Sie sind auf Seite 1von 118

The Writing Treasure Chest

Simple Strategies:
Writing that works

© www.thewritingtreasurechest.com
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Copyright © www.thewritingtreasurechest.com 2019

Sydney, Australia

The Copyright Act 1968 of Australia allows a maximum of one chapter or 10% of this book, whichever is the greater to be copied by any
educational institution for its educational purposes provided that that educational institution (or the body that administers is) has given
remuneration notice to Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) under the Act. For details of the CAL licence for educational institutions contact:

Copyright Agency Limited, telephone: (02) 9394 7600, email: info@copyright.com.au

All rights reserved. Except under the conditions described in the Copyright Act 1968 of Australia and subsequent amendments, no part of this
publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any other form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

Printed in Australia

Every effort has been made to trace and acknowledge copyright. However, should any infringement have occurred, we tender our apologies
and invite copyright owners to contact us.

2
Simple Strategies: writing that works

“Learning to write is about learning to be powerful”


Myhill & Jones (2006)

3
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Contents
‘Children want to write…’ ................................................................................................................................................. 6
Background ....................................................................................................................................................................... 8
Rationale ......................................................................................................................................................................... 10
Effective Writing Practice................................................................................................................................................ 15
Methodology................................................................................................................................................................... 16
Student Development ..................................................................................................................................................... 18
Programming for Writing Instruction ............................................................................................................................. 21
Planning with Learning Intentions & Success Criteria ................................................................................................ 23
An Overview .................................................................................................................................................................... 25
The Writing Lesson.......................................................................................................................................................... 27
Goals for Student Writing ............................................................................................................................................... 32
Editing & Feedback ......................................................................................................................................................... 35
Ideas for Feedback .......................................................................................................................................................... 37
Reading ........................................................................................................................................................................... 38
Themes:....................................................................................................................................................................... 39
Summarising: .............................................................................................................................................................. 40
Character:.................................................................................................................................................................... 43
Thinking: ...................................................................................................................................................................... 44
Further Reading Activities: .......................................................................................................................................... 47
Fluency ............................................................................................................................................................................ 48
Purpose: ...................................................................................................................................................................... 48
Procedure:................................................................................................................................................................... 48
Suggested Fluency Story Topics .................................................................................................................................. 50
Suggested Fluency Writing Banks ............................................................................................................................... 51
Further Fluency Tasks: ................................................................................................................................................ 53
Organisation: ............................................................................................................................................................... 53
Layout: ........................................................................................................................................................................ 53
Recording: ................................................................................................................................................................... 54
Timing: ........................................................................................................................................................................ 54
Examples of Fluency Progression .................................................................................................................................... 55
Developing Writing ......................................................................................................................................................... 59
The Sentence:.............................................................................................................................................................. 60
The Recount Story:...................................................................................................................................................... 63
The Story Outline: ....................................................................................................................................................... 67
Once Upon a Time…: ................................................................................................................................................... 71
4
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Descriptive Paragraph: ................................................................................................................................................ 74


Simple Stories: ............................................................................................................................................................ 77
Exploring Writing ............................................................................................................................................................ 80
Microscope Sentences: ............................................................................................................................................... 82
Sensory Writing: .......................................................................................................................................................... 84
Prepositional Poetry: .................................................................................................................................................. 85
Show, don’t Tell: ......................................................................................................................................................... 87
Building Character Profiles.......................................................................................................................................... 88
Writing Conventions ....................................................................................................................................................... 90
Grammar: .................................................................................................................................................................... 90
Editing: ........................................................................................................................................................................ 90
Vocabulary: ................................................................................................................................................................. 90
Project Writing ................................................................................................................................................................ 91
Spelling & Handwriting ................................................................................................................................................... 93
Drawing for Writing ........................................................................................................................................................ 95
Simple Planning Techniques ........................................................................................................................................... 96
Final Note ...................................................................................................................................................................... 105
Teacher Notes: .............................................................................................................................................................. 106
References .................................................................................................................................................................... 107
Appendix - Persuasive Writing ...................................................................................................................................... 109
The Opinion Sentence: .............................................................................................................................................. 109
The Opinion Paragraph: ............................................................................................................................................ 110
The Persuasive Paragraph: ........................................................................................................................................ 112
The Opening Paragraph: ........................................................................................................................................... 114
The Conclusion: ......................................................................................................................................................... 114
Persuasive Devices: ................................................................................................................................................... 116
Teacher Notes: .............................................................................................................................................................. 118

Every study of young writers I’ve done for the last twenty
years has underestimated what they can do. In fact, we know
very little about the human potential for writing.
Donald Graves, (1994)

5
Simple Strategies: writing that works

‘Children want to write…’


When Donald Graves visited Australia in 1980, he started his lecture to teachers with this statement: ‘Children want
to write.’. These words are as true today as they were when first spoken. Children are natural story tellers; they love
attention as they recount events that occur throughout their daily lives. Children also have vivid imaginations as
much of their play occurs through fantasy and make-believe. An innate desire to tell stories combined with an active
and creative mind means children are ready-made writers. The challenge is enabling them to be able to express
themselves through written language.

Much of the research into teaching children to write focuses on the importance of children being knowledgeable
about the content they are composing –children need to be the experts so that they can communicate in a
constructive and meaningful way. Writing is an easier task when the author has an extensive knowledge about the
topic. When children come to school, they have limited or select knowledge of informational and expository writing
topics. This makes it difficult for them to fluently write across a range of genres. However, children come to school
with an array of life events, experiences, and hopefully stories through the medium of books, movies and television
programs. This prior knowledge means that imaginary texts are the type of writing with which they are most
familiar. With this background information, imaginary writing is the easiest form of writing for students to become
fluent. They can draw on previous experiences to create their writing and rely on their imaginations to bring them to
life. Within the framework of learning about imaginary writing, children can learn many language features,
techniques and discover their own distinct voice that will have many benefits for other forms of writing as they
progress through their schooling. Teaching writing within a context of understanding and familiarity enables children
to enjoy writing and share their stories. As children become more confident in their ability and comfortable with
exploring language, they are able to develop and find their unique voice; an experience that is both satisfying and
empowering.

As stated, information and expository texts are knowledge-based genres and they require life-experience to be
efficiently and effectively written. This is not to say that the early years of writing should be void of these writing
tasks. Opportunities to learn about and expose children to various forms of writing should be prepared and taught,
but the main focus should be on developing their ability to write and understand language, and this is easiest in the
context of imaginary writing. The knowledge children gain about grammatical features, structures and their effects
will greatly enhance their other forms of writing. Informational and expository writing should be catered for in the
context of content learning. Science, History and Geography are inquiry-based subjects where children have the
opportunity to learn how to research and build their knowledge. This knowledge should always be transferred into
writing to assist with the learning of content and building skills to write these genres.

Writing is an art form. At its essence is creativity, but much the same as a painter needs to understand colour, form,
line, shape and texture; children need to understand the structures and mechanics to become effective writers.
Writing needs to be presented in a scaffolded environment that assists children to understand their tools. Scaffolds
and templates are used as training wheels to support early development, and when ready, the safety of these
devices can be removed to allow children to become independent writers. If we compare learning to write with
another artistic endeavour such as learning a musical instrument, there is a stark contrast on how the two skills are
taught. How often are children given a blank sheet, perhaps with a scenario, and asked to create. The children may
have been shown an example of a story written by someone else and some features to focus on were discussed.
Sadly though, they are left to their own devices to use the sounds and words they know, to create sentences and
construct paragraphs for an original composition that will please their reader. Now, imagine handing a student an
instrument - presume that they already know how to play different notes and, using the notes and chords they
know, they are to construct an original composition that will be judged by the listener. The fact is that music,
although creative, is not taught this way. It is taught within a structure that allows learners to build their knowledge
of notes, rhythm, beats and chords. We need to take a similar approach when teaching writing. We need to ensure
children understand how to turn words and ideas into sentences and those sentences into paragraphs to create
6
Simple Strategies: writing that works

writing. This requires a systematic, scaffolded approach within a supportive environment. Giving children paper and
expecting them to write is neither fair nor realistic unless you are providing them with the tools they need to
transfer their ideas into written work.

This is an open-ended resource & teacher discretion is required to determine how it is used in classroom
environments. It is not a direct step-by-step approach to teaching, but a flexible resource that should be used to
create writing opportunities for students to foster improvement. While some aspects have a logical order, the focus
is to provide natural opportunities to enhance understanding and learning. This is not a writing curriculum; it is
designed to support teacher programming and make teaching easier and simplistic.

Schools may be collegial but classrooms are individual. The classroom is where a teacher takes into consideration
their students and evaluates their teaching style to create the best environment for learning to take place. This
resource is not designed to tell teachers how to set-up, organise and run their classroom; its purpose is to share
knowledge gained on effective, yet simple, writing instruction so that children and teachers can benefit. It is up to
individual teachers to assess how these tools will work best in the classroom. It will provide ideas and suggestions
that have worked in classroom settings, but they may not be suitable to all environments. This resource is a tool, and
craftsmen use their tools to create their masterpieces. Learn how to use this tool effectively in your classroom to
transform student writing, but more importantly increase their enjoyment and engagement when writing.

7
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Background
The purpose of this book is to provide teachers and parents with a range of resources that will not only encourage
children to write independently, but also develop their fundamental writing skills and improve their knowledge of
text construction. Hopefully, the scaffolding, themes and topics provided in this resource will help children develop
an enjoyment of and passion for writing which, in turn, will have a profound impact on their approach to reading.
This book is a ‘treasure chest’ of resources that will meet a variety of educational writing needs.

Teaching writing is no easy task and no doubt one that a lot of educators find challenging. Writing in itself is complex
as it draws on many different skills all at the same time - grammar, syntax, spelling, construction, voice, handwriting,
comprehension & content. It’s a balance between mechanics and creativity. This is why so many children struggle
when it comes to writing. When beginning teachers first emerge from university, they are faced with the daunting
responsibility to teach the students in their class how to write. While Early Career Teachers know how to write,
understanding how to effectively communicate this knowledge to students at varying stages with differentiated
needs is no easy feat. This leads to the question – How can I provide meaningful writing instruction to my students?

As a beginning teacher, addressing this question was a constant battle. When attempting to find or create learning
tasks that not only gave my students a chance to write but to acquire new skills, I encountered further challenges.
Initially there was a lot of chopping and changing as I searched for a format that worked for my teaching style and
suited the needs of my students. Eventually, I found a method I refer to as ‘the read, think, draw, write approach’.
This approach to writing places the majority of the focus on the prewriting phase of the writing process. It links the
importance of building knowledge through reading and thinking while using drawing to organise ideas and thoughts.
I believed I had found tasks that actively engaged my students in writing and started to improve their compositions.
By giving my students sufficient time to plan, draw and think in detail prior to writing, there was a tangible
improvement in the quantity my children were writing. And for a moment, I felt like I was succeeding as a teacher of
writing; I was caught up in ease of producing writing and quantity. I felt because my students were no longer stuck
for ideas that they were achieving. However, overtime I started to become frustrated as I felt the quality of the work
being produced wasn’t at the standard I expected from my students – basic sentences, missing punctuation and
careless spelling. I hadn’t even begun to imagine ways to improve plot or argument development. My students were
writing quantity but not quality, and I had to go back to the drawing board to work out how to make a difference.

For independent and creative writing, I discovered that my students didn’t just need time…they needed a scaffold; a
systematic approach to brainstorming and planning in the prewriting phase. Unable to find writing activities that met
the needs of my students, I designed my first ‘fluency’ writing task. I found that this scaffolding and presentation of
ideas enabled students to achieve the purpose of writing. After seeing the success my students had with this format,
I felt that I needed to share it so that parents could help their children produce writing, through the use of journals,
at home.

And so, ‘The Writing Treasure Chest’ was born; resources became available online and were being sold globally in
Australia, UK, South Africa and New Zealand. Creating quality writing resources grew from a hobby into a passion.
Slowly the aim and the focus of the resources evolved. The initial resources were aimed at getting children to write –
giving them a scaffold to get their ideas out on paper. Through this process needs arose to improve writing content.
New resources were created to encourage children to explore writing and become creative with their expression.
This is where compartmentalising learning about writing started to occur. The Simple Strategies: writing that works
resource breaks writing skills up into sections and then brings those individual skills back together to enhance
writing. This resource follows the belief: “We need children producing writing to improve the quality of their writing.”
As teachers, we need to give children the ability to write fluently; once children are capable of and confident in their
ability to get ideas on paper, we can then give them the tools to improve the quality of their writing.

Simple Strategies: writing that works encourages a balance between fluency, structure and creativity. By mixing
these skills together, confident capable writers evolve.
8
Simple Strategies: writing that works

I hope that teachers and parents find this resource helpful and it becomes a useful tool in classrooms and
households worldwide. The Writing Treasure Chest prides itself on inspiring children to write. Once they begin
writing and develop a passion for it, there is no stopping their progress.

“Writing is an exploration. You start with nothing and


learn as you go.”
E.L. Doctorow

9
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Rationale
Writing is essential to learning. In the formative years of schooling, children learn how to read and write. As they
progress through school, this changes to reading and writing to enable them to expand knowledge and learn new
concepts. These fundamental skills are required for children to enhance their understanding of topics studied at
school or to pursue topics that capture their interest. Therefore, to adequately participate in learning and develop
life-long learning skills, children must be able to read and write to a satisfactory level. However, a common trend has
emerged where a disturbingly high number of Australian school children are failing to meet a minimal acceptable
standard in literacy (Masters & Foster, 1997). Following on from these trends, a range of research has continued to
be conducted to determine the cause of this decline and the strategies required to improve literacy learning
amongst school-aged children.

Through professional reading, research conversations and observations a common theme emerges: not enough time
is spent on writing in the primary classroom. Peha (2018) states that writing needs to be practiced on a consistent
basis in order to be effective; to make good progress at an elementary level, beginning writers need to be writing
four to five days a week for 45-60 minutes each day. The current lack of time dedicated to writing instruction is
resulting in minimal progress being made between the early years of learning and the entry into secondary
education. This has a negative impact on children being able to successfully access the high school curriculum as they
struggle to write at the expected standard. The consistency of writing everyday helps create writers who are in a
constant state of composition (Graves, 1994). If children are to succeed, they need to be ready, willing and able
writers.

In 2007, concerned with the decline in writing ability, the Carnegie Corporation of New York undertook a study of
effective strategies to improve the standard of writing in schools. Using meta-analysis and effect sizes the study
recommended eleven elements of effective writing instruction.

1. Writing Strategies, which involves teaching students strategies for planning, revising, and editing their
compositions (ES = 0.82)
2. Summarisation, which involves explicitly and systematically teaching students how to summarise texts
(ES = 0.82)
3. Collaborative Writing, which uses instructional arrangements in which adolescents work together to plan,
draft, revise, and edit their compositions (ES =0.75)
4. Specific Product Goals, which assigns students specific, reachable goals for the writing they are to complete
(ES =0.70)
5. Word Processing, which uses computers and word processors as instructional supports for writing
assignments (ES =0.55)
6. Sentence Combining, which involves teaching students to construct more complex, sophisticated sentences
(ES =0.50)
7. Prewriting, which engages students in activities designed to help them generate or organise ideas for their
composition (ES =0.32)
8. Inquiry Activities, which engages students in analysing immediate, concrete data to help them develop ideas
and content for a particular writing task (ES =0.32)
9. Process Writing Approach, which interweaves a number of writing instructional activities in a workshop
environment that stresses extended writing opportunities, writing for authentic audiences, personalised
instruction, and cycles of writing (ES =0.32)
10. Study of Models, which provides students with opportunities to read, analyse, and emulate models of good
writing (ES =0.25)
11. Writing for Content Learning, which uses writing as a tool for learning content material (ES =0.23)

10
Simple Strategies: writing that works

From Writing Next:


Effective Strategies to Improve Writing of Adolescents in Middle and High Schools. A Report to Carnegie Corporation
of New York (by Steve Graham and Dolores Perin, 2007).
http://carnegie.org/fileadmin/Media/Publications/PDF/writingnext.pdf

With these elements in mind, Simple Strategies: writing that works was created and sculpted to fit the needs of
primary age students to enhance their ability to write effectively.

