How to Teach Writing across the Curriculum: Ages 6-8

How to Teach Writing across the Curriculum: Ages 6-8

How to Teach Writing across the Curriculum: Ages 6-8

How to Teach Writing across the Curriculum: Ages 6-8


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 on Woman’s Hour. It was a debate about the relative importance of ‘old and new literacies’, and I’d been invited along as the representative of a bygone age to talk about reading and writing. My fellow debater was an ICT specialist called Dr Chris Yapp, who advises government on the skills today’s children will need when they eventually enter the workforce.

At the time, I was besotted with information technology. When asked what I thought of ‘new literacies’ I launched into an enthusiastic speech about how computers could make the learning of basic skills much more fun, and how wonderful multimedia is for cross-curricular learning.

It was a bit of a surprise when Dr Yapp cut across me with the words, ‘Yes that’s all very well, but the children have to be able to read properly first.’

He then explained that in the future computer keyboards will only be used for instructions – indeed keyboards may fade completely away as touch-screen technology develops. The main way we’ll input information into our computers will be via voice-activated software (this is already increasingly the case in high-tech offices). So to prepare children to speak clearly and grammatically into voice-activated software, they need to practise reading aloud.

I drove home from the broadcast frantically considering the implications of Dr Yapp’s prediction. If adults of the future will seldom actually write anything down, how should today’s teachers teach writing skills? Will they be seen as increasingly less important, and attention turn more and more to the teaching of speaking and listening?

It’s due to several years’ engagement with this issue that this new edition of How to Teach Writing Across the Curriculum has a different emphasis (and a very different teaching model) from the earlier one. Discussion with colleagues from many disciplines convinces me that any advice on writing should begin with in-depth discussion about the differences between writing and speech.

From speech to writing

The critical – and enormous – difference between the two uses of language is that human beings are hard-wired for speech. As long as they listen to plenty of talk and song in their earliest years, and have opportunities to copy the sounds and words they hear, they’ll start to talk themselves. And if that talk is nurtured through interaction with adults and other children, they’ll eventually become fluent speakers.

But that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily become fluent writers. As one loquacious ten-year-old told me, when I asked him why speaking is so much easier than writing, ‘Well, when you talk, you don’t have to think about it. You just open your mouth and the words sort of flow out … But when you write … erm, you have to get a pencil, and you have to get a piece of paper, and then … and then … and then you feel really tired.’

I know lots of talkative children who feel really tired when confronted with a pencil and . . .

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