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The Battle with ‘Writing Stamina’

After some grim nationwide writing outcomes final 12 months, and many conversations with faculty leaders about their post-Covid instructing and studying priorities, writing is excessive on many faculties’ precedence listing.

Widespread points which were raised to me by faculty colleagues are broad ranging, from points with spelling, to prolonged writing, problematic writing assessments, and way more.

Maybe the commonest criticism and problem I hear is the assertion: ‘my pupils lack writing stamina.

The issue is that I’m not certain many lecturers agree on what they imply by ‘writing stamina’, by no means thoughts making instructing selections to handle the seeming wrestle.

What will we imply by ‘writing stamina’ anyway?

For a lot of lecturers, an absence of writing stamina characterises an incapability to write down independently for a sustained interval. And but, it most likely characterises a broader vary of behaviours that attend writing (and studying). Only a pattern of those may embody:

  • Restricted handwriting fluency. For youthful pupils particularly the motor abilities required of prolonged writing is tough work. In consequence, their handwriting high quality can shortly slip. For older pupils too, the hassle and a focus on handwriting can wane.
  • Working dry of concepts. For a lot of pupils, with an urge to get going with a tough writing process, they rush into the act. They plan sparingly. In consequence, their preliminary enthusiasm is dimmed they usually run out of artistic concepts, or deep information of the subject at hand.
  • Errors improve in pupils prolonged writing. Pupils embark on their writing, however they lack the power and stamina to edit and revise what they’ve written. In consequence, their writing is error strewn and apparently maxed out of all stamina.
  • Motivation is low to maintain going with a writing process. Each trainer has battled with the truth of pupils claiming, ‘I’ve completed!’ in a matter of minutes, or gnashed their enamel as a pupil has plonked their head on the desk throughout the act of writing.

The notion that pupils are missing in ‘writing stamina’ may account for an array of problematic causes. If we don’t decipher the underlying causes, then we threat not discovering options for pupils’ struggles. For instance, we have to higher discriminate emotional components, equivalent to effort and motivation, from knowledge-related components equivalent to having too little background information or being unclear how one can plan successfully.

Diagnosing ‘writing stamina’ struggles with the ‘Easy View of Writing’

A useful mannequin to border the advanced problem of writing, and writing stamina, is the ‘Easy View of Writing’. See this tailored graphic from the EEF steerage report:

Graphic taken from ‘Bettering literacy in Secondary Colleges’, by the Training Endowment Basis

The ‘Easy View’ does what it says on the tin. It helps to easily and chunk down the advanced act of writing. It may assist higher categorise the difficulty of writing stamina. For example:

  • Transcription and writing stamina. Pupils lack fluency and automaticity of their handwriting. Moreover, gaps of their spelling information are drawing on treasured psychological vitality that pupils want to order for choosing phrases, composing sentences and extra.
  • Composition and writing stamina. Pupils lack a breath and depth of vocabulary to attract upon to precise their concepts. They wrestle to deploy tutorial language or hyperlink their concepts with sentence signposts, equivalent to as a result of, nevertheless, and in distinction. Their sentences are both truncated and too easy, or they run on and on, with too little sense. Wanting concepts, pupils wrestle with most types of prolonged writing.
  • Government operate and writing stamina. Pupils don’t plan or monitor their writing to make high quality enhancements. Their sense of what a ‘good effort’ would compose of is missing. They lack the habits of the writing course of – equivalent to rigorously enhancing and making extra revisions to what they’ve written – and quit too simply. They don’t get pleasure from writing, nor really feel they’re being profitable, so they simply surrender.

Like all mannequin that tries to make sense of advanced studying, the ‘Easy View’ has its limits. In fact, these components work together, the boundaries are blurred, and never each situation is satisfactorily addressed. And but, it helps us get one step nearer to a shared understanding of the obvious wrestle with ‘writing stamina’. That shared understanding then brings us nearer to addressing the difficulty.

For 3 completely different pupils, you may diagnose a distinct problem:

  • Janet has points weak spelling (transcription), a lack of understanding of the duty and the subject they should write about (composition), and poor enhancing (exec operate).
  • James displays low effort and motivation for many writing duties (exec operate).
  • Jamila tries onerous, has some good concepts, however her onerous to learn run-on sentences (composition) and non-existent planning retains tripping her up (exec operate).

There aren’t any fast fixes for these struggles, for pupils like Janet, James, and Jamila, however a greater understanding of their writing stamina issues poses a helpful start line.