Instruction of writing involves the explicit teaching of techniques to assist children with planning, composing,
revising and editing. When students are taught strategies for planning, revising and editing writing there is a
dramatic effect on the quality of students’ writing (Graham & Perin, 2007). Strategy instruction involves explicitly
and systematically teaching steps necessary for planning, revising and/or editing text. (Graham, 2006). Simple
Strategies: writing that works undertakes a systematic approach to teach writing. There is a clear level of
progression, starting from the simple two word sentence all the way to the story writing level expected of children. It
incorporates the parts of speech that make up sentences and then aims to combine this knowledge with planning
tools to create a map to writing success. Editing and revising skills are built into all tasks and students are expected
to follow the guidelines that ensure each piece of writing is reviewed by the composer. Systematic editing
techniques have been found to be especially effective for children who have difficulty writing, but also a powerful
technique for children in general (Graham & Perin, 2007).

Summarising helps children understand the main ideas and the details that support them within a text. The main
idea is the heart of the story – it keeps the reader engaged – while the details are the skeleton that offers strong
support for the main idea. Teaching children how to summarise texts has a consistent, strong, positive effect on their
ability to write (Graham & Perin, 2007). The reading component of Simple Strategies: writing that works encourages
the writing of summaries through the use of the reading journal. Children are taught various frameworks to help
them deconstruct texts so they can accurately summarise what they have read. These techniques are linked to the
planning for writing activities as tools. This enables children to learn how to deconstruct and construct texts using
similar methods. Summaries are the bare bones of the story; in a way, summarising is reverse planning – it shows
children how a simple idea can be expanded into a meaningful story.

Collaborative writing involves children working together during the planning, drafting revising and editing phases of
writing; it shows a strong impact on improving the quality of students’ writing (Graham & Perin, 2007). The power of
peers should never be underestimated and a writing classroom centred on building knowledge creates a buzz. It
teaches students that they do not have to do it all alone and inspiration can be gained from all around their learning
environment. Working collaboratively on writing builds a sense of community where children learn from each other
– where they celebrate each other’s success and learn from feedback. Vygotsky (1978): learning is a social process,
so classrooms must be social places. Independent knowledge and actions can be increased significantly through peer
interaction and strong teacher modelling & support. Simple Strategies: writing that works encourages
collaboration, especially during the building knowledge phase of writing. Children and teachers work together when
brainstorming and planning to expose children to a wide range of ideas, strategies and vocabulary that can be
implemented in their own writing. Collaborative sharing and feedback allows children to see how others use
language and learn from each other.

Writing tasks cannot be meaningless time-fillers. Children need to know what they are learning and which aspects to
focus their attention. The complexity of writing makes perfection unattainable but children can focus on nailing a
particular aspect to improve their writing and make progress. Setting specific product goals provides students with
objectives to focus on particular aspects of their writing (Ferretti, MacArthur, & Dowdy, 2000). Product goals are
effective with children who are weaker writers and overall, assigning students goals for their written product has a
strong impact of writing quality (Graham & Perin, 2007). Simple Strategies: writing that works has its own specific
goal structure to enhance the fundamentals of writing. Having students focus on one clear goal during writing tasks
ensures that they can focus on achievement. Further to this goal, the learning intentions of each task are quite

11
Simple Strategies: writing that works

specific. Children are constantly building on prior knowledge and achievement to improve their writing using new or
varied strategies and structures. This simple goal framework helps children understand where they are heading.

Combining sentences is a skill that exposes children to complex sentences which enables the creation of
sophisticated compositions. Sentence combining teaches children how to write increasingly complex sentences
which enhances the quality of their writing (Graham & Perin, 2007). Simple Strategies: writing that works provides
students with multiple opportunities to use sentence combining. Using basic sentence writing tasks, children are
able to explore new skills; through the use of prepositions, subordinate conjunctions and sophisticated punctuation,
children can be taught how to create and apply complex sentences to their writing. As well as this, ‘writing
convention’ tasks explicitly teach how to join similar subjects together to create complex sentences and build
description.

Prewriting engages students in activities designed to help them generate ideas for their writing. Engaging children in
such activities prior to writing improves the quality of their writing (Graham & Perin, 2007). Simple Strategies:
writing that works and ‘The Writing Treasure Chest’ were developed on the back of the importance of prewriting.
The majority of writing tasks provided throughout this resource focus on the importance of prewriting to elicit
quality written responses from children. Scaffolded brainstorming formats, carefully designed questions and a wide
variety of story mapping strategies combined with planning organisers ensure that children are adequately prepared
for writing. Children know the main elements of their story prior to the commencement of tasks and therefore, are
able to focus on the fluency, accuracy and creativity in their writing. The importance of thinking and exploring prior
to writing is the essence of this resource.

Inquiry activities are embedded in the ‘Exploring Writing’ component of this resource. Without effective inquiry skills
and knowledge of how to explore content, children are unable to develop the knowledge to write detailed
compositions. Hillocks (1982) describes inquiry activities as students examining and inferring qualities in order to
describe them in writing with the intention on increasing specificity, focus and impact in the writing. ‘Exploring
Writing’ encourages deep focus and examination of the environment so that writers can have a profound impact on
their readers. Prewriting tasks focus on closely analysing and examining so that children can elicit details and facts to
include in their writing. Children need to be experts on their chosen topic; they need to understand where they are
and where they are headed with their writing.

In short, process writing focuses on the steps involved in creating a piece of written work (Nunan, 2001). It allows for
the fact that no text can be perfect, but that a writer will get closer to perfection by producing, reflecting on and
reworking their writing (Nunan, 1991). Simple Strategies: writing that works encourages the staples of process
writing over product writing. Its focus is on developing writers and considers each piece of writing a step on the
learning journey. Children are continually asked to review and reflect on their writing and by providing constant
effective teacher feedback, their writing continues to evolve. Focusing on what children say in their writing will see a
greater improvement rather than focusing on language errors (White & Arntd, 1991). The discussion of the work is
important; corrections written over the top post writing appear to do little to improve student writing (Stanley,
2004). The focus of Simple Strategies: writing that works is to encourage children to write with no fear or criticism.
Post-writing feedback is given and lesson adjustments or goal refinements made to enhance learning outcomes and
writing success.

Providing children with literature rich texts should always be the aim of every literacy lesson. While levelled readers
may assist with oral reading development, most add little value to the thinking, analysing and deep comprehension
we want learners to elicit from texts. Exposing students to good models of writing encourages them to analyse and
emulate the critical elements and patterns in these texts as well as study the literary forms embedded in them for
use in their own writing (Graham & Perin, 2007). The reading component of Simple Strategies: writing that works
encourages students to critically engage in texts through the use of reading journals. It encourages summarising
skills as well as deep analytical thinking and questions to enhance understanding of the text. A shared reading
format opens the gateway to rich discussion about text patterns, story elements and writing techniques. Students
are not only exposed to this information but are able to take it forth into their own writing.
12
Simple Strategies: writing that works

There is constant debate over the importance regarding the instruction of grammar in the primary classroom;
traditional grammar versus functional grammar versus minimal grammar instruction. Research indicates that
children who understand how to use parts of speech in context are able to create effective writing. Teaching
students to focus on the function and practical application of grammar in the context of writing as opposed to
teaching grammar as an independent, isolated activity produced strong positive effects on student writing (Fearn &
Farnan, 2005). Simple Strategies: writing that works encourages the exploration and teaching of grammatical
features in a contextual environment. The success of the writing component comes from the students’ ability to
apply certain aspects of grammar to ensure syntax and create complex sentences. The teaching of grammar within
the framework of student writing enhances their practical understanding and is the difference between writing
purely content and learning to improve writing. Furthermore, it allows rich discussion between student and teacher
during feedback.

The importance of a structured writing program cannot be undersold. At times, writing appears to receive minimal
attention in some primary classrooms. The curriculum is so broad, and the school day is so short, many teachers feel
they do not have time for authentic writing instruction (Peha, 2018). Reading is the star of literacy and continually
takes centre stage with large portions of the learning day credited to reading. Following this the
decompartmentalisation of writing into sub strands such as spelling and grammar eat up valuable time. This results
in minimal time spent on writing instruction which means minimal improvement in the writing content of students.
Peha (2018) reinforces this notion when he observed that the little time and limited instruction offered to writing is
devoted almost exclusively to handwriting, punctuation, spelling and grammar with scant attention paid to
instruction. Writing is left for a half hour window here and there throughout the week – most students only spend
about twenty minutes each day on writing (Graham & Hebert, 2010). The fact is that reading and writing work best
as a duet and should be sharing the stage in the daily classroom literacy block. Writing has the potential to enhance
reading in three ways: they are both functional activities that can be combined to accomplish specific goals
(Fitzgerald & Shanahan, 2000), reading and writing are connected as they draw upon common knowledge and
cognitive processes (Shanahan, 2006), and writers gain insight about reading by creating their own texts leading to
better comprehension of texts produced by others (Tierney & Shanahan, 1991). The importance of writing is being
overlooked and Simple Strategies: writing that works is providing opportunities to improve overall student literacy
results.

In 2010, a report was compiled for the Carnegie Corporation of New York effectively looking at writing practices that
enhance student reading. The report suggested three recommendations, once again based on meta-analysis and
effect size, on how writing can have a positive impact and enhance student reading ability:

1. Have students write about the texts they read. (ES =0.51) Students’ comprehension of science, social
studies, and language arts texts is improved when they write about what they read, specifically when they:

• Respond to a Text in Writing (Personal Reactions, Analysing and Interpreting the Text) (ES =0.77)
• Write Summaries of a Text (ES =0.52)
• Write Notes About a Text (ES =0.47)
• Answer Questions About a Text, or Create and Answer Written Questions About a Text (ES =0.27)

2. Teach students the writing skills and processes that go into creating text. Students’ reading skills and
comprehension are improved by learning the skills and processes that go into creating text, specifically when
teachers:

• Teach the Process of Writing, Text Structures for Writing, Paragraph or Sentence Construction
Skills (Improves Reading Comprehension) (ES =0.27)
• Teach Spelling and Sentence Construction Skills (Improves Reading Fluency) (ES =0.79)
• Teach Spelling Skills (Improves Word Reading Skills) (ES =0.68)

13
Simple Strategies: writing that works

3. Increase how much students write. (ES =0.30) Students’ reading comprehension is improved by having them
increase how often they produce their own texts.
From Writing to Read:
Evidence for How Writing Can Improve Reading. A Report to Carnegie Corporation of New York (By Steve Graham
and Michael Hebert, 2010).
http://carnegie.org/fileadmin/Media/Publications/WritingToRead_01.pdf

From the evidence outlined in the report, it is clear that writing can be a vehicle for improving reading (Graham &
Hebert, 2010). Simple Strategies: writing that works assists reading development through the use of its carefully
designed writing resources and its focus on summarising and exploring texts read.

Writing about a text enhances comprehension because it provides students with a tool for visibly and permanently
recording, connecting, analysing, personalising and manipulating key ideas in text (Graham & Hebert, 2010). The
reading journal activities provided in the Simple Strategies: writing that works resource provide students with
ample opportunities to summarise and connect with the text. This reading, analysing and exploring of the text
provides benefits for student writing; furthermore, the use of the personal reading journal, where thoughts are
permanently recorded and thinking is encouraged through scaffolds, helps develop deeper thinkers and a richer
understanding of comprehension. When students write about ideas in a text, it requires them to organise and
integrate those ideas into a coherent piece, facilitates reflection, encourages personal involvement with texts and
helps children transform ideas into their own words (Klein, 1999).

Educators have long believed that the benefits of writing instruction carry over to improved reading (Graham &
Hebert, 2010). Simple Strategies: writing that works focuses on writing instruction; this resource’s aim is to teach
processes for understanding the development of plots as well as learning how to construct and manipulate sentence
structure. This understanding of the processes involved in writing and how to effectively use them, creates capable
writers and gives them valuable insight into the writing work of others. Therefore, reading and comprehending
become easier tasks due to the knowledge writers bring about the forms of text composition.

Reading and writing are communication activities, and writers can gain insights about reading by creating a text for
an audience to read (Nelson & Calfee, 1998). According to research, increasing how much students write does in fact
improve how well they read (Graham & Hebert, 2010). Simple Strategies: writing that works is an advocate for an
increase in writing opportunities for students on a daily basis. The number and variety of activities that are provided
as writing tasks in this resource ensures that students are actively involved in regular writing practice. Any increase
in the amount of writing time offered to students will have a positive impact on their reading and comprehension
ability. This is supported by Weber & Henderson (1989) who state that more writing instruction produced greater
reading gains than less writing instruction.

Simple Strategies: writing that works is a well-rounded teaching resource that belongs as a part of literary efficient
classrooms. Its high impact to improve writing cannot be dismissed with its ability to incorporate a range of elements
that enhance student writing. It is also important to remember that writing is often recommended as a tool for
improving reading (Graham & Hebert, 2010). Simple Strategies: writing that works incorporates a range of
instructional methods that provide opportunities for student development; process writing is embedded in the DNA
of the resource, yet it lends itself to specific skill instruction in the context of student writing. This diversity has an
impact on overall literacy as writing instruction that strengthens students’ reading skills includes both process
writing and skill instruction (Graham & Hebert, 2010).

At the moment, educational settings are not always meeting the writing needs for all students for a variety of
reasons. The tedious nature and complexity of writing makes it a challenge to teach and learn in a crowded
curriculum. However, intensive writing has been identified as a critical element of an effective literacy program
(Biancarosa & Snow, 2004). Therefore, Simple Strategies: writing that works provides the perfect opportunity to
improve student writing while at the same time enhancing aspects of reading. The Simple Strategies: writing that
works resource plays a part in creating an effective and efficient literacy-based classroom.

14
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Effective Writing Practice


Writing is a different experience for all. Teachers have varying methods to assist children with their writing
development and each child responds to learning at their own rate and in their own way. Zemelman, Daniels & Hyde
(2012) detail these 15 powerful practices as effective methods, proven by research, to improve all student writing:

1. All students can and should write.


- The more students write the more proficient they become.
2. Help students find real purposes to write and real audiences to reach.
- Purpose and audience give writing direction and meaning.
3. Help students exercise choice, take ownership, and assume responsibility.
- The more decisions a teacher makes, the less students learn about writing.
4. Provide opportunities for students to experience the complete writing process.
- Step, by step exposure to the entire writing process breaks writing up and creates independence.
5. Help students get started.
- Develop prewriting techniques that allow students to open their minds and dive into writing.
6. Guide students as they draft and revise.
- Don’t tell students, model for students to create life-long learning and understanding.
7. Model for kids how you write a text.
- Write for students, and think aloud, to show the thinking processes behind reading.
8. Lead students to learn the craft of writing.
- Demonstrate the elements that good writers use and provide opportunities for them to be
implemented.
9. Confer with individual students on their writing.
- 1:1 discussion allows time to differentiate, provide feedback and to set new goals.
10. Teach grammar and the mechanics in the context of actual writing.
- Avoid only using isolated skill and drill grammar tasks – teach grammar in the context of own writing.
11. Provide a classroom context of shared learning.
- Create a collaborative environment where all contributions are valued and risks are encouraged.
12. Support growth in writing for English learners.
- Carefully and deliberately encourage the use of language to express thoughts.
13. Use writing to support learning throughout the curriculum.
- Cross-curriculum writing, exposes new genres and create constant opportunities to write.
14. Use evaluation constructively and efficiently.
- Put the pen away, do not correct; use praise and questioning to create growth in writing.
15. Expose kids to a wide array of great fiction and nonfiction writing.
- Read a range of books with children of all ages to unlock the secrets of writing from within the text.

