Using Talk to Support Writing


Ros Fisher, Susan Jones, Shirley Larkin & Debra Myhill

  • Citations
  • Add to My List
  • Text Size

  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Education at SAGE

    SAGE is a leading international publisher of journals, books, and electronic media for academic, educational, and professional markets.

    Our education publishing includes:

    • accessible and comprehensive texts for aspiring education professionals and practitioners looking to further their careers through continuing professional development
    • inspirational advice and guidance for the classroom
    • authoritative state of the art reference from the leading authors in the field

    Find out more at:


    View Copyright Page

    About the Authors

    Ros Fisher has taught in primary schools in the north-west of England and the USA. She is now Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Exeter. She writes widely about the teaching of literacy and has researched the role of the teacher, and teacher change in current large-scale initiatives to change the teaching of literacy in England. Recent books include Inside the Literacy Hour (Routledge, 2002) and an edited collection of papers from an ESRC-funded research seminar series, Raising Standards in Literacy (Falmer, 2002). She is currently researching the impact of dialogic talk on young children's understanding of arithmetic.

    Susan Jones is a lecturer in education at the University of Exeter, United Kingdom. Her research interests include gender and achievement, classroom interaction and the developing writer. She is the co-author of Talking, Listening, Learning: Effective Talk in the Primary Classroom (Open University Press, 2005).

    Shirley Larkin has a background in teaching English Literature and in Psychology. She has researched the area of metacognition in young children since 1999. Originally working with Philip Adey on a cognitive acceleration programme in early years science education, she has since explored the role of metacognition in learning to write and in religious education. She has published a number of academic papers in this field and a single-authored book entitled Metacognition in Young Children (Routledge, 2010). She currently lectures at the Graduate School of Education, University of Exeter.

    Debra Myhill is Professor of Education at the University of Exeter, and is Head of the Graduate School of Education. Her research interests focus principally on aspects of language and literacy teaching, particularly writing and grammar, and talk in the classroom. She is the author of Better Writers (Courseware Publications, 2001), co-author of Talking, Listening, Learning: Effective Talk in the Primary Classroom (Open University Press, 2005), and co-editor of the SAGE Handbook of Writing Development (Sage, 2009).

    Anita Wood began her career as a primary school teacher in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. She now teaches on the Primary PGCE course at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Exeter. Her interests include EAL, drama and children's literature.


    The Talk to Text Project

    The Talk to Text Project developed from an earlier research project in which some members of our current team worked with a group of first schools in West Sussex on classroom talk (see Myhill, Jones and Hopper, 2005). At the end of that project, the headteachers asked if we could continue to work with them on talk but, this time, to focus on talk for writing. Although we knew that a great deal had been written about the importance of using talk to support writing, we also felt that much of this was insufficiently specific. Everyone knew that talk was ‘a good thing’ when it came to writing but there was very little known about the different ways in which talk supports writing and what happens when children use talk before, during and after writing.

    We approached the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and they agreed to fund the project. Mainly this funding gave us two excellent research fellows who worked closely with the schools. The research was greatly enhanced by the fact that we had one full year as a pilot with the schools that we knew well and then added two more schools from elsewhere in the south of England for the second year when the main study took place. In all, over the period of the project, six schools were involved, with eight teachers, although they were not all with us for the whole project. For the main project we worked with five schools and with six class teachers and their classes of 5, 6 and 7 year-olds.

    The project had two main aims. One was to work with the teachers to develop activities that would use talk to support writing and the other was to learn more about what happens when children and teachers talk in this way. We did not want this project to be an ‘us and them’ project so the teachers were involved throughout. The head teachers helped with writing the research bid. The head teachers and class teachers were involved with the planning and analysis at every stage. Teachers as well as research follows videoed lessons. We held research days when those of us who worked at the university met with those of us who worked in the schools to share ideas. We got together for some of the analysis, and some of the teachers have contributed to this book. The funding from Esmee Fairbairn was particularly helpful in providing supply cover for these meetings to take place.

    From the background of previous research and our own knowledge of children and schools, we identified three specific uses for talk to support writing: talk to generate ideas; talk for oral rehearsal; and talk for metacognitive purposes. We felt that each of these purposes required different planning on the part of the teacher and different activities for the children.

    In order to clarify these purposes for talk to ourselves, the teachers and the children involved we worked carefully to define exactly what we meant by idea generation, oral rehearsal and metacognition. Following discussions with the teachers, we changed the terms oral rehearsal to write aloud and metacognition to reflection. In the case of the former this was to distinguish what we wanted to focus on from other forms of oral rehearsal. In the case of the latter it was to use a more easily recognisable term. These definitions and examples can be seen in Table I.1. We also produced a classroom poster depicting a simplified version for children of these Talk to Text elements to be used in the project classrooms. This poster can be seen at the end of the Introduction.

