Teaching writing
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TEACHING WRITING. Geoff Barton March 2001. TEACHING WRITING. How we’ve often (not) taught writing in the past Recognising good writing Actively teaching writing. www.geoffbarton.co.uk. TEACHING WRITING. How we’ve often (not) taught writing in the past …. www.geoffbarton.co.uk.

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Teaching writing

TEACHING WRITING

Geoff Barton

March 2001


Teaching writing1

TEACHING WRITING

  • How we’ve often (not) taught writing in the past

  • Recognising good writing

  • Actively teaching writing

www.geoffbarton.co.uk


Teaching writing2

TEACHING WRITING

How we’ve often (not) taught writing in the past …

www.geoffbarton.co.uk


Teaching writing3

TEACHING WRITING

Read this opening from the novel “Bleak House” …

h ghgh ghgh ghght y ftrd rdgxkjahkjh kh sbagzj ws asuwq wq qu iuu h u g 7aijq;m.1xz loli3ji h u hasuwq wq qu iuu u g 7aijq;m.1xz loli3ji h u hasuwq wq qu iuu h u g 7aijq;m.1xz loli3ji h u hghgh ghgh ghght y ftrd rdgxkjahkjh kh sbagzj ws asuwq wq qu iuu h u g 7aijq;m.1xz loli3ji h u hasuwq wq qu iuu h u g 7aijq;m.1xz loli3ji h u hasuwq wq qu iuu h u g 7aijq;m.1xz loli3ji h u hghgh ghgh ghght y ftrd rdgxkjahkjh kh sbagzj ws asuwq wq qu iuu h u g 7aijq;m.1xz loli3ji h u hasuwq wq qu iuu h u g 7aijq;m.1xz loli3ji h u hasuwq wq qu iuu h u g 7aijq;m.1xz loli3ji h u hghgh ghgh ghght y ftrd rdgxkjahkjh kh sbagzj ws asuwq wq qu iuu h u g 7aijq;m.1xz loli3ji h u hasuwq wq qu iuu h u g 7aijq;m.1xz loli3ji h u hasuwq wq qu iuu h u g 7aijq;m.1xz loli3ji h u h

Now write your own opening of a novel.

www.geoffbarton.co.uk


Teaching writing4

KS3 tests 2000

TEACHING WRITING

Write the opening of a story about a major emergency.

‘Some people waste a lot of time and energy attempting difficult challenges, such as flying around the world in a hot-air balloon. Attempts like these are pointless, and benefit nobody.’ Write an article for your local newspaper arguing for or against this statement.

www.geoffbarton.co.uk


Teaching writing5

TEACHING WRITING

  • To be truth-full I am for the argument about wasting time and money trying to get around the world in a hot air balloon, when this time and money could be spent on working with medical difficulty or people who are homeless.

  • I feel it is very important to face challenges, as without challenges, the world would be a very dull place. I feel that the earlier challenges appear in a person’s life, the better, as there will undoubtedly be challenges in the workplace or in home life, and so I feel that the people who have faced challenges earlier in life get a head start over people who have not.

Level 4 Level 7


Teaching writing6

TEACHING WRITING

  • You don’t teach writing merely through:

  • Reading aloud

  • Showing models

  • Highlighting genre features

  • Correcting first drafts

  • Lots of bullet-points after the task

Model it

Demonstrate it

Practise it

Critique it

Scaffold it

DEPENDENCE

www.geoffbarton.co.uk

INDEPENDENCE


Teaching writing7

TEACHING WRITING

What are the qualities of successful and unsuccessful writing?

www.geoffbarton.co.uk

(Or understanding the author’s craft)


Teaching writing8

TEACHING WRITING

Unexpectedness

Clarity

Visual immediacy

www.geoffbarton.co.uk

Having something to say

Sentence variety


Teaching writing9

Jonathan Raban

TEACHING WRITING

The road to Dubai is long, straight, dusty, littered with wrecked cars and punctuated only by the odd windswept gas station. There are no villages, no oases, and the Gulf is hidden behind sand-dunes which look as if they are suffering from some sort of desert scurf or mange. It is the kind of road on which car crashes look like philanthropic gestures; they at any rate do something to provide a momentary relief in that monotony of sand and rusted oil drums. Skeetering Cola cans, blowing across the highway, make an ersatz wildlife; half-close your eyes, and you can imagine them as rabbits, surprised in a hedgerow on an English lane. On second thoughts, don’t: they are just Cola cans, tumbling in the wind across the Arabian desert, their paint stripped, sandblasted down to bare metal.

www.geoffbarton.co.uk


Teaching writing10

Jonathan Raban

TEACHING WRITING

The road to Dubai is long, straight, dusty, littered with wrecked cars and punctuated only by the odd windswept gas station. There are no villages, no oases, and the Gulf is hidden behind sand-dunes which look as if they are suffering from some sort of desert scurf or mange. It is the kind of road on which car crashes look like philanthropic gestures; they at any rate do something to provide a momentary relief in that monotony of sand and rusted oil drums. Skeetering Cola cans, blowing across the highway, make an ersatz wildlife; half-close your eyes, and you can imagine them as rabbits, surprised in a hedgerow on an English lane. On second thoughts, don’t: they are just Cola cans, tumbling in the wind across the Arabian desert, their paint stripped, sandblasted down to bare metal.

