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Do teacher imposed models help or hinder?

Over the last few weeks, in the 7 - 9 creative writing group, we have been working on descriptive language using a range of different poetic structures. The beauty of these is that children are able to experiment with, and focus on, their word choices without the added complexity of having to create their own form or structure. This works incredibly well with poetry and has produced some wonderful vocabulary. Working in a group, the children were able to learn from one another and to debate the 'rightness'of the words chosen. However, this hasn't been my experience with story writing. One of my 1:1 pupils is frequently given a story writing task to complete in school but finds the focus on having to follow a set structure both limiting and restrictive. The converse of this, is that many children, when given the freedom to 'write a story' feel completely overwhelmed and don't know where to start. All children are not the same and all writers are not the same. Writing is not formulistic and not all children respond to the same approach. Yes, by all means, let's use structures where they are helpful, but let's also recognise that, like riding a bike with stabilisers, there is a time to remove these and let the children's natural creativity flow!

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