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Six Weeks Writing in Two Secondary School Classrooms

David Philips

Philip, a fourth former in a Wellington high school, was not very keen on writing. He thought little of his own writing ability, tended to write very slowly and was of the view that his difficulties with spelling prevented him from writing down good ideas. For Philip, writing was indeed hard work. Not all students find writing as painful as he does. Philip and several other students told me what they thought of writing as I looked on. Two of us spent six weeks in a third form (Year 8) and six weeks in a fourth form (Year 9) to find out how
13- and 14-year-olds approach the tasks which writing presents. We also noted how their teachers in English, Science and Social/Economic Studies were using written work as a part of their teaching. The students and teachers were interviewed regularly and actual samples of writing were examined while the students were producing them and afterwards. What strategies were used by the students when writing? How did the teachers tell their students what to write?

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