www.geoffbarton.co.uk


Teaching writing11

TEACHING WRITING

England won the first corner straight off in the first minute, and from the clearance coming out, Gazza fired in a rocket of a volley that looked to be just curving wide – but Illgner lunged to push it away anyhow, and we had a second corner. And then we had a third … our football was surging and relentless – we were playing like the Germans did, and the Germans didn’t like it. Bruises and knocks, sore joints and worn limbs, forget it – there’s no end to the magic hope can work. Wright had Klinsmann under wraps; Waddle released Parker, Beardsley went through once, and then again … Hassler took the German’s first serious strike, and it deflected away from Pearce for their first corner – but Butcher towered up, and headed away. Then Wright picked a through ball off Klinsmann’s feet; the German looked angry and rattled. You could feel their pace, their threat – but still we had them, and the first phase was all England.

No question: England could win this.

The press box was buzzing. Gazza tangled with Brehme; he got another shot in, then broke to the left corner, won a free-kick …

Let’s all have a disco

Let’s all have a disco.

It was more than a disco, it was history.

www.geoffbarton.co.uk


Teaching writing12

TEACHING WRITING

England won the first corner straight off in the first minute, and from the clearance coming out, Gazza fired in a rocket of a volley that looked to be just curving wide – but Illgner lunged to push it away anyhow, and we had a second corner. And then we had a third … ourfootball was surging and relentless – we were playing like the Germans did, and the Germans didn’t like it. Bruises and knocks, sore joints and worn limbs, forget it – there’s no end to the magic hope can work. Wright had Klinsmann under wraps; Waddle released Parker, Beardsley went through once, and then again … Hassler took the German’s first serious strike, and it deflected away from Pearce for their first corner – but Butcher towered up, and headed away. Then Wright picked a through ball off Klinsmann’s feet; the German looked angry and rattled. You could feel their pace, their threat – but still we had them, and the first phase was all England.

No question: England could win this.

The press box was buzzing. Gazza tangled with Brehme; he got another shot in, then broke to the left corner, won a free-kick …

Let’s all have a disco

Let’s all have a disco.

It was more than a disco, it was history.

www.geoffbarton.co.uk


Teaching writing13

Non-fiction models

TEACHING WRITING

The Life of Charles Dickens

Chapter 1

CHARLES DICKENS, the most popular novelist of the century, and one of the greatest humorists that England has produced, was born at Lanport, in Portsea, on Friday, the seventh of February, 1812.

His father, John Dickens, a clerk in the navy pay-office, was at this time stationed in the Portsmouth Dockyard. He had made acquaintance with the lady, Elizabeth Barrow, who became afterwards his wife, through her elder brother, Thomas Barrow, also engaged on the establishment at Somerset House, and she bore him in all a family of eight children, of whom two died in infancy. The eldest, Fanny (born 1810), was followed by Charles (entered in the baptismal register of Portsea as Charles John Huffham, though on the very rare occasions when he subscribed that name he wrote Huffam); by another son, named Alfred, who died in childhood; by Letitia (born 1816); by another daughter, Harriet, who died also in childhood; by Frederick (born 1820); by Alfred Lamert (born 1822); and by Augustus (born 1827).

www.geoffbarton.co.uk


Teaching writing14

Non-fiction models

TEACHING WRITING

DICKENS

CHARLES DICKENS was dead. He lay on a narrow green sofa – but there was room enough for him, so spare had he become – in the dining room of Gad’s Hill Place. He had died in the house which he had first seen as a small boy and which his father had pointed out to him as a suitable object of his ambitions; so great was his father’s hold upon his life that, forty years later, he had bought it. Now he had gone. It was customary to close the blinds and curtains, thus enshrouding the corpse in darkness before its last journey to the tomb; but in the dining room of Gad’s Hill the curtains were pulled apart and on this June day the bright sunshine streamed in, glittering on the large mirrors around the room. The family beside him knew how he enjoyed the light, how he needed the light; and they understood, too, that none of the conventional sombreness of the late Victorian period – the year was 1870 – had ever touched him.

All the lines and wrinkles which marked the passage of his life were new erased in the stillness of death. He was not old – he died in his fifty-eighth year – but there had been signs of premature ageing on a visage so marked and worn; he had acquired, it was said, a “sarcastic look”. But now all that was gone and his daughter, Katey, who watched him as he lay dead, noticed how there once more emerged upon his face “beauty and pathos”.