    Table I.1 Framework for using talk to support writing
    The Book

    The book is not intended to be merely a research report, although it does contain some discussion of how the project unfolded. Nor is it intended to be just a classroom teaching manual, although it does contain lots of ideas and advice for class teachers. Some chapters contain more of the research and some contain more of the activities but the research and the activities go closely together and support each other. We draw heavily on our data from videos and interviews with children and teachers. This means that both the activities and the theory are illustrated by glimpses from real classrooms and real children.

    We are four authors, all of whom were involved in the research project. We have planned the book together and worked together on it. However, we have each taken responsibility for different chapters. So, as is the way with writing, our different voices can be distinguished in the different chapters. But this is not an edited collection with different contributors. It is a self-contained volume with an inner coherence supported by the research that we did together.

    In between chapters we also provide various ‘interludes’. These are either reflections on the Talk to Text project by teachers who were involved or they are sample lesson plans linked to the three uses of talk described above and set out in Table 1.1. These lessons have been planned and written by Anita Wood from the activities developed by the teachers on the project.

    The Chapters

    In the first chapter we provide a theoretical overview of what is currently known about writing and the teaching of writing. This chapter considers research from a variety of perspectives and is the only chapter that is solely theory without any discussion of the classroom practice that is threaded throughout the rest of this book. The poster used in the project classrooms can be found at the end of this Introduction.

    In Chapter 2, we give more details about the research project and how it developed. We also give advice and ideas on how you might go about undertaking research in your own classroom. We discuss some of the advantages and pitfalls in conducting research in classrooms. At the end of this chapter, Frances Dunkin, who was head teacher of one of the project schools at the time of the research, reflects on the value she found in being a research active school.

    Chapter 3 describes some of the idea generation activities that were used on the project. This is a very practical chapter. Talk to generate ideas is widely used and plenty has already been written about this aspect of talk to support writing. Here we look at the ways in which these children and teachers used talk to help develop the ideas needed for the content of the writing. There is included a lengthy transcript of children talking as they develop their ideas for their writing. This chapter is followed by some sample lesson plans for idea generation.

    Chapter 4 explores the idea of ‘write aloud’. This use of talk to support writing is new so we explore the theory that underpins this idea as well as its practical implications. This chapter is followed by Rachael Milsom, a teacher on the project, who describes a lesson where she used ‘write aloud’.

    In Chapter 5 we consider how the talk to generate ideas and write aloud fed into the writing that children produced. We take two lessons and track closely the teacher talk and child talk involved before and during the writing to show in detail the process of composition. This chapter is followed by lesson plans using write aloud.

    Chapter 6 examines how children use talk to reflect on their writing. We explore the meaning and value of metacognition and look at how this was developed by children and teachers in the project. This chapter is followed by one of the teachers, Corinne Bishop, describing how she helped children in her class to reflect on the process of writing.

    Chapter 7 departs from classroom talk and draws on data from the project to listen to the voices of the children in the project classes. We interviewed six focus children in each of the six classes at the beginning and the end of the year of the main project. These children give us insight into what they think and understand about writing and learning to write. This chapter is followed by the lesson plans for reflection.

    The final chapter, Chapter 8, focuses on classroom management for using talk to support writing. Here we draw on what teachers told us and our examination of the video data to bring together ideas about how best to manage the talk. We look closely at some teacher-child interaction and discuss how some forms of interaction support the talk and the writing better than others. This chapter is followed by a final reflection from Linda Bateman, another of the project teachers.

    We have also included some more details of the research project in an appendix for those who would like to know more about how we went about data collection and analysis.

    Each chapter can be read on its own or as part of the whole. There is some logic to the order but you don't have to read it in the order we chose. We invite you to read the whole book and think about how theory and practice are linked. But we don't mind if you pick and choose the chapters you read. Use the book for your own purposes and we hope you enjoy it.

    Classroom Poster

  • Appendix 1: The Research Report – Talk to Text: Using Talk to Support Writing

    A project funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

    • Dr Ros Fisher, Professor Debra Myhill
    • Dr Susan Jones
    • Dr Shirley Larkin

    Graduate School of Education, University of Exeter

    It is through language, especially spoken language, that teachers teach and children learn. (Alexander, 2004: 2)


    The Talk to Text Project was a project funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation from December 2004 to the end of November 2006. Based on a social constructivist view of learning it sought to explore the relationship between classroom talk and writing in the early stages of children's schooling. Data collection was completed, as planned, by the end of June 2006 and dissemination began through conference papers in July 2006.


