This is the second in a series of #WritingRocks chats where we explore writer-teachers’ Examples of Practice published on the Writing for Pleasure Centre website.  You can read find the first chat, where writer-teacher Tobias Hayden shares his experience of: ‘Creating a Writing for Pleasure Pedagogy’ in his classroom here.

This month, writer-teacher Marcela Vasques @Marcelavb3 opens a window to her own classroom practice, specifically how she ‘Sets Up Personal Writing Projects in KS1′I loved collaborating with Marcela and learned so much from the insightful questions she posed to the #WritingRocks community; it also proved to be the perfect opportunity for our second ever #TimetoWrite.  Marcela’s comments throughout the chat have been highlighted in bold.  You can access the original discussion on Twitter by clicking on the hyperlinks that precede each question slide.  Massive gratitude to Ross Young from the Writing for Pleasure Centre for taking the reins of the chat at the 11th hour.

BIG Thanks to these wonderful people for their participation in the discussion:

@one_to_read @WritingRocks_17 @thewritingweb @navangovender @TobiasHayden @sabinelittle @jonnywalker_edu @KateClanchy1 @katehitchings1 @Miff__ @NewhamBookshop @smerchant13  @NostosandKleos @Rosemarycalm @curlystevereed @jakethepie @mr_o_connor @TeresaCremin

Tobias Hayden: I am fortunate enough to be the teacher of the partner class for this group of children. We have thoroughly enjoyed watching their development as writers thanks in no small part to their writer-teacher.

Qu 1

  • I love this! I heartily attest to the power of what Marcela says with my classes in Year 6. Further on from the first stages I share my writing with them. I often ask (like today): What *don’t* you like…? It emphasises my aim to make them feel writing is THEIRS
  • Exactly this, Ben.
  • Brilliantly put! The rightful claim to authorship by children is the best way to ensure that they don’t feel alienated from their own writing. This is a life skill that is denied to most children because they are not deemed worth of it.
  • We have such responsibility to the child’s own Voice.


  • It’s developing relationships and giving the children the freedom to choose in writing. I think Marcela’s approach suits older writers too.


  • At the start of the year, I would talk with each child. I would write up what I found out about them in an anthology and put it in the class library. I earnt a lot of respect from my pupils that way. They knew I was interested in them as people
  • What a wonderful idea!


  • This is a great example of practice and one of the first steps that you need to take to develop your teaching of writing. It really does help build a sacred bond between you and the children.
  • I write with them, for them and even about them sometimes. I write for other classes and with @Marcelavb3 for her class and she writes with me for my class. They illustrate my stories. We co-write online.
  • They organise the writing area; they take charge of the environment. They transfer their knowledge of writing and the writing process and want to pass it on. They teach their families and other children by setting up writing clubs.
  • Yes, to all this.


  • I like to share things about me, my own memoirs and writing, I also share stories and memoirs from teachers they know. Children create a strong connection with the writing because they can relate to it, then they want to share their ideas too.


  • So much of this resonates with bell hooks’ work on TEACHING TO TRANGRESS. I felt super emotional when I logged into a seminar last week and a student recalled a story that 8 had told about my experiences with my niece. it helped us connect & her own stories are in her research.
  • I love this book.

  • It is a classic! And bell hooks is amazing! So much of my teacher identity was influenced by her work.
  • You might also like these prompts from Michael Rosen’s book ‘Did I Hear You Write?’

  • We had an excellent #WritingRocks chat based on Michael Rosen’s ‘Did I Hear You Write?’ last September. You can read all about it here.
  • I find discussing fears a hard one, because I don’t want to create fears. But then the children are more open than me, which is perhaps not how it should be
  • Writing hand
  • Kate Clanchy writes very well about this in the final chapter of Some Kids I Taught And What They Taught Me (as does Edward Blishen in ‘That Right Soft Lot’
  • Thank you Jonny. I don’t think it makes more fear to suggest children can write about it. The reverse might be true though.
  • Thanks I’ll read this. Totally agree about writing their fears. But when discussing our fears I don’t say “my children dying” – feels too much. I say something true but anodyne (lightning). Then one of the children says what she fears is death and I admire her greater honesty.
  • @NewhamBookshop are you able to get copies of this? Only place I can find one is Amazon and would rather not.
  • I believe it is out of print, so second hand is the way to go, sorry I can’t help
  • That’s ok, it’s a shame, I liked those excerpts. I will have to do some digging. They’ll have one at thenIOE library.
  • Try -their site lists several 2 d hand!
  • I’m happy to loan my copy.

Qu 2


  • I make sure the writing set is fully inclusive – that means I can focus on their own Voices…and this comes from allowing them rein over what they write and how they write. It’s not about me…it’s about THEM.
  • During writing time, ask them: – How’s it going… – How can I help you today?… – What are you working on? – Want to read me a bit? – Want to write a bit together?
  • Once children trust that you are there to give them instruction because you want them to write meaningful and successful pieces, you can actually ask THEM what they feel they need to learn about most. Probably the most efficient and effective formative assessment
  • 100% I have found that this year. The mini-lesson requests have really taken off in a big way. The conferencing-mini-lesson back and forth is so crucial to effective teaching and giving the children a say in their development as writers.


