Encouraging Boys to Engage in Writing: A Study of Classroom Culture and Behaviours

Dr Chris White
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This paper presents findings from a study of two Year 4 classrooms, one in UK and one in USA, in which boys are seen to be particularly committed and effective writers and enthusiastic and sensitive supporters of others' writing. The presentation focuses on the conditions for learning created by each teacher, and the ways in which boys (and girls) respond to these. The teachers are shown to retain control of the lessons whilst affording pupils agency to direct their own work Key issues discussed are: characteristics of effective classroom cultures to support pupils' learning, the nature of constructive discourse between teacher and pupils and amongst pupils, the balance between support and challenge for pupils, the importance of a dialogic pedagogy in the teaching of writing. Conclusions are drawn about the aspects of these classrooms that particularly enable boys to flourish, and more broadly about the characteristics of and reasons for the effectiveness of these teachers. The original work was part of a longitudinal PhD study, extended by post-doctoral research.

Keywords: Boys' Writing, Conditions for Learning, Classroom Discourse, Dialogic Pedagogy, Control and Agency, Effective Learning and Teaching
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr Chris White

Head of School of Education, School of Education, Bath Spa University College

Chris White taught in UK primary schools for 15 years, ending as a headteacher in Oxfordshire, before moving into higher education. He ran inservice courses in English and was Director of the Kent Reading and Language Development Centre. His research focuses on pupils' writing in the primary school, particularly on ways of accommodating the communicative and social aspects of writing within the classroom context. He has studied this in England, Europe and the USA, completing a PhD in 1998. This focus has now broadened to include a more general consideration of the classroom culture and conditions that enable pupils to engage with their own learning. He was Head of Inservice Education at Christ Church College Canterbury, then Head of Primary Education. He is currently Head of the School of Education at Bath Spa University College. His current work includes leading three large school improvement projects focusing on effective learning and teaching, and the establishment of a Creative Learning Research Centre.

Ref: L05P0242