Join us in researching talk for writing

Ruth is recruiting schools / English teachers for a major research project investigating talk for writing.

What’s the project about?

The research project, which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), will investigate the impact of high quality classroom talk on children’s writing. In particular, the study will build on research which suggests that metatalk (talk about writing) may be important for the development of metalinguistic understanding. While there is extensive evidence that high quality classroom talk supports learning, very little research has examined the impact of talk on writing specifically.

 What will the project look like?

We will work closely with 6 teachers from 6 different schools to investigate the impact of high quality classroom talk on KS3 students’ writing. The study will not require teachers or students to diverge from the requirements of the KS3 National Curriculum for English. Each teacher will work with three different KS3 classes: one class for exploration in phase 1, one class for development in phase 2, and one class for intervention in phase 3. Phase 4 will involve outreach activities, including developing pedagogical and professional development materials.

What commitment does this project require?

The project spans 3 years, from January 2020 – December 2022 but the time commitment for participating teachers’ will vary depending on the phase of research. For example, phase 1 (January – July 2020) will involve 2 meetings and 2 school visits; while, phase 2 will involve 4 meetings and more data collection. The timeline below shows the expected dates of each research phase and the supply cover provided.

Phase 1: Exploratory 2: Development 3: Intervention 4: Impact & Engagement
Dates January 2020 – August 2020 September 2020-August 2021 September 2021-August 2022 September 2022-December 2022
Supply cover 5 days 10 days 7 days

What are the benefits of participating?

The new pedagogical approaches developed in the study are likely to benefit the students involved, both in terms of classroom practices and in improving their writing proficiency. For teachers, this is a rare opportunity for deep, sustained professional development in the teaching of writing. The collaborative nature of the project will also build teachers’ understanding of research processes, and their capacity to engage in knowledge exchange activities with other teachers and researchers.

If you would like to know more about the project, or are interested in taking part, please get in touch:

Research issues: PEE, PEEL, PEELA

A key focus of research in English teaching at the moment is on the dominance of paragraph scaffolds such as PEE or PEEL.

In a recent article, Simon Gibbons (Director of Teacher Education at Kings College London, former Chair of the National Association for Teachers of English) questions the origins and value of these structures:

If you would like a full copy of the article feel free to email and I’ll send you one.

An alternative way to approaching paragraphing at KS3 is explored in this open-access article, written by a teacher:

– only 4 pages long and written for teachers, this would be an ideal article to take to an English department meeting for discussion!

Coming Events: Major English Conference in June

The ‘English Shared Futures‘ event in Manchester on Friday 26th June – Sunday 28th June is the major national English conference this year. It’s a joint enterprise between The English Association and University English, with NATE, NAWE, and the Institute of English Studies.

The programme includes a really diverse and exciting range of talks, workshops, salons, master-classes, research-in-progress sessions… It is particularly characterised by the fact that it brings together authors and literature/language experts (e.g. Ali Smith, David Crystal), and people who work primarily in English education, as well as the intention to make connections between English in secondary education and English in higher education.

It presents a really significant opportunity to get insight and inspiration, and to engage with real and developing research and a well-informed, critical and rounded understanding of the field (rather than the edu-bloggers, twitter-celebrities and book-peddler/strategy-salespeople that characterise some events).

The website mentions bursaries available – would be worth asking about this on their contact form!