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How Independent is Independent Writing?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by Stuuuuuu, Jul 6, 2015.

  1. Stuuuuuu

    Stuuuuuu New commenter

    I've seen schools where they just go off and do an independent write in the truest sense - with no preparation in advance; just go ahead and write.

    I've seen schools spend a couple of weeks writing a text type, before writing a second one in independent writing books, but with a slight variation (e.g. instructions on how to do something similar - but slightly different - to what they wrote the first time).

    Other schools do lots of practise of the skills involved in the text type, then write the text and a couple of weeks later, write a similar one (slight variation) but with their literacy books open in front of them so they can look at the sentences they have been writing while they practised the skills.

    Is there a definitive way of doing an independent write? Can anyone provide a source of the 'correct' or standard approach to it?

  2. summlard

    summlard New commenter

    Well I think it's vital that children study texts before writing one of their own. Plus having models and wagolls is highly understandable. Even as adults how many of us can truly write every text type without looking at some examples first?
  3. firecracker

    firecracker New commenter

    We do hot and cold writing tasks, cold is just write about . . . hot is after teaching skills etc. Hopefully the hot task is better !
  4. We've just started this and it seems to book end work really well and shows progress. I like it and it beats the kids just sitting there and doing a Big Write. They used to dread that.
  5. School Boy Error

    School Boy Error Occasional commenter

    I trained as a county moderator this year and moderated several schools last month in Key Stage 2.

    Cold tasks are discouraged! You can use success criteria and you can have spent several days looking at a text type and drafting.

    Initially, this was not what I would have classed as independent. However, I can see the point about using success criteria etc. If I gave Year 2 a list of features to include, e.g. fronted adverbials, complex sentences etc etc, it's doubtful they'd do it. The argument is the children need to understand the features to use them and listing them on a piece of success criteria doesn't explain anything.

    The best books I saw showed evidence of a wide range of reading and text analysis as well as a wide range of genres. None of these had to be cold or away from the point of teaching and this was all communicated with head teachers throughout the year...
  6. cassandramark2

    cassandramark2 Lead commenter

    I beg to differ. I am an experienced Senior Moderator and base my final judgements upon 'cold tasks' and writing across the curriculum.
    rubinap likes this.
  7. School Boy Error

    School Boy Error Occasional commenter

    Ok. I can only talk from the point of view of our LA and we've been explicitly told that cold tasks are discouraged. This might cause some of this issues we have nationally if LA's are telling their moderators different things....
  8. cassandramark2

    cassandramark2 Lead commenter

    I agree. To quote that much hated phrase, 'We should all be singing from the same hymn sheet.'

    However, I can't see how one could actually award a level without having access to completely independent writing. The STA advise against basing a judgement upon scaffolded work. That's why we are supposed to ask for cross-curricular writing.
  9. CarrieV

    CarrieV Lead commenter

    My writing was recently moderated and by the county chief assessment guru, so I supose she knows what she wants to see, which was:

    1) normal day to day writing with success criteria, modelling etc-which she used as a kind of baseline

    2) independent writing, children writing in a text type they had covered previously and were aware of the features of,where success criteria were not given but were used as a post writing self assessment-which she used as a sort of "minimum level" This included cross curricular work

    3) cold writing-where the children were given the task but had to devise their own format/genre/style-which was generally the deciding factor especially for the higher levels!

    What she didn't want to see was lots of "Pip Davenport" essays!
  10. School Boy Error

    School Boy Error Occasional commenter

    Exactly! And I completely agree with the range in topic books, although we use one book for everything so they have their writing in "literacy" and of course their extended writes in other curriculum areas.
  11. cassandramark2

    cassandramark2 Lead commenter

    Well, we all agree on most things. We are a united band of brothers ( and sisters ).

    God only knows what's coming in 2016. I was supposed to trial the new PDs for KS2 writing but the STA briefing has been cancelled THREE times.

    We are all in the dark re: next year's writing assessment.

    Until then, let's all have a great summer with the success criteria:

    - You will have applied your sunscreen

    - You will have used a range of higher level cocktails (or beer, if appropriate)

    - You will have demonstrated that you understand the key features of a variety of holiday genres, e.g. beach, theme park, campsite, swanky hotel (sans offspring), home - well, we all have to spend some time here at some point.

    Not long to go now. Best wishes for a stress free summer break
    wicked witch likes this.
  12. School Boy Error

    School Boy Error Occasional commenter

  13. rubinap

    rubinap New commenter

    If all this scaffolded work is allowed in writing and then work produced from it allowed to influence a child's competency then bring back calculators. Having teachers support a child's assessment piece is like giving a child a tool so we
    might as well give children calculators in Maths.
  14. rubinap

    rubinap New commenter

    We should be teaching children to write 'independently' so that they can write without an adult! If a child is having to rely on direct teaching of a genre in English units and is unable to produce a suitable text weeks or months after direct teaching then exactly how secure is the child with writing? Perhaps they are not at the expected level.
  15. Stillstayingjohnson

    Stillstayingjohnson Occasional commenter

    My school have implemented both an assisted (post-learning with working wall and s2s) and an independent write (completely free, 2 weeks into a new writing style). The independent write goes into a 'freewriting' book. Assisted writing is filed.

    Has given me a pretty clear idea of what my students can achieve. It's been hard having to mark some really imaginative and very able writers below 'ARE' this year.
  16. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Welcome to secondary controlled assessment. Primary will go the same way.

    Ask a teacher, what is a child's cold writing like compared to coached writing and the range is considerable. Judge a school or a teacher on a child's 'writing ability' and see which one gets used!

    They should sit the test in Year 7 at the secondary school to measure the retention. Secondary schools can then be measured on progress from this point. That would be the best way to get an objective measure as the secondary school would do nothing to help them get an assisted grade!
  17. tandemtinker

    tandemtinker New commenter

    TA for Y6 writing is flawed! Of course CTs will " scaffold " and control the finished product and a false result will ensue! I was a Y6 teacher when the writing exam in the SATs at least gave an honest result! We did coach the entrants in a variety of genres and, come the exam day, the children were all, hopefully, prepared for whatever topic was put in front of them......the fault of the SAT writing test was in the over-complicated 30+ marks awarded, resulting in a variance of marks......marks out of ten, or A to E, would have simplified marking, and we teachers would have accepted it.
  18. wicked witch

    wicked witch New commenter

    My guess is that eventually the writing part of assessment will be phased out and we will just do the grammar instead. Easy to mark and not subjective at all. Also not at all indicative of a child's ability to write well but I don't think that will worry anyone at the DofE.
  19. cassandramark2

    cassandramark2 Lead commenter

    I beg to differ. There was no guarantee of 'an honest result'. I was a SATs marker at one stage in my career and, during training sessions, I couldn't believe that people with virtually no experience were responsible for this task. It was an absolute lottery in terms of the quality of the marker, many of whom relied totally upon the exemplar materials rather than being able to draw upon professional experience.

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