When writing curriculums are constructed with these practices in mind, there is significant growth in the
development and enjoyment of writing in the classroom. Hopefully, this guide to writing strategies will provide an
opportunity for parents & teachers to ensure these practices become embedded within classrooms.

15
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Methodology
As alluded to earlier, the facilitation of writing is a complex task for teachers to undertake. The secret to successful
writing in the literacy classroom and across the curriculum comes down to the teacher’s understanding of and
passion for writing. Over the years there have been many trends and theories on the most effective way to teach
writing. There is no one method that works for all. Teachers must explore and find the methods that work best for
the students in their classroom.

Simple Strategies: writing that works focuses on teaching writing skills in the context of student text construction. It
builds composition from the sentence level to the text level. With careful planning and instructions, a detailed,
creative and elaborative text can be formed through the development of students’ word level knowledge,
understanding of how to manipulate the form of the sentence, and a structured approach to planning a cohesive
text. Understanding how to provide opportunities to learn each skill and combine them is the key to unlocking
powerful writing from within the classroom.

An analogy that is often used, is to compare writing to building a house. If you apply the Simple Strategies: writing
that works methodology to this analogy, you begin to see a clear picture of how this step by step process works
towards the end product.

House to Home = Theme

Roof Editing/Revising

Facade Words (Vocabulary)

Brickwork Sentences

Framework Text Structure

Foundations Planning

Planning is the foundations of writing success. It is the groundwork that supports the text. In a house, the
foundations are buried underground or beneath the house; they are not seen with the finished product. However, if
you take the foundations away the house will collapse; likewise, a piece of writing without planning is likely to
tumble.

The framework supports and shapes the house; just like the structure of the texts creates the direction that the
writing will undertake. Text structure is designed to support the writer as they make their way through the writing
process. It enables them to see if they are on track and their writing is taking the shape required to meet its purpose
and audience. The framework provides the guidance and supports the remainder of the construction.

The brickwork is the strength of the house; it’s what holds the house together and ensures the quality of the
construction. Sentences are the key to writing. Having a deep understanding of how to use and manipulate
sentences to achieve a purpose is the key to writing success. Sentences hold the writing together by making meaning
and engaging the audience. Without strong sentences, the writing can be blown over with a puff of wind.

The facade is the finishing external touches on the outside of the house. The façade is essentially the dressing up and
presentation of the house. Word choice and effective vocabulary or figurative devices add to the dressing up of
writing. Understanding and expanding word knowledge plays a significant role between having a solid, rigid text or
creating a lavish, expensive and engaging piece of writing.

16
Simple Strategies: writing that works

The roof provides the house with protection from the external elements; elements that can be harsh and
devastating. If we want to protect our writing and shield it from outside elements, then writing needs to be revised
and edited to ensure that it is ready to be viewed and presented to an audience in its strongest form.

A house is just an empty building, but a home is a place of warmth, joy and comfort. A house becomes a home when
it is filled with love on the inside. The theme or message of a piece of writing is what turns a house into a home or in
this case, from an ordinary text to one that impacts its audience.

Simple Strategies: writing that works purpose is to provide a way for students to develop the different elements of
text construction and then be able to combine them to create a complete piece of writing.

17
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Student Development
Below is the development of a 7-year-old girl as she progresses through the Simple Strategies: writing that works
content. These samples are taken from weekly 5-minute ‘fluency´ tasks where she applies the knowledge gained
through the different learning streams. She begins as a conventional writer but develops sophistication and colour
that brings aspects of her writing to life. She begins with a fundamental understanding of writing principles; by
having prior knowledge regarding writing conventions, it allows her to manipulate language easier and become
creative in her compositions.

February: “One day I went on a treasure hunt with my family very early in the morning. We were excited. First we
packed everything we needed. We brought a metal detector and a compass along with us.”

At the start of the year, she demonstrates her ability to write simple sentences and add details to enhance her
writing. She shows a clear beginning and understanding of sequencing through use of connectives. There is also use
of paragraphing as events change.

June: “Nearby there stands an old rugged village. There is a small cabin with vines covering the burnt wood from the
bush fire that had happened recently. In that cabin lives a forgotten princess. She wears old rags for clothes; she has
a cloth tied around her head. The only thing that had noticed her throughout the years was her small pet mouse
squeakers. She is kind and loyal to her”

In four months, there is an increased maturity about her writing. Her introduction paints a more detailed image that
engages the reader. There is variation in her sentence beginnings with the use of prepositions. She is beginning to
explore compound sentences and uses sophisticated punctuation to join sentences. There is an improvement in
vocabulary usage.

18
Simple Strategies: writing that works

October: “Amid the monstrous forest, two bold yellow eyes glimmer in the blackness. Dark scrub rustles as owls
wait…watch…hunt in the night. The owl spots a mouse; it swoops down to get the mouse but it scurries away. The
owl swoops back up to the branch; its big bold eyes glimmer in the darkness.”

A further four months along and she continues to build and play with language as her constructions create audience
engagement. She paints images with contrasting details; powerful verbs emerge on a more consistent basis and
complex sentences begin to be used. Sensory writing and the use of showing rather than telling are explored; these
introduce the elements of sight and sound which engages the reader. Ellipses and semi-colons are used to create
effects. Precise vocabulary is built into her writing and similes start to be used. Her verbs are used to elicit feelings
from the audience. Her clear, unique writing voice is beginning to emerge.

November: “In a cottage


surrounded by tangled vines a
small girl cowers in the corner
frightened. Her parents wanted
her to search for food for supper.
She didn’t even see one crumb of
blueberry pie. Her stomach was
rumbling like thunder. She felt
upset.”

November: “Once some friends went


to have a delicious picnic by an
enchanted lake. Flowers bloomed as
butterflies fluttered; it was beautiful.
They sat amongst two colourful trees.
A trail of flowers led to a path next to a
little cottage. The friends knocked
once...BANG! Bang! The door slowly
crept open. They found a little puppy
lurking in the corner. They named it
Wags. Now they have a new friend.”

19
Simple Strategies: writing that works

When these final two pieces are compared to her original writing sample it is clear to see the progress in her writing.
She has evolved from a mechanical writer into a creative writer; she understands writing and brings originality to her
compositions. Her writing includes:

• Literary techniques – similes, onomatopoeia and alliteration


• Strong verbs that resonate with the audience
• Complex sentences
• Controlled use of punctuation for impact
• Descriptive writing that allows the plots to keep moving forward
• Themes evolve
• Allows readers to connect with characters
• Personal voice is clear
• Precise vocabulary

The Simple Strategies: writing that works resource aims to improve writing content. It balances storytelling and
description with the aim of creating well-rounded writers. After creating writers that initially understand the
structures and conventions of writing, these simple strategies expose children to ways they can manipulate language
in a scaffolded environment through exploration, feedback and encouragement. As shown through the student
development over the course of a year, students that follow the program - with guided teaching reacting to student
needs - enhance their ability to use sophisticated punctuation, stronger vocabulary and create complex sentences
that are embedded with a range of literary devices.

20
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Programming for Writing Instruction


“If students are not engaged in writing at least four days out of five, and for a period of thirty-five to forty minutes,
beginning in the first grade, they will have little opportunity to learn to think through the medium of writing.”
(Graves, 1994)

It has already been established that all literacy programs should include an intensive focus on writing. However,
making room for writing can be a challenging task with a crowded curriculum filling the teaching day. Improvement
and results do not occur overnight. The success of the Simple Strategies: writing that works resource is based
around a writing program that is embedded within the literacy block. The longevity of elements that enhance writing
success combined with a teacher’s ability to identify student needs leads to student development. Sometimes
positive results are not seen immediately; implementing new elements of instruction often requires a significant
investment of time to reveal the full potential for student learning (Graham & Harris, 2005). Furthermore, it is
important to note that not all they write will be good (Graves, 1994). Teachers must provide multiple opportunities
to write, be supportive and encouraging, and offer effective feedback to help children on their journey.

Strategic and systematic timetabling of writing tasks needs to be planned. The actual writing tasks should not be
planned more than three weeks in advance as teachers will need to evaluate current student progress and plan
suitable tasks that will aid writing development. Taking into account prior knowledge and current level, teachers can
decide whether to push forward, hold or return to earlier concepts. The focus of the lesson should always be
determined by student performance and needs – not all children need to work on the same goals or learning
intentions.

Below is a rough outline of a beginning of the year timetable. Prior to any formal teaching, at least three writing
samples should be taken from students so that teachers can analyse where students are currently at and to monitor
progress throughout the year. At the start of the year, Fluency needs to be a major focus; children need to be writing
a suitable amount of content so that adjustments and learning can take place. As the year progresses, one or two
fluency tasks should be dropped from the timetable and an extra Developing or Exploring lesson can be taught.

Session Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5


Reading Reading Reading Reading Reading
(journal/discuss) (journal/discuss) (journal/discuss) (journal/discuss) (journal/discuss)
20-30 minutes 20-30 minutes 20-30 minutes 20-30 minutes 20-30 minutes
Morning
Fluency Conventions Fluency Fluency Fluency
10-15 minutes 10-15 minutes 10-15 minutes 10-15 minutes 10-15 minutes

Developing Developing Exploring Exploring


Middle 30 minutes 30 minutes 30 minutes 30 minutes

Project Writing Project Writing


Afternoon (cross-curricula) (cross-curricula)
30-40 minutes 30-40 minutes

21
Simple Strategies: writing that works

“When a teacher asks me, ‘I can only teach writing one day a week. What kind of program should I have?’ my
response is, ‘Don’t teach it at all. You will only encourage poor habits in your students and they will only learn to
dislike writing.’” (Graves, 1994)

This is only a suggested timetable outline and will vary from class to class. However, to enhance literacy, time needs
to be dedicated to an intensive writing program (Biancarosa & Snow, 2004). Children need lots of opportunities to
practice, and this practice needs to be accompanied by effective feedback. These Simple Strategies provide a
systematic approach that teachers can implement and learners can understand.

This is a rough outline of a writing program overview that focuses on implementing the Simple Strategies in this
resource:

Assessment* Tasks T1 & T4 Details Reg


Informative ~ Recount: My Holiday No teaching, present task. See what
Imaginative ~ Literary Recount: Shipwrecked students produce. Same/similar activities
Exploring ~ Sentences/Paragraph: Wooden T4 for comparison/analysis.
Cabin
* Expository and informative writing can be difficult to pre-test as they are knowledge-based writing methods. Familiar topics should be used to gauge current ability.

TERM 1
Tasks Link Outcomes Reg
Journal Personal Crest (persuasive) PD/H: Self Esteem
Project Platypus (informative) Science/Geography
Project Discovery of a Treasure Chest
(imaginary)

Week 1
Goal Focus: Fluency Editing Skill: Punctuation Markers
Type Tasks Focus Intentions Reg
Fluency increase fluency &
beach/dog/kite/chased
editing
Developing learn features of a
The Sentence 1 Sense & Sentence Boundaries
sentence
Fluency increase fluency &
Treasure
editing
Fluency increase fluency &
explorer/ancient ruins/discovers a secret trapdoor
editing
Developing learn features of a
The Sentence 2 Sense & Sentence Boundaries
sentence
Fluency increase fluency &
Free Choice
editing
Exploring brainstorming -
The Cottage Explore Picture
prewriting

Ideally, planning for writing instruction is reactive to the needs of the students within the class. Writing goals and
areas to focus on should be developed in response to student progress. Writing programs should be working
documents, always evolving.

22
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Planning with Learning Intentions & Success Criteria


Simple Strategies: writing that works uses simple progressions to build the foundations of writing success. When
this writing is broken down at each level, it is possible to create an environment of assessment capable learners.
Using Learning Intentions and Success Criteria, differentiation is capable which gives students a clear path and goal
structure to improve their writing.

Level 1: - The Sentence


LI: To write fluent descriptive sentences.
SC: Sentence makes sense
Write what comes to mind (use personal experience)
Punctuation & spelling checked
Use a follow-on sentence

Level 2: - The Recount Story


LI: To fluently retell a story or event.
SC: Draw on personal experience
Make sure the content is literary
There is a logical sequence on place
Punctuation & spelling checked

Level 3: - The Story Outline


LI: To fluently write a story with elements of a story-telling.
SC: Describe characters and setting
Problem
Solution
Punctuation & spelling checked

23
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Level 4: - Once Upon a Time


LI: To develop understanding of story writing concepts.
SC: Show character and setting development
Rise and fall of tension through ‘conflict’ and ‘resolution’
Punctuation & spelling checked

Level 5: - Descriptive Paragraph


LI: To combine the description of characters and settings with the action of events.
SC: Descriptive writing
Show, don’t Tell
Story development
Punctuation & spelling checked

Level 6: - Simple Stories


LI: To write a detailed and cohesive imaginary text.
SC: Describe characters and setting
Tension
A logical plot (series of events)
Punctuation & spelling checked

24
Simple Strategies: writing that works

An Overview
Simple Strategies: writing that works incorporates five streams of learning. The table below outlines the different
areas of learning that this resource encourages to be used simultaneously to maximise writing results. The best part
about this program is that it has a positive effect on comprehension and reading progress due to the time children
spend reviewing and thinking about their own texts as writers as well as those of accomplished authors.

Thinking
Reading Fluency Developing Writing Exploring Writing Writing Conventions
- Reading journal - Fluency writing tasks - The sentence - Microscope - Grammar
activities - Writing prompts - The recount story sentences
- Book reviews activity sheets - Sensory writing - Editing
- The story outline
- Book discussions - Writing prompt cards - Once upon a time… - Preposition poetry - Vocabulary
- Descriptive paragraph - Show, don’t Tell
- Simple Stories - Character Profiles

Project Writing

Reading

Reading is an important part of learning to write. To help students see a link between the two content areas,
teachers need to teach reading as a thinking activity. Children need to explore texts and discover the techniques that
authors and illustrators use; this is an essential step in building their knowledge of how texts work. With guidance,
students can then start to make meaning and apply their understanding to their own writing.

Fluency

Writing fluency is pivotal to writing success. Too often students get tied up and stuck trying to figure what to write.
Teachers need to give students the confidence to write and to write at a fluent pace so that time isn’t wasted
working out what to write. Fluency gives students an opportunity to put into practice what they have learnt.
Therefore, teachers can base their teaching on what students are producing.

Developing Writing

Developing writing is where students do the ground work on their writing. It’s where they learn to create stories by
following writing structures. It is the perfect time for teachers to workshop new ideas and concepts for students.
Through learning the structure of writing, students become more fluent. As they enhance their understanding of
story structure, they become more adept at understanding how they can creatively manipulate their writing to
achieve different purposes.

Exploring Writing

Exploring writing is the artistic and creative side of writing. It is used to soften the structure learnt while developing
writing and creates the description and detail required to enhance writing. It is during exploring writing activities
that students learn to take risks with their writing, improve their vocabulary and begin to use figurative language.
Further to this, children can learn how to build characters and the impact of plots and settings through focused
workshops in a risk-free and creative environment.

25
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Writing Conventions

Writing convention skill builders provide an opportunity for instructional teaching in the context of writing. Students
learn about parts of speech within writing in a way they can understand. This understanding allows children to enter
into rich conversations about their writing with their peers and teacher. The tasks provide opportunities for students
to enhance their editing skills with a focus on spelling and punctuation. Finally, it allows for the discovery and
exploration of vocabulary through joint brainstorming and collaboration.

