Flowing Tales is an online after school writing club (over 10 weeks) and holiday writing camp (over 10 days) for children aged between 7 and 12. The children receive high-quality personalised feedback from qualified teachers (our club leaders) who assess their work using the 2014 UK Literacy curriculum. The feedback is targeted and extremely positive. The result is that a child who participates will typically make 4 months of ‘value added’ progress.
How is this progress achieved?
Our club leaders begin the assessment process soon after a child begins writing. This is formally ‘benchmarked against the 2014 UK National Literacy Curriculum after the 2nd draft of the first chapter. This allows for highly focussed guidance for each child and we track progression until the end of the final chapter, using the same methodology as RAISEONLINE reporting and the progression criteria used by OFSTED.
There are five key differences from “normal” writing in the classroom:
1. The stimulating visual environment that the child is working in
2. Writing on electronic devices, which is novel and appealing
3. Handwriting isn’t a barrier to producing outstanding work
4. The incentive of a development pathway that enables their work to be ‘published’ as an eBook or professionally published paperback book (available for a small charge)
5. Using our encouraging ‘house feedback style’ our camp leaders are able to forge a mentor-like relationship with the children as they are not responsible for classroom behaviour and discipline. This key social difference inspires and motivates the children to improve upon their work.
Below is an example of how the Camp Leader gives feedback to each child and challenges them to improve specific aspects of their writing.
Tailored to your school
We configure our writing camps and brief our camp leaders to deliver the maximum teaching and learning impact. Each club is created specifically for your school and your children. So, if they are undertaking map-work in geography, or are learning about the Elizabethans, we can create story titles to help to consolidate learning using a cross-curricular approach – for example, historical fiction based on the Elizabethan period that has pirates and treasure maps as integral plot lines!
Flowing Tales can also be tailored to address specific year groups, SAT cohorts, children about to undertake 11+, Common Entrance and Senior School entrance examinations, Gifted and Talented, Special Educational Needs, English as an additional language, or simply employed as a boost to writing confidence or to discover a love of creative writing.
Flowing Tales has been designed and tested to provide multiple opportunities to engage children of differing abilities, personalities and interests into producing outstanding creative writing.
There are many opportunities to collaborate, and the children are given active tasks to include other children’s characters, locations and ideas within the story. This ensures that they read each other’s work and they develop critical appreciation skills as they discuss what has worked well so far. They learn about the narrative devices that need to be used to include the work of others to take the story forward, and they are able to read each other’s completed chapters, characters and locations.
There is some competition; whilst all children contribute elements to the story and are credited in the final book, they are both supporting and competing with each other to provide one of the three story chapters in the end of chapter reviews and ratings. Boys in particular find this element appealing, it teaches resilience and we’ve found it really motivates the children in the latter stages of the club. We recognise that it is important for all children to experience success and this is why the club leader can ensure every child contributes at least a character or a location to the story and that everyone receives credit in the published book.
Comprehension skills are also developed as the children are challenged to continue the story from the winning chapter.
All of our club leaders are teachers
Some are Headteachers, and some are even school inspectors! What they have in common is that they have been carefully selected and referenced as being outstanding practitioners. But perhaps even more importantly, our club leaders are given the time to produce in-depth quality feedback.
In every club, a typical 10 children camp will benefit from 2 ½ full teaching days of focussed assessment and feedback. With no distractions. This means that when combined with our specially created additional scaffolding activities to support story creation, we deliver a unique experience that has the children bursting with motivation and enthusiasm. So much so that they don’t even realise that they are learning.
Flowing Tales offers a novel approach to creative writing that has a demonstrable impact on literacy attainment, engagement, confidence and appreciation. The children work in an online environment where they receive personalised feedback from qualified teachers and are able to collaborate with their peers to produce an electronic and printed book.
Key Benefits (Children)
• It’s fun and encourages them to continue writing
• Average progression of 4 months in the creative writing strand of literacy (in both boys and girls)
• Improves literacy engagement and appreciation
• Promotes collaboration creativity and independent learning
• Improves IT skills in a safe learning environment
• High Quality focussed personalised feedback and target setting
• A development pathway to participating in the creation of a printed book; all children experience success.
Key Benefits (Schools)
• Assessment and target setting based on the 2014 literacy curriculum
• Each 10 child camp or club receives over two days of teacher time – so the quality of the feedback is outstanding
• All data shared with school – including benchmarking and progression – so schools can cross-reference with their own data
• High impact with children of all abilities
• No additional staff workload – we mark all the scripts and manage the camps.
• Creation of high-quality ebooks and books which increase the profile of the school
• Camps and clubs can be fully tailored to tie in with school topics and whole school learning objectives and timetables.
If you are an educational organisation who are interested in making Flowing Tales available to your pupils then please contact us – we’d love to hear from you.
“Flowing Tales has had a profoundly positive and dramatic effect on writing attainment amongst the children who have participated at Pownall Hall School. It supports our teachers in developing more confident, enthusiastic writers who return to school after each holiday bubbling with ideas and with markedly improved technical writing skills. The support the children receive from the ‘camp leaders’ is clearly exceptional, but the genius of the idea is in giving the children a development pathway to become ‘published authors’. I can’t recommend Flowing Tales highly enough to both schools and to parents.”
David Goulbourn, Headmaster, Pownall Hall School, Wilmslow, Cheshire.