Supporting Young Writers
FREE TEACHING RESOURCES
Support your young people to produce new writing using our Wicked Young Writer Awards inspiration and writing activities below.
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"Teachers who care about writing, authorship and the writers in their schools nurture writing talent; the following guide is based on my observations of how those teachers achieve this."
(Nikki Gamble, Independent Educational Consultant/Founder of Write Away)
TIPS FOR SUPPORTING WRITING
Help children find their writing voice
Talk to the children about their writing and respond to what has been written not only how it is written. One of the simplest but most encouraging prompts is to invite children to 'tell me more'. Value what the children choose to write about. If they have chosen to write another football story, help them to write a good one rather than suggesting they write about a different subject or theme.
Developing a sense of authorship also helps children to find a voice in their writing. Encourage them to share their writing with other children. You might set up a special 'author's chair' in the classroom, where children sit to read their work to each other. Encourage them to ask their audience questions and to also invite questions.
Create an interest in the writing process
Make it a feature of your teaching that you provide insights into the different ways that writers work. It quickly becomes apparent that what suits one writer hinders another. For instance when I was writing Writer's Secrets (Wayland), I discovered that Linda Buckley-Archer found it helpful to listen to music as it helped her recreate a specific historical period for her writing. On the other hand, Kevin Crossley Holland needs silence, as music would interfere with the rhythm of his writing.
Have explicit conversations with the children about the aspects of writing they find easy or difficult. Voicing challenges is the first step towards working on them.
Provide high quality feedback on children's writing
Be constructive and specific. Dialogue is a two way process, make suggestions but also listen. Remember that the writing belongs to the writer and avoid the temptation to take control.
Attune children's ears to high quality writing
The importance of reading aloud cannot be overstated and maintaining a regular 'read aloud' session is important well beyond the age at which children can read for themselves. Through hearing stories read expressively, children's language is enriched and they assimilate the structure. They intuitively learn how to create suspense and surprise and to bring their stories to a satisfying conclusion. They absorb the patterns and music of language.
'Booktalk' sessions generate interest in reading and in writing. Aidan Chambers' Tell Me (Thimble Press) offers an inspiring approach for talking about books with children.
Create a rich writing environment
Children write well when they have something they want to say. Writing thrives where rich environments are created. Surround children with interesting pictures, posters, writing prompts and child made books.
Resources such as Storyworld cards or Chris Van Allsburg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick provide inspiration for children to write their own stories. Here authors talk about the inspirations behind their books and suggest ways in which children might start their own stories. For instance, Inbali Iserles suggests a photo walk and Michelle Harrison talks about the story suggested by a charm bracelet.
Other art forms can provide material for writing. Children might like to write about stories evoked by music or paintings.