Category Archives: writing

Handwriting matters

Some years ago, during the interview for a role as Head of English in a secondary school, all the candidates were asked to speak about what we would prioritise if we were

What *does* improve children’s writing?

In my last post I discussed evidence that suggests grammar teaching does not lead to an improvement in children’s writing. Although it seems implausible that grammar teaching would not be positively correlated

Can grammar teaching improve pupils’ writing?

Let me begin with an anecdote. The first time I ever really encountered the meta language of grammar was after finishing my degree in English Literature and embarking on a six-week course

5 things every new (secondary) teacher should know about writing

Academic success is dependent on students being able to communicate their understanding of a subject and, sooner or later, that communication will be written. For many secondary teachers writing is something that just happens;

The Capital Letter Problem Part 2: Pressure and release

In my last post I defined what I’m calling The Capital Letter Problem and set out some of its causes. Briefly, children pick up and embed bad habits when writing and, although they

The Capital Letter Problem – Part 1

I have almost never met a secondary age child who doesn’t conceptually understand how to use a capital letter.* But, you’d never know. Students regularly hand in work liberally sprinkled with missing

Why study grammar?

Trying to express complex thoughts in simple English … is demanding, challenging and takes time. Terry Leahy There’s been a lot of fuss over the past week about whether it’s appropriate to assess

On bullshit: the value of clarity, precision and economy

“Good writers are those who keep the language efficient. That is to say, keep it accurate, keep it clear.” Ezra Pound I’ve always been of the opinion that saying what you mean clearly,

Rubrics warp teaching and assessment

Men are more apt to be mistaken in their generalizations than in their particular observations. Machiavelli In a recent blog post, children’s author, Michael Rosen has suggested how teachers should teach, assess

Essay writing: style and substance

You have such strong words at command, that they make the smallest argument seem formidable. George Eliot As with most subjects, the step up from GCSE to A level English literature is

If writing is magic, grammar is alchemy

I really do not know that anything has ever been more exciting than diagramming sentences. I like the feeling the everlasting feeling of sentences as they diagram themselves. Gertrude Stein Writing is

When should we stop making students redraft work?

I managed to catch a bit of #Engchatuk today and was interested to see that the discussion was on how to get students to redraft their work. Redrafting is something I advocate when