How to Teach Writing across the Curriculum: Ages 8-14

How to Teach Writing across the Curriculum: Ages 8-14

How to Teach Writing across the Curriculum: Ages 8-14

How to Teach Writing across the Curriculum: Ages 8-14


Now in an updated second edition How to Teach Writing Across the Curriculum: Ages 6-8provides a range of practical suggestions for teaching non-fiction writing skills and linking them to children's learning across the entire curriculum. Providing a number of suggestions for teachers and putting emphasis on creative approaches to teaching children writing in diverse and innovative ways, it provides:

  • techniques for using speaking and listening, drama and games to prepare for writing
  • suggestions for the use of cross-curricular learning as a basis for writing
  • planning frameworks and 'skeletons' to promote thinking skills
  • information on key language features of non-fiction texts
  • examples of non-fiction writing
  • guidance on the process of creating writing from note-making.

With new hints and tips for teachers and suggestions for reflective practice, How to Teach Writing Across the Curriculum: Ages 6-8will equip teachers with all the skills and materials needed to create enthusiastic non-fiction writers in their primary classroom.


Some years ago, I was chatting with a group of primary children about the differences between talking and writing.

‘Which is harder?’ I asked.

They looked at me as though I was mad: ‘Writing of course!’


There was a long silence. Then a little chap with glasses put up his hand.

‘Well,’ he said, choosing his words carefully. ‘When you talk, you don’t have to think about it. You just open your mouth and the words sort of flow out… ‘

He paused, his brow furrowed. ‘But when you write…’

The rest of the class nodded encouragement.

‘Well, you have to get a pencil, and you have to get a piece of paper, and then… and then.’

We all waited agog.

‘… and then you feel really tired.’

I think that sums it up pretty well. I’ve been a professional writer for the last 25 years, and know exactly what he means. I go into my office, switch on the computer, the screen lights up, a new blank page sits before me, and I think. ‘I’ll just go and make a cup of tea.’

From speech to writing

The critical - and enormous - difference between speaking and writing is that human beings are hard-wired for speech. As long as they listen to plenty of language in their earliest years, and have opportunities to copy the sounds and words they hear, they’ll start to talk. If that talk is nurtured through interaction with adults and other children, eventually the words will just flow out.

But we aren’t hard-wired for literacy. Reading and writing are cultural constructs, and each new generation has to be taught how words can be turned into squiggly symbols on paper. What’s more, the language of writing is very different from the natural language patterns of speech.

Speech is generally interactive - we bat words and phrases back and forth. It’s produced within a shared context, so it’s fragmented, disorganised and a great deal of meaning goes by on the nod. In fact, you can get by in speech without ever forming a sentence, or at least only very simple ones. To make links between ideas, speakers tend to use very simple connectives, like the ubiquitous and or, to denote sequence, and then.

Nowadays, in a world in which images are increasingly taking over from words, speech has become even less specific. Gesture, facial expression and tone of voice are often used instead of verbal description (for instance: ‘And I was feeling like - Whaaat?’ where ‘Whaaat?’ is pronounced in a tone of exaggerated disbelief, accompanied by an expression of wide-eyed incredulity.) . . .

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