Last term, I was the writing intervention teacher for a group of year 6 children at my school. The writing intervention program is a Ministry of Education initiative designed to lift writing achievement.
Every day, the group would meet with the intervention teacher and write, talk about writing, and write some more. The term was ten weeks long.
The objective of this program was to find pedagogy or teaching practices that work and then implement them in a wider manner.
Eight year 6 students were selected for the program. Selection was based on need and those who would benefit from close instruction.
This group was 'student centered' - in other words, it was all about them and what they wanted to achieve. Topics to write about were chosen by the students. The text type and purpose were chosen by the students. Students were given the opportunity to give feedback to other students and suggest ‘next steps.’
It was about ‘doing something different.’ To that end, students wrote every day on laptops. This overcame certain obstacles, especially those concerning surface features like punctuation and spelling. When writing with traditional resources (i.e. pen and paper), some of the students would lose heart and stop writing when they encountered problems with surface features. The laptops (using word with spellchecking), helped the students focus on the story and not get hung up on features that could be corrected during the editing process.
Each student had a ‘mentor’ – a teacher they chose to provide more specific feedback on their writing.
The Writing Warriors had their own website where they would post their writing every week. Each student had their own page. Teachers, family and friends could post comments on these pages.
This program was also about purpose. The purpose of writing is to be read. The students were motivated to write because they knew that their writing was going to be published in a professional manner at the end of the course.
‘Ten Weeks’ is the product of their labour. The student’s work was collated and printed in a book created using Amazon's Createspace. Almost thirty thousand words in ten weeks. That is a remarkable achievement for what were considered ‘reluctant writers.’
To that end, I would like to congratulate the Writing Warriors themselves. They have worked extremely hard on their writing this term. I am proud of every single one of them. All of them have shown improvement in their writing during the course of this program. Not only that, but their attitude towards writing has changed. They have looked forward to coming to the class every day and actually writing.
Many people say that they can write a book. What separates them from actual authors is the doing part. The Writing Warriors have done that. They have written a book and it is something tangible and real that they can always reflect upon.
Something they can always be proud of. Well done, Writing Warriors. You can now consider yourselves published authors.
Click here to view the book on Amazon
Phillip W. Simpson
Phillip W. Simpson is an author of YA and children's books.