26
Simple Strategies: writing that works

The Writing Lesson


To improve outcomes for reluctant writers, a structured routine is beneficial. Graves (1994) lists routine as one of six
conditions of an effective learning environment to enhance student writing. Below is a suggested outline for writing
activities:

Warm-up

Build
Revise/Edit
Knowledge
EFFECTIVE
FEEDBACK

Write Teach

The warm-up

Each writing lesson should begin with a brief dictation or fluency writing task as a warm-up. Warm-ups are not
compulsory nor suitable for every lesson but do serve a purpose to generate writing in the classroom. Dictation
should be short and no longer than 3 sentences. Dictation is a modelling tool for the expectation of writing. Dictation
sentences could be used by the teacher to discuss student learning intentions. Dictation allows children to focus on
the mechanical composition rather than compose original sentences; it assists spelling and is used to reinforce or
teach editing skills (Rippel, 2018). A short five-minute fluency writing task could also be used as a warm-up activity to
get the mind ready for the writing lesson that awaits. After the warm-up is completed, the child puts coloured
rectangles around their capital letters and coloured circles around their full stops. Using colour, they also underline
any possible spelling mistakes. This is referred to as proofreading so we can develop these monitoring expectations
into the child.

Build Knowledge

The building knowledge phase is about gathering information. Information should be read, drawn and labelled.
Children are encouraged to be thinking throughout this phase. Word walls, word storms and alphabet boxes can be
used to build-up appropriate vocabulary for their theme.

Where possible, brainstorming and planning should be done collaboratively. This could either be as a whole class or
in pairs. The more ideas the children are exposed to the better it will be for them when the time comes to write.

27
Simple Strategies: writing that works

For pre-writing planning, the children can be exposed to different planning methods. A combination of drawing and
writing through different graphic organisers is ideal to prepare children for writing by allowing them to develop their
plot and organise their ideas.

Teach

A specific focus for the lesson should be chosen. Teachers need to explicitly model the expected learning intention.
Teachers of writing must write and share their thought process with the children. Explicitly showing children how a
text is created or a skill is used in writing will enable children to understand what will make their work successful for
a particular lesson.

Write

A specific writing goal (or two) is chosen to be the focus of the writing task as well as a Simple Strategy to apply.
Children are then encouraged to write for 15-30 minutes uninterrupted to complete their task. Some children may
be able to sustain writing for a longer period of time.

Editing/Revising

Children then complete their proofreading (as from warm-up task) and underline any possible spelling mistakes.
Children also read to make sure that what they have written makes sense. (For more information on editing, see the
Editing & Feedback section of this guide – pages: 35-37.)

Feedback

It is essential that children are given feedback about their writing. After reviewing a student’s work, a small comment
can be made following a three-step process called the SAS method.

- a Strength
- an Area to improve Graves (1994) suggests the following methods to deliver feedback
- a Suggestion to students:

 Student to Teacher conferencing


 Peer to Peer conferencing
Give Feedback about:  Self-reflection
 planning  Sharing – with students questioning (Author’s Chair)
 organisation
 writing
 editing
 fluency
 message (make sense)
 spelling
 punctuation
 grammar
 handwriting
 detail/description
 vocabulary

28
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Outside of the Developing Writing and Exploring Writing activities, there are many other ways to enhance student
writing. Using these tips will help children improve their writing.

Model

Even if you don’t enjoy writing, you must do it; children need to see how teachers come up with and expand their
ideas. They need to see their teacher use the formats and struggle and wrestle with ideas to understand writing.
Teacher Talk – the teacher discussing their thought processes as they work – is essential. Talking through what you
are doing and explaining where your ideas are coming help children understand the logic behind the texts we create.
Revising as you write and making changes or using particular punctuation for impact should be brought to life.
Children viewing construction can be more effective and influential then deconstructing and analysing features of
prewritten professional texts.

Expectations

Having high-expectations of students is essential for writing success and improvement. Accepting mediocre or below
ability work should never happen. Using the explicit goal structure and clear, precise learning intentions encourage
children to aim higher.

Routine

A continuous and constant writing program or schedule is important. Children need many opportunities to improve
their writing. This will be more successful if there is familiarity around the process. If children are at ease with the
routine, structure and environment of the writing lesson, they will be able to focus on their ideas and manipulation
of language.

Exposure

Always look for opportunities to expose children to new parts of language. These opportunities may arise through
the reading of literature rich texts or in class sharing of work; it could even be exposure to a technique that you
accidently use in your modelled construction. Exposing children to punctuation and vocabulary writing devices in
well-written texts, encourages them to use the same techniques in their own writing. Never be afraid to discuss
literary techniques that arise through incidental reading.

Sharing

Effective sharing strategies are possibly the most efficient medium to improve writing. When sharing becomes
embedded in class procedures, children are given an audience to direct their writing. Their writing is no longer a
meaningless piece of work hidden in a book, but a form of communication that will be shared with their peers.
Sharing writing has an immeasurable impact on a student’s willingness and desire to improve.

Teach from Student Samples

Use samples from within the classroom to teach new concepts to students. Find well-written examples of concepts
and use them to demonstrate expectations to your class. Be careful and try and select a range of abilities as nothing
enhances confidence like your work being displayed as a model for others to aspire to reach. While it is easy to find
samples from high-achievers, search for basic concepts from low-ability writers (even just a sentence) so that they
can feel the sense of achievement. If the need arises to deconstruct texts, use student written texts from within the
class so that they can be discussed within a framework of construction that all children are already familiar.

29
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Example Lesson Plan for Fluency 01 – The Treasure Chest

Purpose: Vocabulary:

waves ship reef


The purpose of the lesson is to give students an
opportunity to improve their writing fluency. The aim is
treasure beach cannons
to give students a structured environment that will
allow them to build their knowledge prior to
island crew key
attempting writing tasks.
cave captain dark
Students will be required to record their results and to
edit their work.
map cove deck

Warm-up: Write:
Choose a goal to be the focus of the lesson. Children
A short dictation passage (sentence boundaries):
focus on ensuring this goal is being met throughout the
lesson. (For more information on goals, see the goals
A small boy went for a swim on a lake. He jumped off a
section of this guide – pages: 32-34.)
rock and made a big splash. The girls by the lake got
wet.
Give students 10 minutes to write as much as they can
on their chosen topic.

Build Knowledge: Revise/Edit


Give students 20 minutes to build their knowledge on Children complete their own proofreading as
the theme. instructed. They can use the editing checklist provided
at the bottom of the sheet to make sure they revise
Encourage them to work together and share ideas. their own work.
Pictures should be drawn and labelled.
The teacher can then provide feedback using the 3-step
Remind students the more they explore the topic, the SAS method (see page: 36):
easier it will be to write about. Get them to beg, steal
and borrow ideas from peers. - a Strength
- an Area to improve
Teach: A prewriting strategy to plan for a writing task. - a Suggestion
Planning is an essential part to the fluency process.
See Feedback Section (page: 37) for ideas and areas to
Students need to know where their writing is heading
give feedback on.
before they begin.

We will use the ‘BME´ strategy to plan. Notes:


Beginning Middle End

30
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Purpose: Vocabulary:

Warm-up: Write:

Build Knowledge: Revise/Edit

Teach:

Notes:

31
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Goals for Student Writing


Writing is a complex task; one that a lot of children find difficult or tedious. What makes writing even more
problematic for children, is the expectations adults and teachers place on their work without providing sufficient
opportunities for them to understand how to effectively use language to enhance writing. Everybody’s writing has
faults in grammar, syntax, spelling and content; let alone a child trying to discover their actual writing ability. It is our
job to try to foster children’s writing in a non-threatening manner to push them to achieve their potential. To assist
children on their journey, Simple Strategies: writing that works uses a four-goal structure for the primary
classroom.

The purpose of these writing goals is to improve writing. Initially, it is best to set one goal for a writing task. Then, as
the children become more confident, multiple goals may be selected depending on student ability and lesson focus.
The aim is to eventually have all four goals being met during writing tasks.

Goal 1 Writing Fluency (words)


Proof-reading & Editing
Monitoring Tools:
Developing Self-

Goal 2 Punctuation & Sense (usage)

Goal 3 Spelling & Handwriting (readability)

Goal 4 Description & Vocabulary (imagery)

Further writing techniques: specific student/teacher identified concepts

One or two goals are selected for a student to focus on prior to every writing activity. This gives the student an
awareness and focus for the writing lesson. It gives them an area to improve as they write as well as a single focus
when editing. While the goals are tiered in terms of complexity, it is beneficial to move around the structure to suit
the needs of the students or the lesson.

It is important to remember that the purpose of these goals is to improve writing for beginner and reluctant writers.
We are not trying to create a polished piece of writing, but create opportunities to improve specific skills to help
children become more confident writers. Once this is achieved regularly, children can focus on further writing
techniques to review identified concepts.

Goal 1: Improve writing fluency – Get them writing

In studies of children’s writing, fluency is viewed in different ways and has varied definitions. Fluency is influenced by
a variety of factors: prewriting tasks, prior content knowledge, time spent on task and/or deep thinking and
monitoring techniques. As our focus is on writers in their early stages of development, we are going to take a very
simplistic view of writing fluency. Our definition of writing fluency will be a child’s composition rate; to put it
plainly: the number of words a child writes in a specified amount of time.

The purpose of the fluency technique is to enhance a child’s ability to transfer their ideas into written pieces of work,
or basically, getting words on a page. The thought process behind this is simple; if children write nothing, then there
is nothing to improve. We need to get children comfortable writing at an acceptable pace before we can help them
become better writers by applying new ideas and concepts.

In this goal phase, all writing is complimented. Minimal critiques are made about spelling, punctuation, meaning
making or handwriting. Our primary aim is to build the developing writer’s confidence in their ability to produce
writing. To assist with the creation of fluency, encourage children to draw on memories and experiences to create
their writing.

32
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Goal 2: Improving basic sentence structure and sense – Send a message

Once children are regularly achieving their goal with fluency, we can put the stopwatch away and begin to focus on
creating sentences that communicate effectively to the reader. Some children will already be writing in sentences
while others could need just a little tweaking. If you have been combining the ‘Developing Writing’ technique with
‘writing conventions’, children should already understand and be applying a rough sentence structure in their
writing. If you are not using this technique, then lessons on grammar may be required to teach students the parts of
a sentence.

The main punctuation we are focusing on in this goal phase is the capital letter and the full stop. Advanced
punctuation techniques can be taught in later years or when children become competent and ready to move to the
next phase of their writing development. We are trying to develop independent writers, so ensuring we don’t crush
their confidence is vital to our success and theirs. Negative language should never be used; however, constructive
feedback or reminders should be given. Using the self-editing framework, children become responsible for marking
their own sentences – this makes feedback easier to give as sentence length is easily defined.

This goal is the ideal time to watch out for incorrect sentences. Pointing out and teaching children about run-on or
fused sentences and comma splices will give them a deeper understanding of their work. Explaining to children the
definition of these incorrect sentence formats allows richer discussion and explicit feedback that leads to improved
self-editing. By doing this, it allows the teacher to introduce coordinating conjunctions (FANBOYS – For, And, Nor,
But, Or, Yet, So) or even semi-colons in a non-threatening environment surrounded by context which will help
students make meaning and find relevance in the concepts.

The simplest way children can check punctuation is by placing a rectangle around capital letters and circling full
stops. Furthermore, to encourage children to think about sentences as they write, we could instruct them to write
each new sentence in a different colour.

Goal 3: Improve spelling and handwriting – Clear communication

Children need to be aware that their writing is a method of communication; therefore, they must create written
work that is easy for the reader to comprehend. Most children, and probably most adults, have a neater handwriting
style than the one they use for the majority of their work. To get children to write neater, there needs to be explicit
instruction and goal focus so that they are aware that handwriting is their main goal. If they know beforehand that
there is an expectation and a goal has been set, then they will try to write neater. If this is continued, overtime they
will condition themselves to write neater so their work can be read. Furthermore, if students show reluctance, keep
samples of their work and ask them to re-read them at a later date – a discussion can then take place about writing
being a method of communication and a way to preserve a message.

Spelling is attacked using two monitoring methods; self-monitoring (awareness) and adult guidance. Once children
have finished writing, ask them to reread their writing to check for words spelt incorrectly or that ‘look funny’.
Children are to underline any spelling concerns in colour. These words can then be reattempted. Children should be
encouraged to read their writing in a number of different ways. They should read it backwards (as they are dealing
with spelling in isolation and not getting lost in context and prediction) and forwards, out loud and with a peer to
check for contextual spelling mistakes. Helping children locate their own spelling errors is empowering. If mistakes
are missed by the student, a simple tally stroke in the left-hand-side margin can be made to indicate an error to be
found.

Goal 4: Improve description in writing – Build vocabulary

This goal is to target students who are writing consistently, but all children need to be exposed to this goal. The aim
is help students develop more sophisticated pieces of writing. While this is the final goal, it is important that all
students are encouraged to write with detail and description. This will raise the expectations of quality writing and
give all students the opportunity to improve their writing.

33
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Increasing vocabulary knowledge is important to develop descriptive writing. Adding adjectives and adverbs can be
helpful, but the real key is vibrant verbs. Words that show rather than tell can dramatically change a piece of writing.
Exposure to ‘Exploring Writing’ tasks help to develop these skills – children just need to be reminded of this (through
explicit modelling with teacher thinking) to start to become more descriptive in all writing tasks.

When looking for examples of inspiring writing, look no further than the room where you are standing. Use examples
from your own class to show what has been done well, and what can be improved further. Celebrate successes and
encourage everyone to strive towards the same heights. Work being celebrated and used as teaching examples will
inspire children to reach a higher level.

Developing Self-monitoring tools

The purpose of these goals is to help children become self-aware of their writing. By working on these goals students
will improve their writing but will also improve their ability to successfully edit their work. For further information on
editing and proofreading, see the editing section on page: 35-37.

Further writing techniques

These are for all students, but especially for students who consistently demonstrate achievement of the four-goal
structure. Further techniques should be student or teacher identified features of writing that have explicitly been
taught to the children and expected to be attempted to improve writing. They would usually offer a level of
sophistication and maturity to writing. It could be a focus on leads into stories, using paragraphs correctly, the use of
dialogue or a simple literary technique. These higher-end tasks are much easier for students who can actively apply
the 4-goal structure effortlessly in their writing tasks.

34
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Editing & Feedback


Writing is an art form, and should be explored in the same way that we encourage children to draw, paint and
create. In society, all studies of literature and writing are classified under the arts; therefore, it's time we treat the
teaching of writing the same way we approach creative art lessons. Would you ever use a red pen to write and draw
all over a student’s artwork? We need to find the balance between allowing children to explore in a non-threatening
environment and helping them to become structurally sound writers.

Editing/Revising

Children can complete their own proofreading by underlining any possible spelling mistakes and marking their
punctuation. Children should also read their work to ensure that their writing makes sense.

Student Self-Editing Checklist


Coloured rectangle for capital letters
Coloured circle for full stops
_____ Coloured underline for misspelt or ‘funny words’
………… Highlight each sentence an alternate colour and check it makes sense

Encourage self-editing:

If children miss misspelt words, then an adult can indicate spelling mistakes to children by putting tally marks (III) in
the left-hand margin for each mistake on a line. Children can then attempt to find the misspelt word and underline
it; if this cannot be done independently, then adult guidance can be used.

Misspelt words can be corrected by the students. Children are encouraged to say the word, stretch out the sounds
and use the visual pattern to spell the word. If the word is incorrect give the child another attempt but scaffold it to
give them support E.g. If drawing was spelt droring > dr _ _ ing, give them a second chance with the correct letters in
place and blanks where incorrect. If needed, provide them with different options for the same sound and talk about
which one looks correct. Furthermore, word shapes could be used so that student can use their visual knowledge to
assist with the incorrect word.

= bring

If punctuation is missing, brackets can be used to highlight the length of writing without sentence boundaries in
place. Children can then use this guideline to place appropriate punctuation.

Basic Symbols within text – Teacher annotation


(…….) Separate in to sentences, use a conjunction or use a semi-colon
[……] Sentence doesn’t make sense or is incomplete
>……< Join short sentences with a conjunction
Basic Symbols in left hand margin:
I Incorrect Spelling
• Add Punctuation

35
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Feedback

Children are always given feedback about their writing. At the end of the writing task, a small comment can be made
following a three-step process called the SAS method.