    The principal aims of the project were to investigate how creating explicit opportunities for talk might enhance children's early attempts at writing, and to develop practical and successful ways of implementing this in the classroom.

    Specific subsidiary aims were:

    • To implement and evaluate the impact of using talk creatively (such as through drama) to generate ideas and motivation for writing
    • To implement and evaluate the use of oral rehearsal of sentences as a preparation for writing
    • To implement and evaluate the value of using talk to support reflection and metacognition (such as through shared writing, modelling and talking partners).
    Project Outline

    The project was carried out in three phases. In the first year a pilot project was conducted which consisted of two phases. The first ran from December 2004 until April 2005 and was concerned with trialling data collection methods. The second phase ran from May 2005 until August 2005 and was concerned with the evaluation of the talk activities. A report on this two-stage pilot project was submitted in October 2005. Following the evaluation of the pilot project, two further schools joined the project.

    Phase three was the main Talk to Text project and ran for one full school year from September 2005 until July 2006. A central element of the project was the close collaboration between teachers and university researchers. Four meetings were held during the year and the project website encouraged discussion between meetings.

    Pilot Study

    The pilot proved very useful in the development of the main project in three main ways. First, the methods of data collection were trialled and initial problems with the recording of children's talk in a busy classroom were overcome. In particular, the use of external microphones attached to the video cameras proved the best way of recording spoken language and important paralinguistic information. Second, the talk activities were developed and trialled employing both existing teacher practice and new activities developed from theoretical understanding. Thirdly, the evaluation of the pilot enabled the university-based research team to manage the data collection in such a way that teachers felt able to improvise on basic ideas. This facilitated the continued development of successful talk activities over the period of data collection.

    The main aims of the project involved the development and the evaluation of activities to encourage the use of talk to support writing. Thus there was a tension between a design that allowed development of useful activities and a research project that enabled comparative evaluation. Ultimately, the desire to produce practical outcomes that would be of benefit to the profession outweighed the need for a control group to test the effectiveness of the activities. Indeed, the enthusiasm of the schools for the project resulted in it being necessary to locate comparison classes outside of the project schools, resulting in real threats to the validity of control data.

    Design of Main Project

    The sample for the main project is set out in Table A.1.

    Table A.1 Project classes
    School codeNo. of classesYear group
    F/P11/2 mixed

    In addition, Phase 3 involved two comparison classes from non-participating schools. These two classes were both Year 2. In total, 172 Year 1 and Year 2 children took part in the project.

    In each class, six children were chosen by the class teacher to become a focus group for the collection of data. These groups were of mixed gender and represented an even split of low, middle and high attainment in literacy, as assessed by school-based measures. Six children from each of the two comparison classes were selected on the same basis, to provide a baseline comparison with the Talk to Text groups.

    Data were collected on 36 children from the Talk to Text classes and 12 children from the comparison classes.

    Data Collection
    Writing Samples

    At the beginning of the autumn term, 2005, teachers in all classes were asked to provide one piece of fiction and one piece of non-fiction writing for each child in their class. In order to facilitate comparisons across schools, the university research team asked that the fiction piece should be a re-telling of a well-known story and the non-fiction piece should be a letter welcoming a new child to the class. At the end of the project in summer 2006, two similar pieces of writing were collected from every child.

    Child Interviews

    At the beginning and end of the project, university researchers conducted interviews with all the focus group children. The children were interviewed in boy/girl pairs, with each pair representing low, middle or high attainment in literacy as assessed by their teacher. The purpose of the interviews was to explore:

    • Children's attitudes towards writing
    • Children's ability to evaluate good writing and good writing strategies
    • Children's thoughts on the process of becoming a writer.

    Children were initially shown pictures of children writing in class and asked to comment on the pictures. Following this, they were questioned according to the themes outlined above.

    Observation and Video Data

    University researchers visited the project schools each term during the year to observe the focus children. The observations included video-capture of the initial teacher whole-class input, then video capture of two of the focus children working on a Talk to Text activity. Field notes were recorded by the researcher at the time and later the researcher noted her reflections on the observation period. Photocopies of work produced by the focus children during that particular period were collected.

    Teachers and head teachers were also encouraged to observe the focus children during the year and to collect video data of these children engaged in Talk to Text activities.

    Teacher Reflections

    Teachers were asked to keep a reflective audio diary throughout the project.

    Teacher Interviews

    All the project teachers were interviewed four months after the end of the project. The purpose of the interviews was (a) to explore teachers’ individual views about teaching writing; and (b) to ascertain teachers’ retrospective reflections on the outcomes of the project. Interviews were conducted in private. They lasted for about one hour and were audio-taped. The tapes were transcribed and the transcripts sent to teachers for verification.

