Why teaching writing isn’t just for English teachers

Teaching writing should not just be the job of English teachers, according to Alex Quigley, director of research at Huntington School in York.

Quigley says that every subject leader has to take responsibility for teaching the writing style that best suits their subject, be it evaluative writing in science or the very different challenge of historical analysis.

“Each subject has its labyrinth of words and subtle, generic structures,” he writes in the 12 June issue of TES. “So we cannot leave it to the English teachers. We need to make each step of the writing process more visible for our students – in every subject.”

This should be done first and foremost through modelling skilful writing, Quigley says.

“It is too easy to assume that a proficient reader will automatically be a good writer,” he explains. “Reading and writing draw from the same wellspring of knowledge but are very different skills. We need to model skilful writing on a daily basis, in every subject area, at the same time as explaining the nuances of language choices and the many revisions that make for successful writing.”

Quigley goes on to give tips for how to do this effectively, the first of which is to use checklists.

“Checklists are a simple but potent way to help students remember the strategies they need to deploy when writing,” he writes. “Such checklists can be devised by the teacher, collaboratively as a group or individually by the student. This can, and should, become a habit for each and every piece of writing. Checklists are free and easy to implement and they can be created for each of the three stages of great writing: planning, monitoring and evaluation.”

For the rest of the tips, read the full article in the 12 June issue of TES. You can do so on your tablet or phone, or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.

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