- a Strength: - something the child did well


- an Area to improve: - an area the child needs to focus on
- a Suggestion: - feedback on an area the child is attempting, but this is a chance to expose them to
further levels of sophistication (suggestions are individualised teachable moments – verbs,
punctuation, dialogue, figurative language).

Areas to give feedback about include:

 planning  fluency  grammar


 organisation  message (make sense)  handwriting
 writing  spelling  detail/description
 editing  punctuation  vocabulary

36
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Ideas for Feedback


Punctuation &Spelling:
Capital letters for proper nouns (names of people, places, months and days etc)
Question marks for asking sentences
Use of commas in a list
All punctuation is placed inside speech marks
Check that plurals don’t have unnecessary apostrophe
Check usage and placement of apostrophe in contractions
Subjects and verbs agree
Check pronoun reference
Check spelling of homophones
Look for change in verb tense
Structure:
Use of paragraphs
Separate paragraphs with a line space
Vary paragraph lengths
Vary sentence beginnings
Check the sequence of each paragraph
Meaning:
Reread writing to make sure it makes sense
Read to see if any words have been left out
Expand the message in each paragraph
Improve detail in each paragraph
Check for word repetition – use synonyms
Use of figurative language in description – simile, metaphor, personification, alliteration
Use of persuasive techniques – emotive language, rhetorical questions
Adding details to nouns – adjectives, adjectival phrase (with) or clause (that)
Use ‘vibrant’ verbs to add description
Use language that shows rather than tells

REVISE EDIT
ARMS CUPS
Add sentences and words Capitalise – names, places, months, sentences

Remove unneeded words or sentences Usage – nouns and verbs correctly used

Move a sentence or word placement Punctuation - . ? ! , ; ‘

Substitute words or sentences for better ones Spelling – check all words, especially homophones

37
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Reading
The importance of reading in writing development can never be overlooked. All good writing programs should
encourage reading as increased reading practice improves writing (Mills, 1974). However, we cannot simply expect
to give children a book to read and believe that they will automatically become better writers. Teachers need to
explore literature rich texts with children through shared reading experiences. The Simple Strategies: writing that
works approach to reading encourages the use of a reading journal to record thoughts, feelings and ideas discovered
as children pull apart quality books. Fun and enjoyment need to be the focus of the reading experience; we want
children to read for pleasure. Reading journal activities should be short and sharp, not a drawn-out process, so that
the enjoyment of reading the story is kept. The reading journal can take the form of a worksheet or it can be in a
blank book where children record their responses to texts.

The important aspect of reading is exploring the way the story flows and the varying techniques that authors use.
Reading a quality book provides many incidental learning opportunities as children can see literary devices in action
and achieving a purpose. Once identified and explained, these devices, with teacher support, can then be used by
children in their own writing tasks.

There is a strong link between reading and writing and the benefits of this reciprocation has unlimited potential to
build literate learners. Writing about reading is an essential skill that helps children become stronger readers; it
enhances vocabulary, comprehension and spelling. Summarising is a focus of the reading journal task; children
constantly deconstruct texts and learn about the elements of storytelling. They learn about characters and settings
as well as events that occur in a story. Children identify conflicts that arise and how these conflicts add to the value
of storytelling. Summarising introduces children to the story graph and many variations on how to plan for their own
piece of writing. Further to this, journal keeping encourages children to think deeply about a text by encouraging
them to ask questions and evaluate different aspects of the book they are reading. This deep thought process is
initially scaffolded by the teacher but eventually the students take ownership over their own thinking. By making
connections to stories, children can see how authors come up with ideas for texts. This allows children to learn that
their experiences can be used in their own writing.

These images show the work of a 7-year-


old as they complete varying reading
journal activities. The reading journal
BLM format is a supportive way to help
introduce children to collecting their
thoughts as they read.

38
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Themes:
As we read stories, we want children thinking about the big picture presented in the text. Most stories have a main
idea or message that the author wants to send – some stories have multiple messages and the readers previous
knowledge and experiences connect them to the story in different ways; stories impact everyone differently so
justification of a variety of messages can be discussed. We call these messages the themes of the story. By
understanding the theme children will have a deeper understanding of what the author was trying to achieve which
will help with their comprehension. Further to this, children can use the model that they have explored through
reading and bring that knowledge to their own texts.

After reading a text, students can express their thoughts on the theme of the story. This should be modelled first.
Once children have selected a theme, ask them to explain why they chose that theme citing evidence from the story.
Hearing and discussing multiple possible themes is a beneficial task for all students. Themes can be recorded in
writing journals.

Below is a list of some themes found in children’s stories:

 Friendship
 Love
 Jealousy
 Relationships
 Acceptance
 Overcoming challenges
 Loyalty
 Hope
 Courage
 Patience
 Teamwork
 Respect
 Family
 Perseverance
 Discovery
 Honesty
 Selfishness
 Greed
 Self confidence
 Hard work
 Childhood
 Journey
 Change
 Grief
 Imagination
 Loss

Some of these themes can be difficult for young children to understand; however, if modelled and discussed,
children can apply their understanding to these themes and justify how stories send those messages.

As children progress through school, they are required to identify and discuss the message presented by authors.
The earlier children begin acquiring the knowledge of themes, the more beneficial it will be for them in the long-
term.

39
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Summarising:
While some of these summarising formats overlap, they offer variation; this exposure to a wide range of organisers,
reinforces parts of storytelling. It allows children to find the most comfortable way to prepare their summarising.

Summary Boxes Setting Characters

Children draw pictures with labels and captions to depict the main
elements of the story. Setting, characters, the problem and solution are Problem Solution
explored. This information could be used to write a review or summary of
the story.

Retell Boxes

Children draw pictures with labels and captions to retell the events of the First Next
story. First, Next, Then and Finally are completed as the story unfolds. This
information could be used to write a review or summary of the story or to
give an oral retell. Then Finally

Beginning Middle End


B-M-E Chart (Beginning-Middle-End)

The B-M-E chart is a simple summarising tool. It’s a


combination of labelled drawings and captions to retell the
story. Children can explore the narrative structure by looking
at what was happening at the start and how that changed by
the end.

Somebody - Wanted – But – So - Then

This is a very common summarising activity. Children plot out the story by Somebody:
identifying the main characters (somebody) and what they were trying to
achieve (wanted). After that, they introduce the problem (but) and then Wanted:
explain what events occurred because of the problem (so). Finally, the children
identify the solution to the story (then). But:

So:

Then:

40
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Beginning & End

This is a simple summarising technique. Children explain what happened at the start of the story and then tell what
happened at the end of the story. This allows the children to discuss what has changed from the beginning of the
story to the end. It can also lead to discussion about how the views and actions of the main character could have
changed – and a catalyst for this change could be explored.

Once Upon a Time… Once upon a time Everyday


The once upon a time format lends itself to deconstructing a text for the
purpose of summarising. Using this format helps children understand the One day Because of that
basic story telling structure. Children identify characters and the setting
(once upon a time). They see how these characters lived their lives
(everyday) before a problem occurs (one day). The children can see how the problem is resolved (because of that).
Children can use a combination of pictures and writing to pull the text apart.

Fiction Summary
Where did the
Who was in the story?
This summarising activity allows the children to story take place?
What did you think
give an overview of the story. They identify Fiction Summary
of the story?
characters and setting before exploring the plot Was there a problem?
What was it?
and significant events. Finally, the children give an How was it solved?
opinion about the story. In a way, this simple What were the most
summary creates a short review. important things that
happened?

Story Elements

The story elements summarising technique pulls apart the main parts of a story. It Characters Setting
looks at the orientation in terms of characters and setting. It reviews the plot
through exploring the problem and solution. Children have the chance to state an
Picture Problem
event that they remember from the text as well as a place to draw a character or
event from the story.
Solution I remember

One Sentence Summary

Children try to summarise the text in just one sentence. This can be a difficult task as children need to add a lot of
information in just one sentence. This helps children to be succinct in their response in identifying what the story
was truly about.

The Five W’s

This summary techniques looks at the five most commonly asked questions in storytelling.

Who? – What? – Where? – When? – Why?

By answering these questions, children are able to give a simple oral summary of the text. A combination of pictures
and writing can be used to complete this task.

41
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Story Timeline

Children outline the story from the beginning to the end. They need to identify the main events in the text then list
them in order to retell the story.

The Story Was About & Retell

Children use their summarising skills to give a brief overview or retell of the story.

Three Events

After reading the story, children list three events that they remember from the story. This is a simple task that helps
with summarising skills.

3-2-1

This simple tool allows children to engage with the text, summarise what has occurred and think deeper about the
story. Children list three events, describe two characters and give an I wonder statement. This task is open-ended
and caters for a range of thinking skills.

42
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Character:
Character Questions

Children think about the characters in the text and their actions. They then write questions that they could ask the
character to gain a deeper insight into the story. These hypothetical questions could be answered by the children to
help them infer meaning from the text.

Inside & Outside

Inside and outside is a tool to analyse Inside Outside


characters. Children can analyse one Personality & Feelings Appearance
1)
character or compare two different
characters or even a real-life person. 2)
Children describe what a character is like on
the outside (appearance) and on the inside (personality & feelings).

Favourite Character
My favourite character was: This is a miniature study of a character. Children choose a
character from the text and explain why that character is
Because: their favourite. They draw a detailed picture of the character
with labels.

Picture

Self to Character Comparison

Children compare themselves to a character in the story by looking at how they are similar and how they are
different.

Two-word Description

Children select a character from the story then decide on two words that describe that character. Children explain
why they chose those words by providing evidence from the text.

Facts & Opinions

Children list some facts about a character in the story. They then give some opinions about the character. This
encourages the children to think deeper about characters and their actions. This task also serves as a simple way to
introduce how to identify the differences between facts and opinions in a text.

43
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Thinking:
Say Something

Children say something about the text that Comment - This is good/bad because…
was read; a comment, a prediction, a - This is confusing because…
question, a connection, or a clarification. - My favourite part is…
Question stems can be useful to elicit Predict - I predict that…
- Reading this part makes me think this will happen…
thoughts:
- I think that…
Question - Why did…
- I wonder…
- What does something mean…
Connect - This part reminds me of…
I Remember: Drawings & Statements - The character/setting makes me think about…
- The book reminds me of this book/movie…
Drawing: After reading children draw a part Clarify - At first I thought…but now I think…
of the story that they remember or that - This makes sense now because…
resonated with them. This visual prompt - This word was tricky and I think it means…
could assist children with orally retelling the story.

Statements: After reading children write events that occurred or feelings that were felt as the story was read. This
strategy assists retelling and summarising development.

Design a Front Cover

The front cover of a story usually gives a good indication of the story to follow. After reading the text, children can
design their own front cover to match the story. The front cover should have all the elements: title, author and
illustrator.

Draw Favourite Part

After reading a story, children choose their favourite part from the story and draw a picture. Drawing elicits deeper
thinking from students as they engage in the meaning of the story. They justify the reason for choosing that
particular part by stating what it means to them.

I wonder statements

Children should be constantly questioning the events that occur throughout a story. They should be questioning
actions and predicting alternative scenarios. Further to this, children should be questioning why authors and
illustrators use particular techniques or make certain choices. I wonder statements encourage children to think
deeply about the text and ask questions. These hypothetical questions could be answered by the children to help
them infer meaning from the text.

Connections
This part of the story:
Connection activities challenge children to connect the story with another story or
an event or feeling in their own lives. By connecting with stories, children begin to
Reminds me of:
bring other information to the text to allow them to make sense or challenge ideas.
It can give children a deeper understanding of what they are reading. Giving
Because:
justification of the connection is just as important as making the connection;
children need to explain what it is that makes their connection work.

44
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Personal Connection
What the Text says My Connection
Children choose a part from the text and
explain their connection to the story.

Predictions

Encouraging children to gather information from the text before predicting what will happen next is a vital
comprehension skill. Children need to consider what has occurred already and then make a valid prediction on what
they believe will be the next event in the story or after the story.

A Visualisation

As we read, we visualise in our mind what is occurring. Stories with pictures support the text, but on occasions what
we see as we read in our mind creates meaning from the story. Children simply draw something they visualised as
they read the story.

Author Questions

After reading the text, children write questions to the author to find out more about the text. This creates an
opportunity to explore the text on a deeper level and ask questions to help find meaning.

Facts & Evidence Fact:

Children list facts about the story or the characters from the story. Children
then support their statement with evidence that comes straight from the text. Evidence from text:

True or False

Children write statements about the text that can be answered as either true or false. These statements could be
swapped and answered by other children in the class. The children answering the question could locate the evidence
to support their response.

New Title

After reading the story, children decide on a new title for the story. The title should be suitable and the children
should be able to give reasons why they chose it with evidence from the text.

Evaluating the Title

After reading the story, children determine whether they think the actual title of the book was suitable. They then
use information and evidence from the text to explain why the author would have chosen the title.

45
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Cause and Effect

Understanding cause and effect helps


children develop a stronger Cause Effect
understanding of texts. Give children
events that occurred in the story
(effects) and they can locate why they
happened (cause) by finding evidence in the text or vice versa.

Changes

Children choose a part of the story that they would like to change. They need to give reasoning as to why they have
decided to make this change.

Interesting Vocabulary

Children identify new or interesting words/phrases that occur throughout the text. Children write them down and
try to work out their definition and some synonyms for those words. This is a great activity to build vocabulary.

Quiz Questions

Children design questions about the text for others to answer.

Evaluating the Ending

After reading the story, the children evaluate the author’s ending. They determine whether they think the ending is
suitable to the story or how they could change it. They could talk about how the ending suited the theme or how it
made the reader feel.

Rate & Review

Children rate the story out of three stars. Afterwards they explain why they gave this rating by writing about what
made the book enjoyable or what they didn’t like.

46
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Further Reading Activities:


Knowledge

 List the main characteristics of one of the main characters in a WANTED poster.
 Recall details about the setting by creating a picture for a postcard of where a part of the story took place.
Then write a postcard to someone in the story.
 Write a detailed description of the main character. Select your own way of presenting this information.
 Read the story to a younger audience.
 Make a bookmark complete with title, author and blurb.

Comprehension

 Make a cartoon strip showing a sequence of events in the book.


 Make up questions about the plot, characters and setting then get a friend who read the book to answer
them.
 Draw a picture of a part of the story that you like. Label parts of the picture.
 Write a newspaper report about an important event from the story.

Application

 Construct a cross-word or find-a-word puzzle using clues based on the story.


 Retell the story as a puppet show.
 Make a diorama of a scene from the story.
 Make a dust jacket for the book.

Analysis

 Write a letter to the author.


 Interview a character from the story.
 Write an advertisement to sell the book. Think about its positive features.
 Distinguish what could happen from what couldn’t happen in the story in real life.

Synthesis & Evaluation

 Create a multi-media presentation based on the story.


 Write three new titles for the story that would give a good idea of what it was about.
 Write a different ending to the story.
 Create an original character and explain how the character would fit into the story.
 Write a book review of the story. Assess the story under the following headings; storyline, characters,
language & enjoyment.
 Describe a character you would most like to spend a day with & why.
 Write a recommendation as to why this book should be read or not.

47
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Fluency
Taking the leap from the ledge onto the paper is no easy feat. Children need to be given the tools, confidence and
knowledge to know that once they leap, they won't free fall.

Purpose:
The writing fluency activities have been designed to give children the opportunity to improve the speed at which
they transfer ideas into written words.

In studies of children’s writing, fluency is viewed in different ways and has varied definitions. Fluency is influenced by
a variety of factors: prewriting tasks, prior content knowledge, time spent on task and/or deep thinking and
monitoring techniques. As our focus is on writers in early stages of their development, we are going to take a very
simplistic view of writing fluency. Our definition of writing fluency will be a child’s composition rate; to put it
plainly: the number of words a child writes in a specified amount of time.

The purpose of the fluency technique is to enhance a child’s ability to transfer their ideas into written pieces of work,
or basically, getting words on a page. The thought process behind this is simple; if children write nothing, then there
is nothing to improve. We need to get children comfortable writing at an acceptable pace before we can help them
become better writers.