    Summary of Data Collection

    In total, 736 scripts of children's writing were collected. Eighty-four scripts of children's fiction and non-fiction writing were scored at the start of the project and 54 scripts were scored at the end of the project (see data analysis below).

    • 25 hours of video footage were collected and analysed.
    • 48 children were interviewed at the beginning and end of the project.
    • 13 audio and written reflections were collected from teachers.
    Analysis of Data

    The rich data collected during the project enabled different kinds of mainly qualitative analysis.

    Video Data

    The classroom observations captured on video were transferred to mpeg files and stored on the project laptop. The videos were analysed using ATLAS ti software. ATLAS ti is a visual qualitative data analysis package which can be used for data captured in different media. It also enables integration of different kinds of data. After consultation with CAQDAS (Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis System) specialists, ATLAS was chosen as the best package for the needs of this project. The use of ATLAS enabled us to code directly onto video clips without the need to transform video data into text. As every time data is transformed, an interpretation takes place, the use of ATLAS allowed us to stay as close as possible to the live experience of the classroom. The video data is supplemented by the researchers’ field notes and subsequent reflections and by the teachers’ and head teachers’ reflections. Video produces a great deal of information and coding is both time consuming and complex. The university research team met regularly to discuss the coding of the video data. Different frameworks were created, amended and re-created until a set of codes was agreed which captured most of the recurring behaviour relevant to the project's aims. This set of codes was then clustered into themes and networks of associations between themes were created.

    Child Interviews

    The interviews were analysed initially according to the three themes:

    • Children's attitudes towards writing
    • Children's ability to evaluate good writing and good writing strategies
    • Children's thoughts on the process of becoming a writer.

    Thus the transcripts were coded according to whether the responses related to the child's attitudes to the activity of writing; their evaluation of the written product; or to their understanding of learning to write. Those responses relating to children's attitudes to writing were subdivided into positive and negative statements and into statements relating to ease or difficulty of writing. Responses relating to the evaluation of writing were split into those that focused on the writing and those that focused on the writer. These groups of statements were then further analysed to provide a more detailed picture of children's understandings.

    In order to explore the relative importance of these understandings and the extent of any changes over the year of the project, frequency counts were made of the children's answers by category.

    Writing Samples

    The writing samples of the focus group children were scored along the following dimensions: purpose and organisation, style, punctuation, spelling, handwriting. Stockport Levels (Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, 2005) were amended to include some explications used by schools, and these amended levels were used to score the samples. Stockport Levels provide finer grading than QCA documentation and relate closely to National Curriculum levels. However, it was felt that using a combination of Stockport Levels and assessment criteria already in use in the schools would provide more specific grades. The initial scoring of a 20% sample of the scripts by two researchers achieved an inter-rater reliability of only 62%. As a result it was decided that the researchers should score all the scripts independently and then discuss discrepancies until 100% agreement was reached. The scores were entered into EXCEL. At the end of the project a random sample of scripts was sent to teachers and head teachers to score. The results of scoring and subsequent discussion by teachers raised serious doubts about the validity and reliability of such measures.

    Teacher Interviews

    Six teachers from the project schools were interviewed four months after the end of the project in the schools. The interviews were audio-taped and transcribed. A qualitative analysis based on Activity Theory was carried out to identify key themes that could be said to influence teacher practice and how that practice may impact on pupils. Themes from the teacher interviews will be compared to those from pupil interviews and classroom video data.

    Research Findings
    Video Data

    Using ATLAS ti allowed the research team to take a grounded approach to coding the video data. Each of the 24 hour-long videos was watched in its entirety to get a sense of the whole lesson. Then the video was sectioned into small clips and coded. New codes were added to the code list as they occurred in different videos until no new codes emerged.

    The codes set out in Tables A.2A.4 formed the basis of this analysis of talk during paired talk. Codes for teacher talk during whole class sessions were coded separately.

