SOL2015 March 19 A Day of Reflection on Writing

I spent today at Sorrento Primary engaged in critical conversations with teachers reflecting upon the teaching of writing. They came armed with questions and queries and wonderings that had surfaced in the first weeks of the school year. Four one hour question and answer sessions with groups of teachers at various grade levels were conducted. The final session was used to review the day.

The aim of the day was to identify the important issues surrounding the teaching being done across the school to support writing development. There exists in this school a desire for young writers to think more deeply about what they are writing down; to write about the things that matter most to them, -those things closest to the heart. So voice and choice has become a centrepiece of the writing program. Students are being asked to write for authentic purposes.  It is gratifying to be part of this work. 

To foster the emergence of writing during the year the school has been focusing on teaching young writers how to find great ideas for writing. Ideas often lying  deep inside the young writer are beginning to emerge easily. The teaching of writing has a renewed energy. the teachers willingly shared this with me.

 Teachers have embraced the importance of modelling the craft of writing to student writers. They are sharing their own writing, their own wonderings, their own observations of the world. They are fostering thinking about potential writing ideas. They are linking reading and writing in tangible ways.

The day’s discussions identified a number of areas upon which the teaching of writing needed to continue to focus:

Writers make lists of important memories, people, places which could become story topics
Writers sketch important memories, people, places which could spark an idea for a story
Writers get ideas for writing from reading other books
Writers learn from their mentor authors
Writers choose topics close to their hearts
Writers choose small topics/ small moments
Writers choose ideas that matters enough to write a lot about it
Writers know that writing what we know, think, feel or wonder about a topic helps us discover the heart of the subject
Writers plan their lead sentences before writing them down
Writers use pictures to help tell their stories
Writers can add words below their pictures or to the text they have already written
Writers can add labels to their pictures
Writers can add to pieces of writing they have worked on previously
Writers spell lots of words by saying them slowly and writing the sounds they hear.
Writers can be brave when it comes to unfamiliar words by attempting them before seeking help
Writers use details from their stories to plan their illustrations
Writers often think about and rehearse their stories before they begin writing
Writers reread their writing when they think they are finished
Writing takes many forms –books, cards, songs, signs, instructions, letters, poems
Writers understand that dialogue can bring a story to life
Writers try to create endings that satisfy readers
Writers revise to improve the content of their writing
Writers edit to improve the  flow and the surface features of the writing
Writers are always aware of the needs of their audience (readers)
Writers make lots of decisions when publishing their writing
Writers use a variety of sentences in their writing
Writers Read!
Writers need to build their stamina just as readers do

This was a most productive day. A day of reflection on teaching practice which will benefit student writers in the days and weeks ahead. I can't wait to revisit the school to witness the outcome of this investment in student learning.


  1. Things closest to the heart
    form words not always written,
    so we listen for the drumming
    of the beat of our lives, writing
    down the living, for ourselves,
    if not for the world ....

    --Kevin, lifting lines again as comment ... loved your list!

  2. A valuable list that I will put in my own writer's notebook. To read about the work you're doing inspires me but at the same time exasperates me. In our school district (and many in New York ) we have abandoned best practices in teaching the craft of writing in favor of instruction in how to cite text evidence to construct written responses. Thank you for sharing.


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