We want these activities to be empowering; therefore, all writing is complimented. Minimal critiques are made
about spelling, punctuation, meaning making or handwriting. Our primary aim is to build the developing writer’s
confidence.

The fluency activity aims to offer opportunities at writing fluency with limited preparation time. For optimal results,
fluency needs to become embedded as part of the teaching day. With continual practice, students can learn to write
their ideas on paper rapidly with minimal preparation. However, once you are satisfied with the level of writing
fluency being performed, five-minute preparation time using a simple planning technique will further aid
development.

Daily writing fluency tasks offer opportunities for students to showcase their knowledge and writing skills. Children
will be regularly offering raw samples of writing that can be silently assessed and used to direct teacher instruction.
Overtime, we expect that the skills they have been learning and applying will make their way into their writing
fluency compositions.

Procedure:

1. Write at the same time each day.


2. All students are to begin writing at the same time.
3. Students are given 5-10 minutes (depending on age) to write each day. Make sure it remains consistent each day.
4. Students are given a story topic or a word bank to use so that they can begin thinking about what they will write.
There are word banks and topics included in this section. Students could be given a list of words. They could use one
of those words or all of the words to create a piece of writing. ‘The Writing Treasure Chest’ 300 prompt cards or
daily writing calendar could also be used for this fluency technique.

5. Students are given 1-2 minutes to think about what they will write about.

48
Simple Strategies: writing that works

6. Set the timer for the allotted time and tell the students to begin writing.
7. After the allotted time has elapsed, children count the number of words they have written.
8. Students record their fluency results on their sheet, and on their fluency graph.
9. Students attempt to beat their previous scores.
10. Once satisfied with a level of fluency, remind students that writing is a form of communication. Writing needs
to be readable as well as fluent; it must make sense. Students who achieve teacher set goals, in regards to fluency,
should be concentrating on other aspects; such as: punctuation, capitalisation and varied sentences.
Adapted from: One-minute Academic Functional Assessment and Interventions – Chapter 5: Increasing Writing
Fluency Performance – author unknown

49
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Suggested Fluency Story Topics


Activity 1 The Treasure Chest Activity 21 Zoos

Activity 2 Dragons Activity 22 Oceans

Activity 3 Fire Activity 23 Weekend

Activity 4 Bitten Activity 24 Forests

Activity 5 The Future Activity 25 The Strange Day

Activity 6 Haunted House Activity 26 A Holiday Adventure

Activity 7 Storm Activity 27 The New Puppy

Activity 8 The Cave Activity 28 The Robbery

Activity 9 Pets Activity 29 School

Activity 10 Shipwrecked Activity 30 The Laboratory

Activity 11 Space Activity 31 The Beach

Activity 12 The Carnival Activity 32 A Rainy Day

Activity 13 Monsters Activity 33 An Island

Activity 14 Summer Activity 34 The Forest

Activity 15 The Time Machine Activity 35 The Castle

Activity 16 Animals Activity 36 The Creature

Activity 17 The Seasons Activity 37 Pirates

Activity 18 Australia Activity 38 The Fairy Village

Activity 19 Sun Safety Activity 39 A Picnic

Activity 20 Heroes Activity 40 Lost

50
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Suggested Fluency Writing Banks


Word Bank 1 beach, dog, kite, chased Word Bank 25 old shed , surprise, broken window

Word Bank 2 hurt, play, school, friends Word Bank 26 picnic, river, sunny, explore

Word Bank 3 garden, hide, gate, bushes Word Bank 27 boat, storm, fishing, crash

Word Bank 4 tree, birds, nest, cat Word Bank 28 new neighbour, strange, visit, fun

Word Bank 5 farm, sheep, dog, tractor Word Bank 29 cave, genie, wish, mistake

Word Bank 6 hiking, bush, lost, stream Word Bank 30 underwater kingdom, mermaid, eel, trident

Word Bank 7 mail, chores, party, invitation Word Bank 31 magical powers, bank, robber, hero

Word Bank 8 starfish, toy, shop, umbrella Word Bank 32 zoo, monkeys, escape, ranger

Word Bank 9 thief, castle, stolen jewels, night Word Bank 33 waterfall, hidden cave, lake, treasure

Word Bank 10 bike, shop, bully, milk Word Bank 34 moon, haunted house, lifeless forest, fox

Word Bank 11 boy, girl, forest, storm Word Bank 35 beach, shells, sunset, waves

Word Bank 12 fairy, forest, rare flower, witch Word Bank 36 mouse, cat, cheese, kitchen

Word Bank 13 mountain, accident, helicopter, snow Word Bank 37 friends, park, footy, playground

Word Bank 14 village, soaring eagle, friendly giant, gold Word Bank 38 alien, planet, rocket, mysterious rock

Word Bank 15 valley, bloom, rabbits, snake Word Bank 39 experiment, laboratory, explosion

Word Bank 16 windy, park, growl, evening Word Bank 40 classroom, secret, missing, principal

Word Bank 17 mysterious boy, aeroplane, missing coat Word Bank 41 brave, girl, playground, alone

Word Bank 18 alone, rainy, girl, playground Word Bank 42 tree, sand, shop, bike

Word Bank 19 tree house, forest, rain, fire Word Bank 43 teacher, awake, garden, driving

Word Bank 20 camp, tent, fire, bushwalk Word Bank 44 painting, football, moon, money

Word Bank 21 fire getting closer , barn, trapped Word Bank 45 swimming, pool, swan, castle

Word Bank 22 mysterious old house, overgrown garden Word Bank 46 cactus, car, cloud, playground

Word Bank 23 garden, lost, sad, jewellery Word Bank 47 frog, princess, pond, magic

Word Bank 24 a strange island, discover a new creature Word Bank 48 silly, boy, accident, fairground

51
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Name: ____________________ Date: ____________________

Goal Goal 1 Goal 2 Goal 3 Goal 4


Focus: fluency punctuation/sense spell/handwriting describe/vocab.

Editing: Punctuation Spelling Sense Vocabulary


Goal Goal 1 Goal 2 Goal 3 Goal 4
Focus: fluency punctuation/sense spell/handwriting describe/vocab.

Editing: Punctuation Spelling Sense Vocabulary


52
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Further Fluency Tasks:


For some children, writing can be a slow and awkward process. Generally, children are able to tell a story but
struggle when it comes to writing in their books. The purpose of writing fluency is for children to get their ideas
down on paper as quickly as possible. We are not looking for the perfect sentence with this strategy, we want
children to get their thoughts out, a vital part of the writing process. With a daily or weekly routine, children will
develop their speed and accuracy while building confidence in their ability to write.

There are a variety of resources available to enhance student fluency. Students need to be fluent in different styles
of texts and also when confronted with different prompts. To help students become fluent writers across the board
we need to expose them to a range of activities. Regardless of the prompt, we need to allow students time to build
their knowledge and use planning tools to organise their writing.

The types of fluency activities provided in this resource are outlined below:

Writing prompts

Writing prompts are general prompts for writing activities. They include a building knowledge phase and a planning
component. They provide an opportunity to write based on a different format.

Image prompts

Images are powerful tools for writing. These image prompts are used to spark imagination. Children explore the
picture, engage their senses, build their knowledge, and then plan a piece of writing. Images are often used in
exams, so becoming fluent with picture prompts is an important skill.

People, Places & Things prompts

Children are given a list of people, places and things. They choose one word from each category and brainstorm by
drawing and labelling pictures. The children then use their chosen words to write a story. These activities should be
used once students are regularly achieving fluency goals as they do not offer as much brainstorming and planning
opportunities.

Subject - Verb prompts

Most of the resources are based on the theory that “if you have someone doing something, you have a story”. The
subject and verb fluency task is the basic sentence; it’s the seed of the sentence before it blossoms into a story.
From a list, children select a subject (someone) and a verb (doing something). Using those two ideas, the children
write.

Organisation:
The further fluency resources can be used for a whole class activity, during guided writing time or they can be given
to small groups to work on independently; these activities are ideal for reading and literacy group activities. These
worksheets can also make up part of a writing/literacy centre or be an option for children who complete their work
in a set time.

Teachers should pre-test students to determine their fluency level prior to commencing lessons.

Layout:
The worksheets are double-sided. The first side is generally for prewriting activities, and the second page is for
writing and editing tasks.

53
Simple Strategies: writing that works

The first step is brainstorming. Children are provided with question stems or vocabulary lists related to the topic.
They are encouraged to make notes, compile lists, and draw and label pictures to help them think about the topic.
This is our Building Knowledge phase of writing. Without background knowledge and information, writing is an
impossible task.

The second step is choosing a topic to write about. Lists of possible writing topics, based on the theme, are
suggested on the sheet or it could be selected following a class discussion. Children can either select one of these, or
a topic of their own choosing to write about.

The third step is planning. Students are given a blank box to plan their writing. Planning prior to writing will ensure
that their attempt at fluency is successful. It is suggested that children use a planning strategy with which they are
familiar. An outline of possible planning techniques can be found on ‘Simple Planning Techniques – pages: 96-104.

Before commencing writing, a goal to focus on should be selected. Please see earlier in the guide (pages: 32-34) for
information on each of the different goals. While this is a fluency activity, it’s important to note, some students will
need to focus on another goal as they could already be achieving high levels of fluency. Goals could be selected
individually or as a class.

Students are now ready to write. Writing should be limited to a certain amount of time. It is essential that it is an
unbroken period of writing where students can focus on what they are going write; it is only a short session of
writing and not a sustained period. It needs to be short and sharp with the aim of increasing writing output in the
timeframe. At the end of the allotted time, students count up the number of words written.

Once the writing has been completed, students should attempt to edit their work. There are 5 parts to the editing
process. Students need to check to ensure that they have used appropriate punctuation in their writing, especially to
mark sentences. They need to find and correct, where possible, any spelling errors. Students should also double
check to ensure that their writing makes sense and decide if they could use better vocabulary to improve their
writing. Finally, a recommendation could be made to the student in the follow up box; this is something they could
work on next time. See the editing and feedback section (pages: 35-37) for further information. Editing could be
completed leading into the next lesson; this would allow children time between writing and editing. It also could be a
simple warm-up exercise which will make them aware of areas to focus on when writing in the new lesson.

Recording:
Students can graph their results on a fluency chart to monitor their progress – examples on pages: 56-58.

Timing:
Time limits for the brainstorming and planning sections can be used; this will depend on how the activities are being
used in the classroom. Suggested timeframes are below, but are dependent on the age of students and the structure
of lesson.

Brainstorming 10-20 minutes


Planning 5-10 minutes
Writing 5-15 minutes
Editing 5-10 minutes

54
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Examples of Fluency Progression

Figure 1: 7yo girl February

This is a sample of a 7-year-old girl’s improvement after 6


months of writing fluency instruction.

Figure 2: 7yo girl June

Figure 3: 7yo boy February

This is a sample of a 7-year-old boy’s improvement


after 6 months of writing fluency instruction.

Figure 4: 7yo boy June

55
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Fluency Graph
NAME:_____________________

60

55

50

45

40

35

30

25

20

15

10

Date:

56
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Fluency Graph
NAME:_____________________

120

115

110

105

100

95

90

85

80

75

70

65

60

55

50

45

40

35

30

25

20

15

10

Date:

57
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Fluency Graph
NAME:_____________________
200
195
190
185
180
175
170
165
160
155
150
145
140
135
130
125
120
115
110
105
100
95
90
85
80
75
70
65
60
Title

Date:

58
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Developing Writing
Developing Writing is the cornerstone of this writing resource. It has been created to systematically improve student
writing. It starts by giving students tools to use to help them become more fluent and comfortable with the writing
process. Simple techniques are used to allow students to become storytellers. Overtime, as students are exposed to
descriptive writing techniques in the
Exploring Writing facet, they can apply it
to their developing writing skills. This is
combined with a continual focus on the
editing and proofreading process.

Developing Writing takes students from


the beginning of the imaginary writing
process: it begins with the simple
sentence and builds throughout the
levels to creative storytelling. It takes
into consideration students previous
experiences in writing personal
sentences and recounts and shows them Figure 1: 7-year-old boy February: “I want to find a type of gold were could I find it. I see its
how to use this knowledge to write on a island wait I dont see it were hmm I think its berhinded tree are there I see my gold
wait theres pirtits lunch the canons hes. arrrrrr I am blackbird I can destroy you stiyle look
stories.
out he has a kanin lorncher to no fair. to be cotinyd. rase your self we have to swim
spashhhh. wait where am I now I think I see my gold her her finnaally IImm there.”
Teachers need to evaluate where their students are at and select appropriate tasks to help them on their way with
their writing. Although this resource presents activities as an advancement on the previous one, it still allows for
flexibility in teaching and learning. By reviewing student progress and work, teachers can move up and down or back
and forth to cater for student needs. Teachers can introduce new concepts as required and have varying goals for
each lesson.

Developing Writing helps children focus on the prewriting stage. It empowers them to build knowledge to plan
following an easy structure. It encourages them to focus on a particular goal to enhance their writing while providing
an easy guide to take responsibility for the editing of their own writing. Developing Writing teaches children how to
write.

Figure2: 7-year-old boy October: “In the darkest


forest, the hunter hides. He creeps up to a house,
using sticky glue. He uses a knife to cut the bricks.
He goes to the creepy attic and looks around. He
looks at the deepest corners. As the moon shone,
the creepy things lurked. He looked over his
shoulder and, and, a GHOOSST emerged.

“AAAAAAHHH”.

Said the hunter. He saw candles behind the ghosts


shoulder. He grabed…

59
Simple Strategies: writing that works

The Sentence:
For children to become fluent, imaginative writers, we need them to understand the basic elements that create a
story. The Sentence writing task introduces this basic concept. To write a story, all a child needs is someone (the
subject) doing something (the verb). The introduction of this grammatical language when teaching the sentence will
assist with the later development of writing.

The Sentence has two basic goals for students to work towards:

Goal Focus: Is there punctuation? Does it make sense?

By introducing these two goals and following it up with reviewing strategies, children, from the beginning, become
responsible for the editing of their own work. This is an important step in building successful writers. Depending on
the age group, it could be beneficial to select just one goal on which to focus; however, both goals are critical to the
foundation of continued writing success and it is recommended that both are set for each task.

The task is simple; children are provided with either a subject or a verb.

SUBJECT Verb
children

climb

Before commencing the task, the children need to think of a verb for their subject or a subject for their verb, and
complete the blank boxes. This introduces children to the basic stage of planning – think and write. Once the
children have completed their planning, teachers can demonstrate how easy it is for a sentence to be created with a
subject and a verb. On the rear side of the sheet, students are provided with 8 different subjects; they can use these
subjects to create their own sentences.

SUBJECT Verb
children play
The children play.

Students begin at differing levels; therefore, it is important to find where they are up to and build from there. This
activity allows teachers to build on the sentence and demonstrate how to add more detail and description at the
sentence level.

The children play at the park.

The school children play at the park.

The school children play noisily at the park.

After school, the children play noisily at the park.

After school the children, who are still in uniform, play noisily at the park.

After school the children, who are still in uniform, play noisily at the park as their parents sit under the shade of a
tree by the river and talk about their day.

60
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Question prompts should be used to help children expand their sentences:

Where? When? Why? How?

Teachers can use this activity to demonstrate different sentence patterns with which students need to become
familiar. This task is ideal to begin teaching writing, and also for teaching new skills or responding to adjustments
that need to be made based on student progress.

Initial sentence teaching should focus on the subject and verb being used to create a sentence that makes sense.
Following on from this, students should be exploring the ideas of when, where and why? By thinking about these
prompts, students should be able to create a longer sentence. Finally, students should be introduced to adjectives to
begin to add depth to their subjects.

After a few lessons, students should be able to write a sentence that makes sense with some description. They
should also be able to punctuate their sentence.

