Cluster 4

Engaging learners in imaginative writing

Catriona Mowat (mentor)

The energy and commitment of the teachers leading these projects inspired me all the way through. Wolverhampton College’s enthusiastic use of song, art and real (though online) objects, leads teachers to be more creative about engaging learners in the culture that excites us.  Their report is thoroughly backed up, linking practice to theory, with background reading for those who’d like to take this further.

Cambridge Regional College’s use of a genre that already interests learners as a key to unlocking their writing, means that horror came emphatically into lessons and formed a firm footing for development to other genres too. The project acknowledges that, like a gym workout, writing has to be built on and practised, to build up skills and ‘stickability’.

Among other varied approaches in their project, Moulton College found that using exemplary pieces that were highly graded doesn’t really work well with their learners. Instead, they used real learner writing as models to critique. These peer pieces helped learners see what was just within reach, and that they could indeed ‘tweak’ their own writing to gain those extra vital marks.

Working with these colleges was a joy! The teachers loved what they were doing so much that it brightened up my day talking to them. Add to that the fact that Wolverhampton’s early reports kept me on schedule, and my mentor life was a treat.

A Toolbox of Horror: Cambridge Regional College

Teaching English and in particular, writing, on a construction programme in an FE college, with teenage boys predominantly, could be seen as some people’s worst nightmare. Not us! Writing in a specific genre that suited the majority of our learners was the key to escaping the stereotype of a tedious English lesson and humdrum writing tasks, along with building stamina and ‘writing fitness’.

Beneath the Trees: From acorns of imagination to a forest of creativity: City of Wolverhampton College

The title of this report is taken from Chuck Berry’s famous song, “Johnny B. Goode”, which featured as a resource in our project [see Appendix 3]. The expression “Beneath the Trees” is both a homely image of security and safety and a metaphor for growth and aspiration. Similarly, this project aimed at taking our learners further along their journeys towards realising their potential with regard to creative writing skills [N.B. henceforth we will be using the term ‘Imaginative Writing’ instead of the more generic expression, ‘creative writing’, as it conforms to Edexcel’s GCSE specifications].

Bringing Writing to Life: Exploring the role of life experience in teaching writing: Mouton College

This project aimed to examine the role of individual lived experience for teaching writing. We trialled a range of methods, including dialogic questioning and tailored learning resources such as alternative peer assessment, in both Functional Skills and GCSE English lessons. We observed that when we used certain methods that encouraged learners to draw on their individual lived experience and existing knowledge, their writing improved.

Watch the group presentations at the final dissemination event by clicking play (to the right).

Access their full reports below.

A Toolbox of Horror

Cambridge Regional College

Project Number: 7a

Beneath the Trees: From acorns of imagination to a forest of creativity

City of Wolverhampton College

Project Number: 7b

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