A process for teaching writingExtract from: ‘Strategies for writing success’ Marcelle Holliday p.25/6Setting a Purpose for WritingHow can the writing task be embedded in real life or life-like situations that will teachstudents about the place of writing in society? Some examples of such writing tasks are:writing a letter to a local newspaper to make a case for a pedestrian crossing outside theschool or recounting a visit to the zoo for a class book that will be placed in the schoollibrary.Gathering InformationWork with students to gather and organise information about their topic. For example: For atext that is sequenced by time (recount, explanation) put a timeline on the wall and showstudents how to write the information they find on sticky labels and put them on the timeline.Then, as a class, discuss the sequence and move notes if necessary.Exploring the Structure of the Target Text TypeShow students one or more examples of the text type they are to write. Discuss its structureand the reasons for the various parts. For example: Why are the steps in a procedure writtenin the order that the steps are meant to be performed?Exploring Grammatical Features of the Target Text TypeEach type of text makes use of typical grammatical features to help it fulfil its purpose. ForExample: recounts use past tense verbs to indicate the action happened in the past;explanations use time connectives to show how each event follows in time from the previousone. Work with students to explore one of the grammatical features of the text type they areto write.Engaging in Joint Construction of a TextThis step allows students to assist you as you construct the type of text they are soon to writeindependently. Use ‘think-aloud’ to explain your actions and ask students for suggestions.Example: What would be a good adjective to use here?Constructing Text independently, editing and proofreadingAfter the previous steps students are in a position to construct their own text independently.You might provide some scaffolding such as a structured overview or sentence starters. Thisstep can take one lesson, or it might take several lessons to complete. Word processortechnology is most useful at this stage because students can edit and change their text asthey choose without the problem of writing and rewriting numerous drafts.
Using the Students’ TextsFind a way to use the texts the students have written for a real life or life-like purpose. Youmight want to link your teaching unit into a community event or issue and arrange for yourstudents to display their writing on a community noticeboard or have a letter printed in alocal paper.Assessing writingAssessment provides the best guide to what your students already know and can do withtheir writing. Assessment gives a clear starting point for programming and teaching, andhelps you to decide what features of the selected text type to focus on and what support toprovide so that students will achieve success.