Lesson progression and focus should be determined by the students that are being taught and not a predefined
sequence. However, it is recommended that the following standards are consistently met before advancing to the
next phase of this writing stage:

1. Students write sentences that make sense.


2. Students mark sentence boundaries correctly and consistently.

Extra Activities

- Add adjectives to describe subjects or other nouns


- Review verbs and create word storms to build vocabulary and encourage use of powerful verbs.
- Begin sentences with verbs, subordinate conjunctions or prepositions.
- Explore sentences that show, rather than tell.

The sentence is the basic element of writing. Students need to know how to use it and control it to enhance their
language skills. It should be used as the foundation task for beginning writers, but also as a tool for established
writers to learn new skills and techniques.

Ideas for Sentence Level Workshops:

- Using conjunctions to join sentences


- Exploring relative pronouns to create adjectival phrases/clauses
- Learning about prepositions and adverbial phrases
- Demonstrating use of punctuation techniques e.g. semi-colon, ellipsis & colon
- Subordinate conjunctions and the creation of main & subordinate clauses

61
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Name: ____________________ Date: ____________________

Goal Focus: Is there punctuation? Does it make sense?

SUBJECT VERB

Feedback:

Editing: Punctuation Spelling Sense Vocabulary


62
Simple Strategies: writing that works

The Recount Story:


In the early years, children spend a lot of time at school writing personal recounts. One of the toughest challenges
teachers and young learners face is transferring this knowledge over to imaginary writing. The Recount Story
continues to build from The Sentence by incorporating subjects and verbs as the topic sentences. It also brings the
familiar structure that children use when writing personal recounts. The aim of this level is to create a fictional
recount. Children will learn to base their writing on their own personal experiences but attempt to retell it through a
creative element.

The Recount Story uses the same two goals from the previous level. Children need to be responsible for their own
learning and need to know which elements of writing will be the focus during the lesson. We want children editing
their work to make sure that is makes sense and that there is punctuation.

Drawing and labelling have an important role to play in the development of writing. Drawing as a planning tool
enables children to outline and explore their writing in their mind before they commence. This helps students know
what to write and to add description to their writing. The initial focus is on the general story outline. Children work
out who the story will be about and what they will be doing using the 5 W’s strategy. Following on from the
sentence, children should be able to use this information to create a topic sentence for their writing task.

Who (Subject) What (Action –verb)

When Where Why

Children then use their knowledge of the personal recount structure to help them plan the events of their story. While
this isn’t a conventional story with a complication and a solution, it helps children develop a series of events that will
tell a tale. Once they become familiar with the events of a story, children can then explore the features of narratives.

First Then

Next After Finally

63
Simple Strategies: writing that works

By using drawings and labelling pictures, children can explore descriptive features of environments and characters.
Furthermore, students can think about feelings and emotions experienced at different events and add these details in
their writing. These elements can be added to their writing from their planning page.

The Recount Story is the first step towards story writing. Children are recounting an event and building on their
previous writing techniques.

1 – subject + verb (the stretch sentence: Where? When? Why?)

2 – First: follow on event + detail (description – feelings/emotions – actions)

3 – Then: follow on event + detail (description – feelings/emotions – actions)

4 – Next: follow on event + detail (description – feelings/emotions – actions)

5 – After: follow on event + detail (description – feelings/emotions – actions)

6 – Finally: the resolution or ending to the event that took place: a reflection on the experience

Once again, we are using our initial ideas – the skeleton - and building on top of them. Using time connectives (first,
then, finally etc) children can build on their initial sentences to make a paragraph. The follow-on event is explaining
what happens next to help children create a paragraph.

This needs to become the minimum expected standard. The initial goal is to create a 3-5 sentence paragraph about an
event. Once this is achieved regularly children can begin to add details and description to turn events into their own
paragraphs.

Once children are consistently writing paragraphs, giving extra information and writing in sentences, it is time to move
to the next level.

Example:
Sally was outside playing in her backyard. She was running around chasing her little brother while her dad mowed the lawn.
When she went inside, she was hot and tired.

Her mum looked at Sally as she slumped down on the lounge. She said to Sally that they should go to the beach. Sally was
excited, she loved the beach. She rushed to her room to get ready while mum helped Tommy get ready. Sally changed her clothes
and grabbed her towel, then she rushed outside to tell her dad.

Sally's family lived close to the beach so they soon arrived. When she stepped out of the car, Sally could feel the breeze coming
from the water. Tommy ran off down to the sand and mum had to chase after him, he was too little to be by the water by
himself. Dad set up the umbrella while Sally ran down to the water's edge and felt the water run over her toes.

Soon dad joined her by the water so they made their way out into the waves. The water was cold but it was refreshing. They
spent the afternoon splashing in the water and catching waves while mum and Tommy played in the shallows.

After a while, Sally decided to play in the sand. She built a mermaid and then a dolphin. Dad sat with Tommy and showed him
how to build a sand castle with his bucket and spade. Then Sally and her family went for a walk to the rock pools where they
watched the waves crash over the rocks. Dad found a small hermit crab. Tommy wanted to keep it as a pet but mum said no.

Before they went home, they ate some hot chips. Then dad bought everyone an ice-cream. Sally ate hers too fast and got a brain
freeze. Mum suggested that she sit in the beautiful afternoon sunlight to warm up. When they had finished their ice-creams, dad
drove everyone home.

8-year-old girl

64
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Name: ____________________ Date: ____________________

Who (Subject) What (Action –verb)

When Where Why

First Then

Next After Finally

65
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Goal Focus: Is there punctuation? Does it make sense?

Feedback:

Editing: Punctuation Spelling Sense Vocabulary

66
Simple Strategies: writing that works

The Story Outline:


Recounts and narratives are very closely linked; helping children to see the link and the subtle differences will help
them become fluent storytellers. Both forms of texts have people and events, but stories introduce problems and
solutions. A story should have peaks and troughs and keep the reader interested and in suspense. The bottom line is:
recounts are used to give information while a narrative’s purpose is to entertain. The story outline allows children to
build on their knowledge of recounts but begin to explore the notion of a problem in a story.

The story outline is where we first begin to look at the four-goal structure:

Goal Goal 1 Goal 2 Goal 3 Goal 4


Focus: fluency punctuation/sense spell/handwriting describe/vocab.

The four goals allow the teacher to determine which writing convention to focus on during the lesson. The Goal
Focus is supplementary to the learning intention of writing a story, but it keeps elements of writing in the back of a
student’s mind. For more information regarding the Goals for Writing see pages: 32-34.

The template for the story outline is a common summarising technique. It follows on from the previous work on
imaginary recounts and begins the exploration of a narrative. Firstly, students are given a scenario and a list of
vocabulary words to help them come up with ideas for their writing.

Boat on the ocean…


waves pouring clouds
lightning pelting flashes
rocking crew crash
swell captain dark
thunder roar deck

Then students use the planning framework to plan their writing. Labelled pictures are the main focus of the story
planning stage. Drawing is a powerful planning and thinking tool and enables the students to immerse themselves in
their story. The oral retelling as they work, helps children to map out their ideas and successfully plan their writing.
The planning boxes also have caption boxes so that a brief overview of what is happening can be noted for reference
when writing.

Somebody:
Somebody
Wanted: (Who is the main character?)
But:

So:

Then:

67
Simple Strategies: writing that works

The story outline begins to introduce new vocabulary to students; characters, problem, solution and resolution
become part of the language used in the writing classroom. Exposing children to these words and their meanings in
this simplistic way will help when delving deeper into narrative writing; furthermore, this simple planning technique
will have reciprocal benefits for summarising activities as students are familiar with the outline and can apply their
understanding to unfamiliar texts.

When introducing the story outline, teachers should use familiar stories like Little Red Riding Hood or movies to
show how the outline works. This will demonstrate to the students that stories have ups and downs. The purpose of
these are to create tension and entertainment for the reader. This pattern is repeated throughout narratives and
movies and this repetition can be demonstrated to show how the story graph works.

The Story Outline in use:

Somebody: Nemo

Wanted: to prove to his father (Marlin) that he was grown-up enough to do things

But: he got captured by humans

So: Marlin had to travel the ocean to find Nemo

Then: Marlin & Nemo were reunited

This is a simple overview of a story that could be retold; however, most movies and stories will repeatedly follow this
similar pattern in their story-telling.

Somebody: A clownfish, Marlin and his wife

Wanted: to have a family

But: a sea-creature destroyed their eggs and Marlin’s wife died

So: Marlin discovered that one egg, although damaged, survived

Then: Marlin moved to a safer part of the ocean to raise and protect his baby

Somebody: Nemo, who had grown up and was ready for school

Wanted: to prove to his Marlin, who was over-protective, that he was grown-up enough to do things

But: he got captured by humans

So: Marlin had to travel the ocean to find Nemo

Then: Marlin found another fish, Dory, who had seen the boat

Somebody: Marlin

Wanted: Dory to show him where the boat went

But: Dory had memory loss

So: She thought Marlin was chasing her so she tried to swim away before confronting him

Then: Some other fish came to help Dory so Marlin explained he was looking for a boat

68
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Progression: To introduce the up and down nature of imaginary writing a simple ‘and’ can be added to the ‘so’
element. Adding this simple adjustment to the text structure, introduces children to multiple problems or conflicts
within a story but in the surrounding of a familiar environment. By building on top of the same layer, children can
start to prepare for the requirements of a sustained imaginative text.

Somebody: A cheetah, Dotty: young curious explore

Wanted: search jungle (forbidden); look for mysterious diamond

But: caught by hunters – in nets

So: is able to bite nets and escape And: leads hunters back to home (lair) and baby siblings

Then: Dotty’s parents appear and chase hunters away

Finally: Dotty learns lesson

69
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Name: ____________________ Date: ____________________

The Story Outline


Goal 1 Goal 2 Goal 3 Goal 4
Goal Focus:
fluency punctuation/sense spell/handwriting describe/vocab.

Somebody
(Who is the main character?)

Wanted But
(What did they want?) (A problem that stops them getting what they want!)

So Then
(How did they solve this problem?) (What happened after the problem was resolved?)

70
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Once Upon a Time…:


Stories have many elements; that is why they can be difficult to create. Writing a story that stays on topic and flows
can be extremely difficult for adults, let alone children. It is essential to build on top of prior knowledge and provide
opportunities for students to make meaning and apply their understanding so that they develop into confident
writers. The Once upon a time… method continues to build on the elements of storytelling by introducing further
concepts around imaginary writing and storytelling techniques. This activity begins to look at the setting, which was
previously explored in the Recount Story, as well as looking at the back story of characters and the point of change
(call to action) in a story that leads to an adventure. It is the first introduction to plot development and sophisticated
story-telling. The Once upon a time… story telling technique is used widely and is one of Disney Pixar’s plot
frameworks.

Once upon a time: This is the start of the story. It explores who the story is about and where
the story will take place.

Every day: This is where we get to learn about the characters and their usual life. As
students’ progress with writing, this information can be used to backfill
the story with further details.
One day: This is the moment of change; the problem in the story. This is where
something unusual happens that disrupts the character’s usual day. As
students become more adept at using this strategy, beginning with the
moment of change helps students write with more action and excitement
to begin their story.

Because of that: This is what happened because of the change. This could be the solution
to the problem or merely lead the reader to the next event or problem.

Until Finally: This is what happened because of the change. This could be the solution
to the problem or merely lead the reader to the next event or problem.

Students select a theme or use the theme provided to plan a short story. Initially, the four elements of Once upon a
time… can create an entire story. Learning how to plan with this tool helps students drastically improve their fluency
rate. The children are provided with four main planning boxes to map out their story. The story should be drawn and
labelled with captions written to explain the story outline.

Once upon a time Every day

71
Simple Strategies: writing that works

The Once upon a time… planning method can lend itself to a much more detailed story. The ‘because of that’ frame
can set up the whole journey. Have a look at how Disney Pixar use this technique to begin the journey that becomes
their story; take for example the plot of Toy Story:

1. Once upon a time … there was a boy named Andy who loved toys – especially his cowboy Woody.
2. Every day … Andy would play with Woody and his other toys – Woody was always the hero.
3. One day … Andy had a birthday and his mum gave him a Space Ranger called Buzz Lightyear.
4. Because of that … Woody was forgotten and he became jealous of Buzz who he pushed out the window.
5. Because of that … The other toys were annoyed, so Woody set off after Buzz. (This leads to multiple ‘because of that’ events.)
6. Until finally … Woody and Buzz return to the rest of Andy’s toys as friends and equals.

So that children can further develop the plot of their story, they are provided with space to plan for events that may
occur on the way to resolving the problem. Using the familiar framework first explored when learning about the
Recount Story helps children easily list their ideas. Not all of the boxes need to be completed, but the children can jot
down their ideas so that they have a clear picture of where their story is headed.

Because of Because of Because of Because of


Until finally
that (first) that (next) that (then) that (after)

The purpose of this technique is to encourage story telling. At the basic level, it is about creating a short one
paragraph story. It covers the basic elements of a narrative to create a short story.

Planning Topic: Pirates


Once upon a time:
Once upon a time there was a crew of evil pirates. They lived on an old
evil pirates –
wooden ship in the vast blue sea.
ship - sea
Every day:
Every day they would sail their ship on the ocean; searching for ships
sailed the sea –
to attack and plunder.
attack - plunder
One day:
One day, when sailing on the ocean, they discovered an Island. It was
found an island
the Island of Doom.
- Doom
Because of that:
They went and explored the island. The pirates didn’t know that when
they were
you went on the island you couldn’t escape. They were trapped.
trapped

Examples:

A long time ago there was a beautiful village which was located in a valley full of green grass. People lived happily
and peacefully with each other. Suddenly a big scary dragon came to destroy the village. Then a brave hero
appeared. He fought bravely and defeated the dragon. The people thanked the hero and he left. – 7-year-old boy

Once upon a time, there was a pretty princess called Rose and she lived with her mum and dad. They lived in a
palace made of diamonds. Rose’s bedroom was the prettiest. Every day they go for a walk. They always saw the
same things. They always saw a fountain, butterflies and blue birds. One day when they were walking back they saw
a prince. The princess went to talk to the prince. She asked would you like to marry me? The prince said yes so, they
walked back to the castle to have a wedding. – 6-year-old girl

72
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Name: ____________________ Date: ____________________

Once upon a time…


Topic:
Goal 1 Goal 2 Goal 3 Goal 4
Goal Focus:
fluency punctuation/sense spell/handwriting describe/vocab.

Once upon a time Every day

One day Because of that

Because of that Because of that Because of that Because of that Until finally

73
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Descriptive Paragraph:
The Descriptive Paragraph is where students begin to mix together the skills that they have learnt in Exploring
Writing activities with skill techniques harnessed during Developing Writing. In the previous tasks in this section,
students have only been asked to tell stories; there may have been some discussion in regards to detail and
description but there may not have been a focus. This is where students want to use their understanding of Imagery,
Show not Tell and Literary Techniques to enhance the storytelling experience and bring their writing to life. This is no
easy task and requires planning and effort with a focus on moving the story along, but incorporating detail.

Each task has a picture prompt of either a setting or a character. Children explore the picture in the planning phase
in preparation for the detail they will add to their writing.

Character Traits Setting Description Actions

Draw your Character in Setting

Question
Who? When? Where? What? Why? How?
Prompts:

By now, if using Developing Writing and Exploring Writing in conjunction, students should be familiar with writing
sentences with powerful verbs and know how to describe the environment around them. They should know how to
adequately use adjectives and prepositions. Ideally, the children will have familiarity with subordinate conjunctions.
Using the listed grammatical features, children are able to add a level of description to their writing. We are dealing
with young writers, so the focus is ensuring that, initially, their opening paragraph is quite descriptive and slowly we
can build throughout their texts as they become familiar and fluent with writing descriptively.

Some students will still require a scaffold at this stage. This may be the first-time students have been asked to
combine storytelling and description together; they cannot be expected to automatically know how. Therefore, it is
ideal to provide uncertain students with a direct scaffold technique to ensure they feel success at this level.