    Table A.2 Codes focusing on child-to-child interaction
    CodeNumber of instances recorded
    Child encourages/accepts other child's ideas/suggestions22
    Child asks child for help26
    Child comments on/evaluates other's/own writing/talk27
    Child ignores other child's idea/suggestion10
    Child observes other child writing13
    Child revises work – child prompted2
    Child shows/tells other child own writing20
    Children manage/talk about task69
    Children share ideas together45
    Children support oral rehearsal together26
    Children talk about writing/spelling/scribing69
    Getting ideas from/giving them to other children6
    Social talk44
    Table A.3 Codes focusing on individual children
    CodeNumber of instances recorded
    Child expresses frustration/confusion9
    Child asks teacher for help11
    Child expresses task aspiration goal1
    Child gives ideas supported by teacher30
    Child oral rehearsal to capture thinking23
    Child reads out to perform21
    Child responds to teacher's question6
    Child revises work self-realised7
    Child reads out writing to generate ideas18
    Child re-forms sentence orally2
    Child revises work – teacher prompted6
    Child says sentence as they write52
    Child sounds out spelling51
    Child uses aid for spelling/writing14
    Child writes with magic pencil7
    Children being reflective2
    Children write/work silently66
    Table A.4 Codes focusing on the teacher
    CodeNumber of instances recorded
    Teacher input relating to spelling/punctuation/scribing33
    Teacher supports child-to-child interaction23
    Teacher summarises child's ideas1
    Teacher supports oral rehearsal17
    Teacher supports reflection6
    Teacher manages task32
    Teacher supports ideas and/or builds on content29

    Frequency counts of the behaviour corresponding to each code were made. It was decided that a count of 40 or more for a code would render that code one of the most common. The most common codes found in children's talk are shown in Table A.5.

    Table A.5 The most common codes
    CodeNumber of recorded instances
    Children manage or talk about the task69
    Children talk about writing, spelling or scribing69
    Child writes or works silently66
    Child says sentence as they write52
    Child sounds out spelling51
    Children share ideas together45
    Social talk44

    However, children from different attainment levels were found to appear differentially in the codes. Thus a further analysis by attainment level can be seen in Tables A.6A.10.

    Table A.6 The most common codes for the high attainment children
    CodeRecorded instances for HA children as percentage of all instances
    Children share ideas together80%
    Children support oral rehearsal together69%
    Encouraging or accepting other child's ideas68%
    Observing the other child writing62%
    Child says sentence as they write it58%
    Uses oral rehearsal to capture thinking52%
    Table A.7 The most common codes for the average attainment children
    CodeRecorded instances for AA children as percentage of all instances
    Child uses aid for spelling/writing79%
    Expresses frustration or confusion78%
    Reads out writing to generate ideas44%
    Social talk43%
    Table A.8 The most common codes for the low attainment children
    CodeRecorded instances for LA children as percentage of all instances
    Ignores other child's idea or suggestion70%
    Child asks child for help42%
    Sounds out spelling45%
    Table A.9 Codes focusing on the teacher (here the instances have been split to show which were observed in whole-class sessions and which during paired)
    Table A.10 Teacher codes split according to writing attainment (paired work only)
    Clustering Codes

    In moving to a second level of analysis, codes were clustered according to the kind of talk that was being engaged in rather than what the talk was about. The following clusters were developed:

    Strategic:forward thinking
    Definition:‘A strategy is originated by the writer and has the intention of having an effect on the user's writing.’
    Evaluative:reflecting back
    Definition:‘Talk is used to express a judgement on the context, the writing or the task.’
    Constructive:current support
    Definition:‘Talk used to support the writer in achieving the task.’

    Details of these findings can be found in Chapter 5.

    Child Interviews

    Details of these findings can be found in Chapter 7.

    Writing Samples

    Overall, the research team felt that the measurement of progress through scoring of writing samples using National Curriculum descriptors was an unconvincing measure of the project children's achievement. Firstly, the process of scoring was felt to be very subjective and reliability checks confirmed this impression. Second, the writing tasks were chosen to be simple for young children to complete early in the year and easy to replicate on a second occasion. In retrospect, the project teachers did not feel that the tasks allowed pupils to display the imagination and creative use of language that the project had helped them to develop.

    Further Areas for Investigation
    Teacher Practice

    Early findings from the analysis of the video data reveal significant differences in the way the activities have been mediated by the teachers. Although each teacher used a variety of the project activities as well as their own favourites, the way in which each teacher introduced, taught and responded to the writing tasks varied considerably. Such variations seemed to impact on how children responded to the tasks. Close analysis of teacher practice together with analysis of children's behaviour and the writing samples suggests important recommendations for teachers that can be disseminated through the writing activity materials. Furthermore, this analysis will contribute to socio-cultural understandings of teacher practice.

    Teacher Involvement

    The teachers and head teachers from the project schools have been fully involved in all aspects of the research project. They are also involved in the dissemination of the findings of the project. Two teachers, one from School A and one from School B, have written an article for English 4–11. They and other teachers have contributed to this book.

    One of the project teachers was entered for the ‘New Teacher of the Year’ contest and won her regional final. When she was observed by the judges she chose to do one of the Talk to Text activities and the lesson was greatly praised by the judges.

