Last year my school decided to target students from years 1-6 who were reluctant to write and see what we could do to increase their engagement and raise their performance. These weren’t students who had learning difficulties that prevented them writing, instead they were students who were able to write but just wouldn’t, or would take so long to start that they barely have completed a sentence before it was time to move on to something new.
After spending time working with these students, observing and talking with them to try to determine the cause of their reluctance, and also having reflected on our own practice as writers, we implemented a number of strategies across the school to successfully engage them.
As I reflect on it now, I realise they fit into 4 key strategies
- Flexible Learning Spaces
- Authentic opportunities to write using Web 2.0 tools
- Explicit teaching of strategies to help students to plan their writing and overcome writers’ block
- Scaffolding of writing in away that allowed students to write like a writer
In this post I’ll concentrate on the importance of flexible learning spaces.
While some students thrive seated at tables close to their peers, others find it distracting or off-putting when they write. We found that the close proximity to other students prevented some students from entering their ‘writers’ zone’, that particular state of mind where the ideas just flow, because they found the presence of others distracting. A few students even became self-conscious writing in that public space where their work could be viewed by others before they’d figured it out and felt that it was ‘ready’.