/ Let's rid teachers of the writing collywobbles
Let's rid teachers of the writing collywobbles
Dr Ian HunterPosted by Dr Ian Hunter, Oct 26 '22

As expected, the findings of the Australian Education Research Organisation report (AERO) on persuasive writing assessment brought out feelings of inevitability, frustration, and even bewilderment in the comments section of an article in the Sydney Morning Herald

According to the report, the teaching of writing gives teachers the collywobbles.  Who would want to stand in front of a class of Year 12 students and model good writing if you haven’t been taught thoroughly how?  And if we haven’t equipped our teachers to do the write thing, how can we expect them to support our students?  The good news: a real solution is not too ‘far and away’. 

Released in August this year, Raising Australia’s Writing Outcomes: A Way Forward—one of the largest writing studies ever conducted in Australia—found Queensland schools using Writer’s Toolbox more than doubled their NAPLAN writing improvement rates across every year level (Y3, 5, 7, and 9) compared to the state.  And for boys, that increase over state improvement was nearly ten times.

How?  By embedding easy-to-understand writing instruction in classrooms and putting teachers first.  

St John Fisher College, one of the 71 schools which took part in the study, saw the effects of this policy: “Our teachers are now a lot more confident in their teaching and modelling of writing, and we’re seeing the sheer amount of improvement that’s making,” says Teacher Development Leader Jade Bricknell.  “You have a greater chance of success sitting within Writer’s Toolbox for an effective whole-school writing culture.” 

When teachers of any subject are confident, enthusiastic writers, they pass that on to their students.  But none of this happens by osmosis.

Australian students need to know that, no, the PEEL paragraph does not cut the mustard.  Neither does using commas like ketchup.  If Year 9’s are not explicitly taught to write—with a complete writing system—little wonder they are writing like Year 3s.  Their common writing problems won't solve themselves. 

See the results for yourself.  You can find the complete study of how 71 schools raised their NAPLAN writing results here: Raising Australia’s Writing Outcomes: A Way Forward.

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