Teaching writing15

Phone-a-Friend Time

TEACHING WRITING

A:

How to tell how old a raw egg is while it is safely tucked away in its shell could seem a bit tricky, but not so. Remember the air pocket? There is a simple test that tells you exactly how much air there is. All you do is place the egg in a tumbler of cold water: if it sinks to a completely horizontal position, it is very fresh; if it tilts up slightly or to a semi-horizontal position, it could be up to a week old; if it floats into a vertical position, then it is stale.

www.geoffbarton.co.uk


Teaching writing16

Phone-a-Friend Time

TEACHING WRITING

B:

When it comes to food, I am a man of many moods shaped by influences both from within my immediate circle and by what is going on outside. I am constantly on the move and rarely still. There is still so much to discover, to taste and to try out. The success of our menus depends on a balance of popular choices and experimenting with new flavours and ideas to push the boundaries out still further. Perfection of skills and technique reassures our customers, but constant creativity keeps them coming back for more.

www.geoffbarton.co.uk


Teaching writing17

TEACHING WRITING

At around £1 for a large fruit, the pineapple is no longer the special-occasion fruit it was in my childhood. (If there is a pineapple in the fruit bowl, then it must be Christmas.) More recently, in the lush, tropical heat of Goa, the fruit became a daily ritual during a beach-bum holiday. Armed with a plump pineapple, chosen for its ripeness and stripped of its inedible skin by the stallholder’s fearsome machete, we would wander far along the deserted beach to make the most of the fruit and its sticky juice.

Six months later, in the frost-covered gardens of Versailles, the statues and urns wrapped up for the winter, such a fruit seemed even more welcome, cheering us up as our teeth chattered and we dripped juice into the snow as we walked. It is this fruit’s impeccable timing, turning up sweet and gold in the depths of winter, that probably makes it so popular.

Nigel Slater, Real Good Food


Teaching writing18

TEACHING WRITING

ACTIVELYTEACHING WRITING

www.geoffbarton.co.uk


Teaching writing19

So what would you do …?

TEACHING WRITING

Year 9

Text Level

Writing - plan, write and present

3. produce formal essays in standard English

within a specified time, writing fluently and

legibly and maintaining technical accuracy

when writing at speed;

www.geoffbarton.co.uk


Teaching writing20

So what would you do …?

TEACHING WRITING

Year 9

Sentence level

Paragraphing and cohesion

6. compare and use different ways of opening,

developing, linking and completing

paragraphs;

www.geoffbarton.co.uk


Teaching writing21

So what would you do …?

TEACHING WRITING

Text level

Writing

Inform, explain, describe

11. make telling use of descriptive detail, e. g. eye-

witness accounts, sports reports, travel writing;

www.geoffbarton.co.uk


Teaching writing22

So what would you do …?

TEACHING WRITING

Year 9

Writing

Imagine, explore, entertain

5. explore different ways of opening, structuring

and ending narratives and experiment with

narrative perspective, e. g. multiple narration

www.geoffbarton.co.uk


Teaching writing23

So what would you do …?

TEACHING WRITING

Text level

Writing

Inform, explain, describe

12. exploit the potential of presentational devices

when presenting information on paper or on

screen, e. g. font size, text layout, bullet points,

italics;

www.geoffbarton.co.uk


Teaching writing24

TEACHING WRITING

Model it

Demonstrate it

Practise it

Critique it

Scaffold it

Including ‘bad’ models

Show students the process of writing

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Correct/change/improve

Make it collaborative

Move from small to larger sections


Teaching writing25

The Set-Up

TEACHING WRITING

BUILDING SUSPENSE

Write the opening of a mystery story. Set it at a funeral in a wintery churchyard.

www.geoffbarton.co.uk

√ √ √


Teaching writing26

bad

Using models

TEACHING WRITING

Before ….

It was a bitterly cold day. Everyone was in black. The cars were black too. There were people standing around in a group waiting for the coffin. Crows were flying in the sky. It was really eerie.


Teaching writing27

Using models

TEACHING WRITING

After ….

The undertaker's men were like crows, stiff and black, and the cars were black, lined up beside the path that led to the church; and we, we too were black, as we stood in our pathetic, awkward group waiting for them to lift out the coffin and shoulder it, and for the clergyman to arrange himself; and he was another black crow in his long cloak.

And then the real crows rose suddenly from the trees and from the fields, whirled up like scraps of blackened paper from a bonfire, and circled, caw-caw-ing above our heads.

Susan Hill


Teaching writing28

TEACHING WRITING

Demonstrating, critiquing and scaffolding ...

www.geoffbarton.co.uk

Press for action


Teaching writing29

GB’s Final Thoughts

TEACHING WRITING

  • See things as a writer, not just a reader

  • Explore texts actively - meddling, rewriting, editing

  • Demonstrate the writing process yourself

  • Relate everything to effect

  • Talk about grammar where it helps, not as an end in itself

  • Start with small units of writing … then build up

  • Encourage experimentation, risk-taking, creativity

  • Enjoy!

www.geoffbarton.co.uk


Teaching writing30

TEACHING WRITING

Geoff Barton

March 2001

All resources available at www.geoffbarton.co.uk


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