  • But can’t you get to know them if they are pretending to write a diary entry from the perspective of a Victorian chimney sweep Ross?
  • Don’t want to get too Freudian but you might still find out a little something about them if you looked hard enough
  • Haha! I’m sure.


  • I use conferences and I respect that some do not want to share their work or talk about it at a given moment. I talk about the processes and offer questions. We are allowing some EAL children to write in their first language and the response has been incredible.
  • This is a beautiful thing!
  • The fact that we recognise both languages (sometimes three) makes children feel valued and their belief as writers has increased in a matter of days.
  • and I have just started writing a piece in English but peppered with Brazilian Portuguese and Italian. Amazing engagement from a girl in my class who speaks all three languages and who rarely volunteers an answer in discussions
  • I love this!
  • So much fun!


  • Personal writing project books are a great tool for children to develop their own ideas, they love to share their own projects. It’s important to make time to listen to their ideas, interests and the projects that they are developing.
  • Teaching them to find and use their voices in their writing is the ultimate way to ‘listen’.
  • When you listen to the children in your class, you can recognise their voices in their writing.
  • So true!

Qu 3

  • We were writing short stories in which the children were deeply invested. There was loads of speech, incorrectly punctuated in early drafts. I taught how it could be correctly done with inverted commas, commas etc. What an easy win! The grammar was USEFUL
  • WOW! I wish I had writer-teachers like you when I was younger!


  • Fishing with my dad and sister, being lost in the middle of huge crowd when I was 4, learning to ride my bike, breaking the cast of leg for my twisted ankle to go to the beach, hiding in the school library during lessons, locking myself in my mum’s room to avoid my sister’s fury.
  • Then my sister threatening to throw my hamster out of the window, and the only way to save the hamster was to unlock myself and face the fury! I can’t remember what I did to her, Woman shrugging but it wasn’t good or nice for certain. A few memories I can think of now…
  • Nothing happened to the hamster Hamster face! She wouldn’t harm it… I knew it.


  • I think writers acquire their knowledge through reading, through conversations and observing the world around them. I think we do try to link our teaching to these areas but don’t allow the chn experiences/observations to shine through.
  • I agree with this..I think we sometimes feel the need to control where the writing comes from.. the process is much more complex than ‘read book-have idea- write idea’. It’s a blend from many (and often inexpected) sources. You can’t plan it a priori for
  • I just spent some time today thinking about all the things that had directly influenced one piece of writing that my daughter has done, and there was many and some quite unexpected.


  • My schooldays are a source of delight and horror for me and it’s nice for them to see that I struggled like them.
  • I always end up sharing about how naughty I was at school! Children are absolutely delighted of course!
  • I was a very good boy…but not always!
  • The children really like this, and also they love when you share the things you used to do when you were a child like them, especially when they are funny and a little bit naughty. Who doesn’t love Michael Rosen’s Chocolate Cake?


  • We’re doing memoirs. Writing alongside ch. Mine involves the branches of a cypress tree laid on the stairs of a ruined castle, doused in petrol. Fire European castle Fire Grimacing face
  • Sounds interesting!
  • We spent a lesson sharing stories orally in groups. Helped others generate ideas #WritingRocks



  • I enjoyed a short burst of writing this evening. Not ready to share yet but one line is ‘And I refused to speak to him after that.’ Thank you to @Marcelavb3 for the questions.
  • I call this a real success – crafting such an evocative sentence that invites so many questions. Thank you for sharing.
  • Sounds intriguing…. what did he do?


  • Here’s the beginning of a paragraph from a short memoir text I live-wrote in front of the class. You can see the 2nd draft written in my journal pasted at the bottom of the flip chart page and read the entire piece on #WritersByNight.

  • This is a tiny micro moment from today. A little ‘dribble’ story (20-50 words)

  • I’m always banging on about writing dialogue that moves the story forward (something I need to work on myself). This micro-conversation could be the whole story – it reminds me of a gorgeous postcard. Thank you for sharing.


  • Little discovery draft here. Going to share this with my kids as they are doing a memoir project with their families this week. Let’s see which bits get their reading tummies rumbling. My actual tummy certainly rumbled in this memoir!

  • Reading tummies ! Delicious!
  • So good!
  • Love this, Tobias esp the ‘reading tummies’. For a moment there I was impressed you had tickets for Cannon and Ball but almost immediately you dropped the big one: you were at your Year 3 teacher’s HOUSE?!
  • Yes they were good friends. I never found it odd. I got to see Phil Cool the following year, as the couple my parents were going with backed out last minute. I don’t think I got any of the jokes though. It was just fun to go to a show. Ice cream was probably the highlight.
  • I hope my nephew felt the same about me taking him to see Grace Jones last summer.


  • Marcela’s #TimetoWrite

  • Wow – I didn’t know it was possible to remove your own cast. I’m impressed! To be honest, maybe a bit jealous as I always wanted to break my leg as a child and scratch it with a ruler and have people sign my cast. At 41, I know it would be beyond inconvenient.



On Wednesday 6th January 2021, we will be reflecting on how Ben Harris @one_to_read uses the Author’s Chair as part of his practice.

.  It would be great to see you there!