Do we value pupils’ writing?

Why do we ask pupils to write? There may be very many answers to that question but in my experience of working with teachers and observing lessons, overwhelmingly, teachers ask pupils to write in order to check that lesson content has been understood. This is of course a worthy aim, but do we value the actual writing?

In a lesson I observed last year, a science teacher had taught her Year 8 class about Marie Curie and her discovery of radium. In order to check they had understood, she asked them to write a letter to Madame Curie informing her of how her discovery had changed the world. As this was a science lesson the teacher had, quite rightly, not spent any time teaching her students how to write letters. The result was, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the pupils produced dreadfully written letters with little understanding of the mode of writing and numerous grammatical and spelling mistakes. OK, not great but it was at least an opportunity to identify and correct their mistakes. But no: the teacher then festooned these letters with ticks and ‘well dones’. Why? Because they had understood the content. But what had they learned about writing?

Read more on The Learning Spy…

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