A project looking at what turns children on or off creative writing shows that they like making creative decisions and having the opportunity to use their own imagination in their work.
Being able to "make it their own" was a source of pride and pleasure for all age groups. They liked experimenting with ways of presenting their work to make it come to life. But younger children didn't really understand why teachers wanted them to write stories and tended to enjoy and concentrate on making their work look like "real books". By the time they reached Year 6, they saw writing exercises as being less about creativity and more about spelling and neatness.
Age was also a signifier in how children liked to carry out riting tasks. Younger children liked the security and companionship of writing in small groups. Year 6 pupils tended to prefer quieter and more independent conditions. Some of the older pupils also resented sharing their ideas and having their work copied by others.
The project highlighted the problems less confident writers have in understanding tasks. They often cope by focusing on presentation and group support. More confident writers, however, evaluate their work in terms of creativity, spelling and presentation, and seem more intolerant of classroom noise.
Words Matter - Thinking and Talking About Writing in the Classroom by Julia Flutter, Homerton College, Cambridge, e-mail: JAED100@cam.ac.uk