Building Boys' Confidence

Building Boys' Confidence

 Write that Essay started here about two years ago.  For us as a boys’ school it was a welcome initiative because we could see the boys writing lagging behind: their reading lags behind, but their writing was even worse.  It gave us a good structure to teach strategies to the boys.  Ian’s great at getting his message across to the boys.  We get really positive feedback on the writing workshops that he has done with them.


The boys’ confidence has improved and they know how to start.  Often we would get boys who had the ideas, but were unable to formulate an introductory paragraph.  Additionally, some of our top students were prone to waffling: they would just have a stream of consciousness argument going on.


One of the most significant things for us was being able to have different sentence types that we could specifically say to the boys’: ‘Here’s a paragraph you’ve written, why not try a simple sentence at the start or a power sentence at the end?’  And they could see a minor bit of editing could really improve their work.


It’s easier now for them to think: ‘Oh wow, this sentence style would actually work better here than the one I’ve used.’  Bringing in the paragraph structures has had a marked effect, the boys are writing much more effective hooky introductions.  In terms of planning, the bullet pointed list is much more practical rather than the old brainstorm all over the page – even the boys can see it is much quicker to organise their ideas.


As a teacher, I quite like Dr Ian’s emphasis on competitive games and peer writing when they are developing a paragraph or revising a paragraph.  That appeals quite nicely to boys.  We give the boys a range of three or four sentence styles to choose from and set them a task of 150/180-word paragraph.  Not only do they find it challenging, but they learn how to go back, edit, and craft their work.


In terms of WTE online, the most useful aspect for me as a teacher has been that students can always go back and look at video tutorials.  They can always look up what something means: what a red, white, and blue sentence is, or what a multi-purpose introduction looks like.  And I think another great advantage of the site is that parents can see their child’s writing and can work on it at home.  


Case Study

Teacher   Liz Minogue, HOD English
Objective   Lifting student confidence
Key Impact   Improved writing capabilities