process is nonlinear, peer conferencing may take place multiple times throughout the drafting, revising, and publishing stages of a piece of writing.
  • This is really helpful thanks.
  • I think talking about our writing / the writing process & why we make particular choices/change particular things is really important. Show that real writing is messy, be messy yourself (hard when modelling!).. It needs to be a whole school approach.
  • Yes! I hate seeing perfect ‘English books.’ What author writes like that. Ideas everywhere. Changing sentences words etc. I think a lot of teachers can’t let go of a ‘beautifully tidy book’
  • Hate’s a bit of a strong work – dislike!
  • I hear you. I also ‘dislike’ perfect English books. What I ‘hate’ is perfect English books filled with identikit pieces of writing that have nothing to do with the individuals who produced them. Especially, because as a reader they’re really boring to read.
  • For me it’s about instilling that writing is not linear. We return to our writing at different points to change and edit.

  • Love the idea of writing being non-linear
  • Me too!
  • A thousand times yes!
  • I’ve shown them how published authors revise and edit their work.
  • @tompalmerauthor has a lovely video on his website about how he does a quick write then reads it aloud, changes vocabulary, takes words out.
  • Ow thanks will take a look at this
  • I know lots of teachers don’t like their exercise books to look ‘messy’ so it’s about changing teacher mindsets as much as children’s/
  • I try to help my writers focus on meaning. What are they trying to say and how can they best say it? This is where peer conferencing can be so beneficial. We take time in my classes to learn how conventions can help with meaning and make writing powerful.
  • Helping the children to understand that writing is a craft, not a task to be completed. To see writing as part of our thinking process.

Question 4


  • I love the cosy writing idea! Or just giving options… I’d like to take writing outside on the grass in summer. Consider range of writing tools, laptop options, access to support they can use independently (discussion, displays, word banks, thesaurus, dictionary etc).
  • Thanks so much for the questions, I learnt so much from reading ‘No More “I’m Done!”: Fostering Independent Writers in the Primary Grades’ and reflecting on my own practice. I’m so glad you could make it tonight.
  • What a lovely way to spend an hour and a bit.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed the chat and have got some fabulous ideas to work with. Thank you. Off to order the book now.