A whole school approach to the teaching of writing: Lessons learned from collaborative lesson research

Chamberlain, Liz and Drane, Rob (2023). A whole school approach to the teaching of writing: Lessons learned from collaborative lesson research. In: Writing Matters, UKLA International Conference, 23-25 Jun 2023, Exeter, UK.


This study details a two-year knowledge-sharing initiative between The Open University and primary school teachers from the University of Cambridge. Over the course of 18 months, teachers were encouraged to experiment with different styles of modelling, to take risks, and to make themselves vulnerable as writers in front of their pupils. As part of the school's innovative collaborative lesson research professional development, teachers participated in six bimonthly sessions that were designed around planning tasks, reading, lesson observations, co-created research questions, reflection and discussion opportunities. The objective was to create a whole school curriculum study with a clear and specific focus: how to foster a sense of purpose in young writers when they write. The inclusion of a collaborative component was thought to be especially beneficial because teachers would have the opportunity to consult with their colleagues rather than being told to introduce something new and go it alone. By engaging teachers with current writing research in this way, it gave them the autonomy – and, significantly, the confidence – to make meaningful changes in their approach to the teaching of writing. At the conclusion of the project, teachers reported feeling empowered and having greater pedagogical knowledge and understanding of the teaching of writing. Using a case study approach, two teachers will reflect on how they were not simply ‘doing writing, but also how it affected them to be asked, in their capacity as professionals, to think theoretically and practically about the impact of their practice on the individual writers in their classes.

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