Charlotte Hacking

Creating the writers of the future in the classrooms of today – harnessing the power of creative approaches in the teaching of writing.

Charlotte Hacking is the Learning and Programme Director at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE).  Her special interests lie in Early Years, early reading development, the development of writing and the use of picturebooks and poetry to raise children’s engagement and attainment. She developed and leads the CLPE’s ground-breaking Power of Pictures research, investigating the impact visual literacy and illustration can have on children’s reading and writing. Charlotte also led and developed the CLPE’s Power of Poetry research project, and is a judge for the CLPE poetry award, CLiPPA. She is currently working alongside CLPE’s Research and Development Director, Farrah Serroukh, on the development and delivery of CLPE’s Reflecting Realities in the Classroom project. In 2022, Charlotte was awarded the Anna Craft Creativities in Education Prize by BERA.

The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education’s Power of Pictures project has been investigating the effectiveness of a creative approach to the teaching of writing for the last ten years. Charlotte originally developed the project alongside author-illustrator Ed Vere, as a small-scale study in 2013, investigating the importance of teachers understanding of visual literacy and the potential of picturebooks to enhance children’s understanding of narrative structure. It was refined in a pilot project with 20 schools in 2015 and between 2017 and 2020 it was developed and trialled as an EEF randomised control trial with 101 schools and 2674 children.

The keynote will draw on learning from CLPE’s 50-year research history into how writing can be effectively taught in the primary years, as well as from the outcomes of the Power of Pictures, Reflecting Realities and CLPE’s work as the National Poetry Centre for Primary Schools to develop a better pedagogy for the teaching of writing in today’s classrooms. These approaches enable all children to see the purpose of writing, learn that writing is a creative act and to aspire to be the published writers of the future. The presentation will bring together theory and practice to share lessons and techniques that impact on pupils and teachers alike.

Guy Merchant

Why writing still matters – written communication in changing times

Guy Merchant is Professor of Literacy and Education at the Sheffield Institute of Education at Sheffield Hallam University. His research explores the ways in which literacy and technology are used in the everyday lives of children and young people. Guy has written extensively about literacy and new media. His most recent book is ‘Why Writing Matters’ which will be published later this year. ‘Stacking Stories’ (2021) was written with Cathy Burnett, Jeannie Bulman and Emma Rogers, and ‘Undoing the Digital’ (2020), and ‘New Media in the Classroom’ (2019) were co-authored with Cathy Burnett. Guy is a contributing editor of ‘Virtual Literacies’ (2013); ‘New Literacies around the Globe’ (2014); ‘Literacy, Media, Technology’ (2016) and ‘The Case of the iPad’ (2016). He is widely published in academic journals and is internationally renowned for his work on new literacies.

Does writing still matter now that so much of our communication is digital? Phone calls, video extracts, screen shots and audio notes do so much of the work previously reserved for writing. Emojis and gifs stand in place of words, predictive text removes the struggle for accurate spelling, and increasingly sophisticated speech recognition lightens the physical burden of writing. Nevertheless we write more today than we have ever done before, and many of us have access to powerful devices for saving and sharing the texts we compose. In this keynote address I will argue that now is an important time to take stock of writing – because it has changed so rapidly, and because it continues to change in fundamental ways. Writing is closely interwoven with ways of knowing, ways of being and ways of acting, and in times of rapid change and widespread uncertainty writing is central to wise action, to keep misinformation, fake news and extremist views in check and to shape our future. We should take good care of writing, since it lies at the heart of social and cultural life.

Deborah Wells Rowe

Why Preschool Writing Matters and How Adults Can Support Our Youngest Writers

Deborah Wells Rowe is the Carolyn M. Evertson professor in Teacher Education at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A. She teaches graduate and undergraduate literacy education and qualitative research methods courses. She began her career as a public-school kindergarten teacher.  After earning her Ph.D., she has spent more than three decades studying how young children learn to write in community childcare settings and in publicly funded PreK and elementary school classrooms. She is currently engaged in a research-practitioner partnership with a local school district to enhance opportunities for writing in early childhood classrooms and to study the instructional strategies of expert early writing teachers. Dr. Rowe is the author of numerous research articles and a book, Preschoolers as Authors: Literacy Learning in the Social World of the Classroom.  With co-author Sandra Wilson, she has developed the Write Start! Writing Assessment – a tool for documenting changes in young children’s writing across the preschool years. Her research on preschoolers’ writing has been recognized with the International Literacy Association’s Dina Feitelson Research Award.  She is a co-editor for the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy and has served on the board of directors for the Literacy Research Association and as a member of the International Literacy Association’s Literacy Research Panel.  

Despite more than a half century of research showing that early childhood writing is foundational to literacy learning, recent studies show that preschoolers are rarely taken seriously as writers  –  as the kinds of people who can make meaning with marks on the page or screen.  More often, adults smile at preschoolers’ “scribbles”, then turn their attention to fixing up unconventional handwriting or spelling.  When this happens, children receive a strong message that their writing is not the right kind. Their joy in playfully making marks and reading their messages gives way to reluctance, and some children put the pen down altogether.  This is a missed opportunity neither schools nor children can afford!  In this talk, I describe moves that expert preschool teachers use to recognize and engage 2- to 5-year-olds as writers.  I’ll explore how interactions around children’s texts can provide opportunities for collaborative meaning-making that is foundational to learning to write in early childhood. I”ll also share examples of preschoolers using writing as a natural testbench for figuring out how print works and for applying and integrating foundational literacy skills.  I conclude by sharing a framework for designing classroom activities that recognize and support preschoolers as writers.      

Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

Join story-legend team Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre as they discuss how words and pictures work in tandem. Find out how introducing drawing exercises into your lessons can inspire and excite children to write and create their own stories. Learn about their process of writing and illustrating together and discover the adorable world they’ve created with their new series of highly-illustrated books for early readers, ADVENTUREMICE. Take away free activities and resources to use in your classroom!

Based in Devon, co-authors Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre are just about to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their first book collaboration, Oliver and the Seawigs, which won the 2015 UKLA Book Award. Their Pugs of the Frozen North won the 2017 UKLA Book Award and the 2018 award for ‘Our Class Loves this Book’. They’ve worked together with Claire Williams, teacher and UKLA Regional Rep, to create Key-Stage 2 Teacher Packs for several of their books, including Kevin vs the Unicorns, the latest book in their series about Kevin the Roly-Poly Flying Pony, and available free on Sarah’s website: This year they launched, a one-stop shop for teachers looking for free resources for their new Adventuremice series for early readers.

Sarah has also created solo picture books and comics, including the Grumpycorn books, Dinosaur Firefighters, and Vern and Lettuce. Philip has written many of his own books for older readers, including the Mortal Engines books (the first recently made into a major motion picture), the Carnegie-Medal-winning Here Lies Arthur, the Goblins and Railhead trilogies, and his latest Utterly Dark books, beginning with Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep.

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