    Key Outcomes for Research, Policy and Practice
    • The research will take forward our understanding of three key areas of theory:
      • Young children's metacognition in early writing
      • More detailed and specific understanding of the relationship between different talk activities and early writing
      • Understanding of the socio-cultural factors that impact on children's development as writers.
    • The research has implications for practice:
      • The importance of teacher input in the management of talk activities prior to writing
      • The need for clarity about the purpose of the talk activities
      • The value of helping children to say sentences aloud prior to writing.
    • Implications for policy are less well developed but indicate:
      • The importance of talk to support development in writing
      • The problematic nature of current assessment practices in writing.

    Appendix 2: Child Interview Schedule


    The interviews are intended to explore children's views on:

    • Quality of writing – presentational features, secretarial features, meaning based, personal reasons
    • Attitudes to writing – positive/negative, analysing types found easy/difficult
    • Strategies they employ – internal/external.

    The interviews will follow a semi-structured format. The questions will focus on children's understanding of quality of writing; their attitudes to writing; their knowledge of strategies to help them write. Interviewers should ask the initial question and then prompt for answers related to the construct concerned (quality, attitudes, strategies). Interviewers should encourage children to speak at greater length by non-judgemental responses such as ‘right’, ‘oh yes’; by waiting and allowing children to fill the silence; or by repeating the question using a similar question keeping the focus on the construct. Interviewers should avoid summarising what children have said and asking leading questions.

    Analysis will involve simple coding of responses in relation to each of the three constructs.


    My name is … and I'm a researcher. I'm interested in finding out about children learning to write and I'd like to ask you some questions about writing. I will record your answers so that I can remember what you have said. I'm particularly interested in what you think about writing, how you get ideas and what helps you to do writing. You can stop being interviewed at any time. If you don't want to carry on or answer a question just tell me. Are you happy to help us with our research?

    Begin Recording

    The first thing I'd like you to do is to look at this picture and tell me what you think these people are thinking. [(Researcher writes in the bubble or lets child do it). If the child writes, then:]

    • Q: Can you tell me what you have written?
    • Q: Do you think the person is a good writer? Why?
    • Q: Are you a good writer? How do you know that?

    Now I will ask you both questions together. Anyone can answer and you can agree or disagree with each other if you like.

    • Q: Who are the good writers in the class? Why do you think that?
    • Q: What do you enjoy about writing?
    • Q: Tell me what you don't enjoy about writing?
    • Q: What kinds of writing are hard to do? Why?
    • Q: What kinds of writing are easy to do? Why?
    • Q: What helps you to do your writing?
    • Q: What do you do if you get stuck on a piece of writing?
    • Q: How do you think people learn to write?
    • Q: Is there anything else you would like to say about writing?


