Saturday, 3 April 2010

East 1 Writing Project - Thames River Walk

Photograph: Eimear Daly ©2010

I am working with the East 1 Schools Partnership on an exciting writing project. Involving ten schools and sixty pupils, the project aims to inspire students to write by first immersing them in the rich cultural diversity that the city has to offer. Last week we met for the second of three experience days which found us walking by the Thames from Tower Bridge to the London Eye and coming back to the Tower of London by boat.

Students used post-it notes to record their observations, thoughts and feelings through the day and these were added to a frieze of the river made the following day using a giant roll of blue paper, pupils' drawings and photographer, Eimear Daly's wonderful photographs.

This is an ambitious project and, it seems to me, a unique one - yet from it a very useful model for creative writing is emerging. As a teacher and a writer I'm keen to nurture the desire to imagine and create as well as help young people develop the skills they need to communicate effectively.

There never seems enough time in class lessons to inspire the writing AND teach the nuts and bolts stuff of good grammar and punctuation. Could this kind of rich experience with a follow-up day of shared writing be transferred to a weekly or fortnightly experience in every primary classroom? I think it could and should. With a third day being devoted to editing skills where work is prepared for sharing with a wider audience.


breakfastgeorge said...

sounds great to me!...especially for primary school children...if they can first be encouraged to enjoy recording their thoughts, and describing events and such, then they are far more likely to be interested in the 'nuts and bolts' part, especially grammar!..grammar is over rated anyway, but if its presented as a way to improve something they've already done, to state what they are trying to say more clearly, then its usefulness will be much more real to them...
good luck with it all!

Keren David said...

Excellent..wish they would do this kind of thing for secondary kids as well.

Auntie Polly said...

I think so much is down to Local Authorities. I know in Lancashire they have been encouraging this type of approach to writing for a few years now. It's always difficult to fit everything into the primary curriculum - hopefully the renewed framework will help to empower motivated teachers like yourself to provide more opportunities for sustained writing on a variety of topics.

Val Rutt said...

Thanks for your comments. I should point out that the students are impressive writers who have been taught well and love writing. This project does include one secondary school - and yes, it feels practically impossible to fit everything into the primary-school day. Lots of schools do devote time to special projects and I know that some schools do have extended writing days on a regular basis. A commitment to it is what we need from the new curriculum. It is time consuming to work this way - but it is worth it.
And students need the opportunity to experience whole books instead of extracts of books - but maybe that's another blog!