What do you read?

What do you read and what do you enjoy reading? How can good reading help to encourace good writing.

Teacher training on the first day of the spring term was the start a school wide investigation in to improving writing standards. All staff were asked to bring something they enjoy reading; book, news papers, magazine, leaflets, supermarket publications, anything.

There was a certainly a mix on the media presented, books we in abundance as expected but so were magazines and news papers. I was the only one digital media (surprisingly!) been as how I tend to read mostly on computer - books, websites, news papers, BBC news all at might finger tips within seconds of publication. There are a lot of advantages to this media but there were no converts in my group. Across the school there was roughly an even mix of fact and fiction, with a wide range of genre even from the same people, some of the most popular choices were biographies, fantasy, family saga, crime and travel.  

In my group there were two whose reading was purely for pleasure and two who read for information. I'm in the later, having never enjoyed reading my self at school, and even with seven years working at the library with a couple of hundred thousand to go at I will have read less than one fiction book a year. However I don't mind the odd non-fiction for reference although they are not really what you would call bed time reading (I have to admit I have). Looking at my bookshelf there quite similar; Access 2002 for Dummies, How to build your own database powered website in php, MySQL the list continues along the same lines. That definitely main staple diet with the odd organic chemistry or forensic science book still there from my uni days.

But how does all they help improve writing? Well there were a few suggestions from the group but I'm going to talk more here about my own experiences. Mostly in school children's writing is corrected as they type, if not by a member of staff, MS office spell check will let you know with every word. I've seen, and experienced, been stopped in full flow to be told of a mistake. If you've read much of my blog you will find numerous mistakes. I've had a number of emails advising me to correct it. The chances are, if you can understand what I'm trying to say, I have corrected it a few times.

I can't type, or spell as fast as I think of what to write, I need to just get it down on paper (so to speak!) even if it make no sense to anyone else. Once down I will tweak it but I do some much having to check each document 3 or 4 times with at least 24 hours in between to make sure I read what's written and not remember what I think I wrote. This does put a little damper on my excitement and ultimately I probably only publish half of what post I write and a quarter of what I would like to.

What response would my work get?

In reception and KS1 probably very positive, substance doesn't matter as long as something on the page. In year 6, I don't think I want to find out (although attitudes have moved on). My writing in year 2 (so about age 6) was not so good. From the response at the training day I don't think it would happen today but I still have some where the positive and constructive comment in a school report 'put a pencil in Lee's hand and you paralyse him from the neck down' - all I can say is that has worn off somewhat that or the keyboard has never had the same effect! Back then my spelling was the issue - shouted at for, what seemed like, every mistake. Even at that age I worked out; I write a lot with mistake and get lots of shouting for lots of mistake. Write very little and I get a little shouting for not writing anything. I obviously choose the latter.

Thank You

I'll leave it there aside to say Thank you to Mr Davis in year 5 who was very encouraging and spotted the discrepancy between my understanding when expressed verbally compared with on paper and got me tested for dyslexia. Without him I wonder where I would be today?