    Alexander, R. (2004) Towards Dialogic Teaching: Rethinking Classroom Talk. Cambridge: Dialogos.
    Baddeley, A.D. and Hitch, G.J.L. (1974) ‘Working Memory’, in G.A.Bower (ed.) The Psychology of Learning and Motivation: Advances in Research and Theory, Vol. 8. New York: Academic Press. pp. 47–89.
    Barnett, A., Henderson, S.E., Scheib, B. and Schulz, J. (2009) ‘Development and Standardisation of a New Handwriting Test: the Detailed Assessment of Speed of Handwriting’, in V.Connelly, A.Barnett, J.Dockrell and A.Tolmie (eds) Teaching and Learning Writing. Monograph Series 11: Psychological Aspects of Education – Current Trends No 6. Leicester: British Psychological Society. pp. 137–58.
    Bereiter, C. and Scardamalia, M. (1982) ‘From Conversation to Composition: the Role of Instruction in a Developmental Process’, in R.Glaser (ed.) Advances in Instructional Psychology, Vol. 2. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. pp. 1–64.
    Berninger, V.W., Fuller, F. and Whittaker, D. (1996) ‘A Process Model of Writing Development across the Life Span’, Educational Psychology Review, 8(3): 193–218.
    Berninger, V., Vaughan, K., Abbott, R.D., Begay, K., Coleman, K.B., Curtin, G., Hawkins, J.M. and Graham, S. (2002) ‘Teaching Spelling and Composition Alone and Together: Implications for the Simple View of Writing’, Journal of Educational Research, 94(2): 291–304.
    Bock, K. (1995) ‘Sentence Production: From Mind to Mouth’, in J.L.Miller and P.D.Eimas (eds) Handbook of Perception and Cognition, Vol. 11: Speech, Language, and Communication. Orlando: Academic Press. pp. 181–216.
    Bock, K. and Levelt, W.J.M. (1994) ‘Language Production: Grammatical Encoding’, in M.Gernsbacher (ed.) Handbook of Psycholinguistics. New York: Academic Press. pp. 948–84.
    Bourdin, B. and Fayol, M. (1994) ‘Is Written Language Production Really More Difficult than Oral Language Production?’, International Journal of Psychology, 29(5): 591–620.
    Bourdin, B. and Fayol, M. (2002) ‘Even in Adults, Written Production is Still More Costly than Oral Production’, International Journal of Psychology, 37(4): 219–22.
    Britton, J. (1970) Language and Learning. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
    Capello, M. (2006) ‘Under Construction: Voice and Identity Development in Writing Workshop’, Language Arts, 83(6): 482–91.
    Chaffee, A.J. (1977) ‘The Ghostly Paradigm in Composition’, College English, 39(4): 477–83.
    Chan, L. (1998) ‘Children's Understanding of the Formal and Functional Characteristics of Written Chinese’, Applied Psycholinguistics, 19: 115–31.
    Christie, F. (1987) ‘Young Children's Writing: from Spoken to Written Genre’, Language and Education, 1(1): 3–13.
    Clark, L. (2000) ‘Lessons from the Nursery: Children as Writers in Early Years Education’, Reading, 34(2): 68–72.
    Cleary, L.M. (1996) ‘“I Think I Know What my Teachers Want Now”: Gender and Writing Motivation’, The English Journal, 85(1): 50–7.
    Connelly, V. and Hurst, G. (2001) ‘The Influence of Handwriting Fluency on Writing Quality in Later Primary and Early Secondary Education’, Handwriting Review, 2: 50–6.
    Crystal, D. (1995) The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    DCSF (2009) Primary National Strategy Literacy Framework. (accessed 12 August, 2009).
    Desforges, C., Bennett, N. and Cockburn, A.D. (1985) ‘Understanding the Quality of Pupil Learning Experiences’, in N.J.Entwhistle (ed.) New Directions in Educational Psychology. Lewes: Falmer Press.
    Dyson, A.H. (2002) ‘The Drinking God Factor: a Writing Development Remix for “All” Children’, Written Communication, 19(4): 545–77.
    Englert, C.S., Berry, R. and Dunsmore, K. (2001) ‘Case Study of the Apprenticeship Process: Another Perspective on the Apprentice and the Scaffolding Metaphor’, Journal of Learning Disabilities, 34(2): 152–71.
    Fayol, M. (1991) ‘Stories: a Psycholinguistic and Ontogenetic Approach to the Acquisition of Narrative Abilities’, Journal of Literary Semantics, 20(2): 78–96.
    Ferreiro, E. and Teberosky, A. (1982) Literacy before Schooling. Oxford: Heinemann.
    Fisher, R. (2002) ‘Shared Thinking: Metacognitive Modelling in the Literacy Hour’, Reading, Literacy and Language (now called Literacy), 36 (2): 64–8.
    Flower, L. (1979) ‘Writer-Based Prose: a Cognitive Basis for Problems in Writing’, College English, 41(1): 19–37.
    Garton, A. and Pratt, C. (1989) Learning to be Literate: the Development of Spoken and Written Language. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
    Gathercole, S.E. (2004) ‘Working Memory and Learning During the School Years’, Proceedings of the British Academy, 125: 365–80.
    Gathercole, S.E., Pickering, S.J., Ambridge, B. and Wearing, H. (2004) The Structure of Working Memory From 4 to 15 Years of Age. Developmental Psychology. 40(2) 177–90.
    Gibson, E. and Levin, H. (1980) The Psychology of Reading. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    Gopnik, A. (2003) ‘The Theory Theory as an Alternative to the Innateness Hypothesis’, in L.M.Anthony and N.Hornstein (eds) Chomsky and his Critics. New York: Blackwell. pp. 238–54.
