We had a fantastic session on this yesterday run by Ingrid Spencer. I came out of it with my head buzzing with ideas to use but also with thoughts about the whole issue of writing.
We were actually writing yesterday, short pieces in a very short timescale with quite strict restrictions on what we could write. Does that sound familiar? It’s what we ask pupils in our classrooms to do on a daily basis. How did that make me feel? Surprisingly, I didn’t mind the demands being made on me. The stimuli for writing all gave me ideas and I have always enjoyed writing for pleasure. Not everyone feels that way though and I know that there are a lot of people who find writing difficult and yet we expect our pupils to do it on demand.
In their book Writing Voices (2012), Cremin and Myhill devote a whole chapter to teachers as writers. They write about a teacher who sat down and did a writing task with her children and found herself doing things that she told her pupils off for such as gazing out of the window and not beginning to write straight away. How many of us would be guilty of those things as well?
How can we expect our children to write if we do not write alongside them? I read recently that many teachers are reluctant to model writing for the children as they lack confidence in their own writing abilities. And yet, if we do not show ourselves to be writers, then we cannot expect our pupils to think of themselves as writers. Some thing that I read from Pie Corbett years ago was that every teacher should write everyday. Even if it’s only one sentence. We need to understand the writing process and be able to demonstrate it to our pupils
We played writing games where we had to write under strict constraints in a short period of time. My favourite was where we picked an abstract noun and a concrete noun from different envelopes and had to write about the object that we had created. The two words that I ended up with were ‘wardrobe’ and ‘worry’. This is what I ended up writing:
The Wardrobe of Worries
Is full of bothersome thoughts
It’s grey and dull
and the door is hard to open,
You have to tug and pull and twist the handle.
Inside it’s a mess!
Worries piled high,
All jumbled up with each other
Lying every which way and falling off their hangers
Into your mind.
Not brilliant I know but I enjoyed writing it 🙂 It’s definitely something that I will try with my class soon.