    Hasan, R. (2002) ‘Semiotic Mediation and Mental Development in Pluralistic Societies: Some Implications for Tomorrow's Schooling’, in G.Wells and G.Claxton (eds) Learning for Life in the 21st Century. Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 112–26.
    Hayes, J. and Flower, L. (1980) ‘Identifying the Organization of Writing Processes’, in L.Gregg and E.Steinberg (eds) Cognitive Processes in Writing. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. pp. 3–30.
    Hayes, J.R. (2006) ‘New Directions in Writing Theory’, in C.Macarthur, S.Graham and J.Fitzgerald (eds) Handbook of Writing Research. New York: Guilford. pp. 28–40.
    Israel, S.E., Collins Block, C., Bauserman, K.L., Kinnucan-Welsch, K. (eds) (2005) Metacognition in Literacy Learning, Theory, Assessment, Instruction and Professional Development. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
    Kellogg, R. (2008) ‘Training Writing Skills: a Cognitive Development Perspective’, Journal of Writing Research, 1(1): 1–26.
    Kress, G. (1994) Learning to Write. London: Routledge.
    Kress, G. (1997) Before Writing: Rethinking the Paths to Literacy. London: Routledge.
    Larkin, S. (2010) Metacognition in Young Children. Abingdon: Routledge.
    Lareau, A. (2003) Unequal Childhoods. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
    Massey, A.J., Elliott, G.L. and Johnson, N.K. (2005) ‘Variations in Aspects of Writing in 16+ English Examinations between 1980 and 2004: Vocabulary, Spelling, Punctuation, Sentence Structure, Non-Standard English’, Research Matters: Special Issue 1. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate.
    McCutcheon, D. (2006) ‘Cognitive Factors in the Development of Children's Writing’, in C.Macarthur, S.Graham and J.Fitzgerald (eds) Handbook of Writing Research. New York: Guilford Press. pp. 115–30.
    Mortimore, P., Sammons, P., Stoll, L., Lewis, D. and Ecob, R.J. (1988) School Matters: the Junior Years. London: Open Books.
    Murray, D.M. (1979) ‘The Listening Eye: Reflections on the Writing Conference’, College English, 41(1): 13–18.
    Myhill, D., Jones, S. and Hopper, R. (eds) (2005) Talking, Listening, Learning: Effective Talk in the Primary Classroom. Buckingham: Open University Press.
    Myhill, D.A. (2009a) ‘Becoming a Designer: Trajectories of Linguistic Development’, in R.Beard, D.Myhill, J.Riley and M.Nystrand (eds) SAGE Handbook of Writing Development. London: SAGE. pp. 402–14.
    Myhill, D.A. (2009b) ‘From Talking to Writing: Linguistic Development in Writing’, in Teaching and Learning Writing: Psychological Aspects of Education – Current Trends. British Journal of Educational Psychology. Monograph Series II (6). Leicester: British Psychological Society.
    Nixon, J.G. and Topping, K.J. (2001) ‘Emergent Writing: the Impact of Structured Peer Assessment’, Educational Psychology, 21(1): 42–55.
    OECD (2002) Educational Research and Development in England. Paris: OECD.
    Olson, D. (2006) ‘Oral Discourse in a World of Literacy’, Research in the Teaching of English, 41(2): 136–43.
    Parr, J., Jesson, R. and McNaughton, S. (2009) ‘Agency and Platform: the Relationships between Talk and Writing’, in R.Beard, D.Myhill, J.Riley and M.Nystrand (eds) SAGE Handbook of Writing Development. London: SAGE. pp. 246–59.
    Perera, K. (1984) Children's Writing and Reading: Analysing Classroom Language. Oxford: Blackwell.
    Perera, K. (1986) ‘Grammatical Differentiation between Speech and Writing in Children aged 8–12’, in A.Wilkinson (ed.) The Writing of Writing. Milton Keynes. Open University Press: pp. 90–108.
    Perera, K. (1987) Understanding Language. Sheffield: NAAE.
    Prestage, S., Perks, P. and Soares, A. (2003) ‘Developing Critical Intelligence: Tensions in the DfES Model for Best Practice Research Scholarship’, Educational Review, 55(1): 55–63.
    QCA/UKLA (2004) More than Words. London: QCA.
    Schickendanz, J. and Casbergue, R. (2004) Writing in Preschool: Learning to Orchestrate Meanings and Marks. Newark, DE: IRA.
    Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council (2005) Stockport LEA Writing level descriptors. Level 1. (accessed 1 November, 2005).
    Shanahan, T. (2006) ‘Relations among Oral Language, Reading and Writing Development’, in C.Macarthur, S.Graham and J.Fitzgerald (eds) Handbook of Writing Research. New York: Guilford Press. pp. 171–86.
    Tolchinsky, L. (2006) ‘The Emergence of Writing’, in C.Macarthur, S.Graham and J.Fitzgerald (eds) Handbook of Writing Research. New York: Guilford Press. pp. 83–95.
    Tolchinsky, L. and Cintas, C. (2001) ‘The Development of Graphic Words in Written Spanish. What Can we Learn from Counterexamples?’, in L.Tolchinsky (ed.) Developmental Aspects of Learning to Write. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 77–98.
    Tucha, L., Tucha, O., Walitza, S., Kaunzinger, I. and Lange, K.W. (2007) ‘Movement Execution during Neat Handwriting’, Handwriting Review, 6: 44–8.

    • Loading...
Back to Top

Copy and paste the following HTML into your website