Once upon a time


describe person/place/feelings
Everyday This is the basic format of combing description
describe person/place/feelings and action into a story. It is a starting point and
One day a framework and needs to grown from this
describe person/place/feelings point on through deeper writing techniques.
Because of that
describe person/place/feelings

74
Simple Strategies: writing that works

This scaffold is simple. To help the students focus on description, they are encouraged to write a sentence that tells
part of the story followed by a sentence that describes the character or the setting. While this is quite a rigid
method, it brings description and narrative writing together. As students become familiar with narrating and
describing together, the alternating sentences will drop off and become a smoother storytelling experience.

Examples:

The moon trickled over the clouds and the stars shimmered like silver. As the dark sky reflected on the ocean, waves
clattered against the rocks. Through the darkness, palace guards chase the street rat while his pet steals the
shimmering gold. – 8-year-old boy

As the city lights reflect on the cold water, the moon glimmered. Old and tired boats sit on the water. Jasmine
walked through the city streets to find a fancy restaurant. She sat down at the table in the beautiful restaurant and
orders her yummy food. Nearby wolves howl and run into the village. Jasmine heard a roar. – 8-year-old girl

The Descriptive Paragraph can be a daunting experience. It’s important to be patient and give the students
multiple opportunities to refine and apply the skills and knowledge they have built up over time.
Continually reflecting on what was written well and what needs to be worked on to enhance the
descriptive element of writing is critical to success. Use children’s writing as examples when the intention
of the lesson is being met.

75
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Name: ____________________ Date: ____________________

Goal 1 Goal 2 Goal 3 Goal 4


Goal Focus:
fluency punctuation/sense spell/handwriting describe/vocab.
Character Traits Setting Description Actions

Draw Character in Setting

paste image here

Question Prompts: Who? When? Where? What? Why? How?

76
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Simple Stories:
This is the final stage of Developing Writing progress. From this point onwards, there is a need to develop deeper
plots and outlines. At this level, students bring all their skills together to write short, simple stories. The students
should be implementing all four of the learning goals at this point in time. The age of the students will determine the
expectations set for the writing task. Younger students may only have detail and description in the opening
paragraph while older children would be expected to carry it through the entire text.

Students are provided with a familiar fairy tale or a simple scenario prompt to write about. These stories will fall into
a general plot structure. This is the first-time students have been formally introduced to the basic and common plot
structures. In the previous activities, the children have developed their story writing but there has not been a focus
on the type of narrative they are constructing. Introducing them to the plot structures will guide their planning and
help them to understand where their story is heading. These are the four most common plot structures that children
use in their writing:

Overcoming a monster This plot involves a hero who must destroy a monster or villain that is a
threat the other characters. (Star Wars)

Rags to Riches This plot involves a poor or miserable hero whose fortune changes.
(Cinderella)
Quest This plot involves the hero setting off on a great adventure in search for a
great prize. (The Hobbit)

Voyage & Return This plot involves the hero travelling to a faraway place and becoming
trapped before they are able to escape and return home. (Alice in
Wonderland)

Following plot selection, children can begin to organise their characters. Children can select a protagonist (hero) and
an antagonist (villain) which they can draw, label and describe in the spaces provided. Having children select just two
characters ensures that they don’t get carried away and are able to keep both characters involved in the story. At
times, it can suitable to add extra characters, but encourage the children to stick to the rule of three: in general,
three characters and/or events is more effective and engaging for the reader. Children can also begin to choose their
setting. Although space is limited, encourage children to draw and label their setting and focus on the environment –
spare paper for sketching and jotting ideas may be required.

Using a simple planning tool for imaginary writing, Orientation-Problem-Solution, students can then begin to plan
their writing. Knowledge of earlier planning structures and templates will aid the outlining of a story. A combination
of sketching and labelling should be used to develop and map out the story outline. Each picture should be
captioned to give a brief overview of the story. A suggestion for each stage is provided; this is to assist students who
are having difficulty organising their ideas. These suggestions can be used or ignored by the student.

77
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Examples:

As the sun rises, the birds tweet. Little Red Riding Hood runs through the big green forest. The sun shines into the
woods. When Red walks past the flower beds, she picks a yellow one for Granny. Then she walked through the dark
side of the forest. Suddenly a big grey hairy wolf jumped out from behind a tree… - Year 2 Student

Nearby there stands a rugged old cottage overlooking the forbidden forest. Little Red’s Grandma was fairly sick so
she decided to bake some cookies for her. Her mother gave her a red coat and she snuck Squeakers the mouse in her
pocket for some company. When she got beyond the forest, a bear and a wolf appeared. “What do you have in the
basket little girl?” –Year 2 Student

The Simple Stories activity is the culmination of the imaginary writing tasks in Developing Writing. Students combine
plot and storytelling with description and detail to create a story that grabs the reader’s attention. Continuously
writing stories isn’t enough. Students need to continue to push themselves and become exposed to further literary
techniques that can enhance their writing and understanding of the construction of texts.

78
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Name: ____________________ Date: ____________________

Title:

Plot:
Protagonist (Hero) Antagonist (Villain) Setting

Orientation (characters/setting) Problem Solution

Goal 1 Goal 2 Goal 3 Goal 4


Goal Focus:
fluency punctuation/sense spell/handwriting describe/vocab.

79
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Exploring Writing
Writing is an exploration; an exciting journey into the wilderness of our very own imaginations. Where that
expedition will take us is only limited by our inability to let go and give in to the vast emptiness awaiting our
thoughts. Creating a writing environment that is non-judgemental and encourages exploration during each step of
the writing process is essential for children to succeed in writing. This is why writing fluency is such a vital step in the
teaching of writing. If children are unable to put the fear of writing behind them, then they will never get the
opportunity to explore. Therefore, writing fluency is the cornerstone of teaching success; if you want to help your
students become better writers, then you must help them become fearless and confident when confronted with the
blank page. Writing is a form of art and expression. Children need to be encouraged to see writing as an artistic
activity; a time when they can explore their imagination and create new worlds. Children have vivid imaginations –
maximising these imaginations is the key to creating writing classrooms.

The focus of Exploring Writing is to enable children to become descriptive writers who take risks. The activities in
this section are designed to spark imagination and elicit creativeness from children. Further to this, the activities
show children various techniques they can add to their own writing to help it become more descriptive. Teaching
students the power of precise verbs and nouns through exploration creates interesting writing.

These activities will help children to consider and explore their settings and learn about their characters. They will
help children analyse human actions and emotions and realise how to use this knowledge to enhance writing. The
tasks will help children write more precise and descriptive sentences; they could be descriptive yet simple, or they
could begin to construct complex sentences.

Throughout these tasks, teachers are presented with opportunities to teach children about subordinate conjunctions
and prepositions and how these parts of speech help create varying sentences. Children learn about adjectives and
adverbs and their use in descriptive writing, but further to this, children can be taught the power of strong
descriptive verbs that create vivid descriptions and allow their writing to flow. A focus on how the different parts of
speech can be combined to create writing is empowering. Once modelled and expected, children’s writing moves to
a new level.

When tackling Exploring Writing tasks, children need to be encouraged to paint a picture with their words. They
need to understand that they are the artist and the words they use and phrases they construct create an image in
the reader’s head. Children need to pushed to explore in an environment that is supportive and free of criticism. We
want to see children attempting new words and looking for new ways
to create meaning. Further to this, we want to see children using a
range of literary devices in a creative way as they explore and write
their texts.

Teachers need to continually remind students that writing is an art


form. They need to sketch out the outline and fill in the details. They
need to manipulate and explore a range of sentences and techniques
to make their writing meaningful. Writing should be as joyous as a craft
activity in the classroom.

80
Simple Strategies: writing that works

“In among hills and valleys lavished with


marigolds, a river flows through the green
grassy hills. A belt of trees grows on either side
of the river. Behind the hills is a magnificent
sunset. Clouds cover the sunset. Only golden
UV light shines through the grey clouds. A little
part of the river goes to a lake. Behind the lake
is an old rusty fence. Laying beyond the gate is
a forest. Animals like foxes and rabbits live in
the forest…In the village houses are tall and
presentable, hard doors, strong brick walls,
shiny windows and red tiled roofs.” – 8-year-
old boy

When children become active explorers in their own writing, they emerge with powerful language and ideas. They
will not always nail their first attempt, but they expose opportunities to learn. Discovering teachable moments
surrounded by context and eagerness, allows for students to become active learners. When encouraged to explore,
even the youngest child will surprise you. Children who have the confidence to play around with words and express
themselves open doors to unlimited possibilities.

When it comes to writing, we want our children to be explorers. We want them to become self-learners as they
journey through their imagination.

81
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Microscope Sentences:
This is a build-up sentence technique and is best used with an image.
Children take an object from a picture and put it under the
microscope to build it up into a descriptive sentence.

The first step is to explore the picture. Generally, an image can be


broken into three sections: the background, the foreground and the
middle ground. By children brainstorming together and listing all the
items they can see in each section they are able to familiarise
themselves with the picture; this helps children begin to create ideas
for writing. Children look in each section and create a list. Finally,
children should brainstorm everything they think they could imagine
happening or that could be hiding in the picture. Once this stage is
complete, children should have a long list of words that they will be
able to use in their writing. This activity is great as a shared task as
children can learn new vocabulary that can be utilised later in their
writing.

Once brainstorming is complete, children begin to


create microscope sentences (N.B. this could be during
the next lesson). Firstly, children select a subject for
their sentences from the picture or their brainstorming
list. Just one word is written on the first line. Then,
after zooming in, they write a new line that includes the
word from the first line and another that adds detail to
the first word – just two words. Next, they zoom in
further and add a third word on a new line to have 3
words altogether. After this, children repeatedly zoom
in and start to add phrases to make their microscope
sentence longer. This is similar to a word chain.

As children build their sentence up, it doesn’t have to make sense as a coherent sentence. The focus is on exploring
the scenery and looking at the detail. Each line adds a new detail to the sentence. It’s easy for children to get carried
away with Microscope Sentences; a limit between 6-8 ‘zooms’ may be required to ensure that the purpose has been
met. Once children have completed zooming in on the subject, they can construct an actual sentence using the
information they have gathered from the image.

boat
large boat
large wooden boat
large wooden boat in the water
large wooden boat in the clear blue water
large wooden boat sailing in the clear blue water
captain on large wooden boat sailing in the clear blue water
captain shouting orders on large wooden boat sailing in the clear blue water
as land approaches captain shouting orders on large wooden boat sailing in the clear blue water

Children can add to their initial descriptive sentence by following it on with another sentence:
“As the land approached, the captain shouted orders at the crew on the large wooden ship that had been sailing
across the clear blue ocean. The crew quickly began to hoist the sails and the ship turned towards the shore.”

82
Simple Strategies: writing that works

This task can be taken to the next level to begin to explore adjectival phrases and clauses and using prepositional
phrases to build detail. It is important to understand that this task is a brainstorming, exploring and experimental
task. The amount of detail is an exaggeration but is a great chance to build vocabulary and skills in an unrestricted
environment.

noun N.B. The with phrase & that clause


adjective + noun are interchangeable, not rigid in
adjective + adjective + noun order. Relative pronouns could also
adjective + adjective + noun + with (adjective + noun) be used.
preposition phrase + adjective + adjective + noun + with (adjective + noun)
preposition phrase + adjective + adjective + noun + with (adjective + noun) + that (verb + object or adverb)
preposition phrase + adjective + adjective + noun + with (adjective + noun) + that (verb + object or adverb)
preposition phrase + adjective + adjective + noun + with (adjective + noun) + that (verb + object or adverb) + verb
preposition phrase + adjective + adjective + noun + with (adjective + noun) + that (verb + object or adverb) + verb +
preposition phrase
preposition phrase + adjective + adjective + noun + with (adjective + noun) + that (verb + object or adverb) + verb +
preposition phrase + conjunction + (new noun – build again)

river
long river
long, windy river
long, windy river with a sandy bank
under the sun, a long, windy river with a sandy bank
under the sun, a long, windy river with a sandy bank that leads to a path
under the sun, a long, windy river with a sandy bank that leads to a path flows
under the sun, a long, windy river with a sandy bank that leads to a path flows quickly
under the sun, a long, windy river with a sandy bank that leads to a path flows quickly by the town
under the sun, a long, windy river with a sandy bank that leads to a path flows quickly by the town as birds

under the sun, a long, windy river, with a sandy bank that leads to a path, flows quickly by the town as above the
trees, playful, frolicking birds, that glide through the clouds, soar over meadows where the cherry blossoms bloom

While this phrasing is quite over the top, it is a fun and playful way for students to explore, use and understand how
grammar can add new dimensions to their writing.

83
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Sensory Writing:
Sensory Writing follows on nicely from Microscope
Sentences; in fact, it is beneficial to do one activity
after the other on the same topic. That way the
children have spent time exploring and developing
their ideas from different angles. For this task an
image is once again used as the stimulus. Children use
a planning sheet to help them plan some descriptive
writing using their senses.

The more the children can write in the boxes the


better as it gives them more material to use to write
their sentences/paragraph.

Once completed, children can then use the words to


create descriptive sentences or an entire paragraph.
Students can combine ideas to help create a setting.
Once familiar with the format of sensory writing,
teachers can introduce more advanced parts of speech
to help student writing become more sophisticated and descriptive.

See Describe adj verb Feel Hear Imagine


boat old wooden wind waves pirates

sailing rocking crew

The old wooden boat is sailing in the deep blue ocean. The waves splash against the ship rocking
the crew side to side. A pirate flag blows in the wind.

Model and then encourage the following steps to elicit creative writing:

 Imagine yourself in the setting


 Think about the environment – what can you see/hear/feel?
 Choose powerful verbs
 Use some adjectives, but not too many
 Select interesting vocabulary
 Begin and join with subordinate conjunctions (as/while/when/before/after)
 Add detail with prepositions
 Attempt similes or personification

These examples highlight many of the teaching points above. They especially showcase the power that verbs bring to
a descriptive text:

“The wind whistles as the wolf howls under the eerie moon. Foxes hunt while mice scatter amongst fallen leaves.
The castle shines through the blackness. Owls perch on the twisted branches.” – 8-year-old girl

“The wind is whistling through the gnarled branches. The fox hunts for food as the dark night sky clears. The cold
flags are flowing through the cold night breeze. The dark eerie sky is starting to clear and the animals are scurrying
out of their burrows. The foxes are rustling through thick scrub; hunting for prey. The leaves are brushing through
the wind.” – 8-year-old-girl

84
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Prepositional Poetry:
Prepositional Poetry is a playful way to learn about prepositions. Children are provided with a theme and an image
to explore. They list all the features they can see or could imagine to be in the picture. They can then use this list of
features to create their prepositional poem.

The activity provides students with a generous list of prepositions which they can select from to assist them with
their writing.

In the Garden See Imagine

Question Prompts: Who? When? Where? What? Why? How?


Prepositions
beneath before in at under out of by below
between during on along beyond onto across behind
within since to of among up through past
after until underneath out near above inside against
next to till beside off around before upon outside
towards over amid from for with down into

At the beach, In the garden,

Between the palm trees Between the creaking gate

Across the golden sand Along the path

Amid the crystal water Amid the colourful flowers

Dancing dolphins swim in the waves. Outside the cottage

Lays a resting butterfly.

The poem begins with the topic and then each new line starts with a preposition. Ideally the children will be taking
their reader on a journey through the image until they reach an end destination; however, each line can be
unrelated. Each new line only has to be three words in length and adjectives are optional. This task is similar to
Microscope Sentences as each line takes the reader further and further into the image. The length of the poem can
vary but anywhere between 6-8 lines should be the maximum length. The final line is a chance to introduce an active
voice rather than a passive voice – a subject: verb or verb: subject ending is required rather than an auxiliary (is, are,
was, etc.) verb.

This task is a great introduction to prepositions and their ability to act as modifiers and vary sentence beginnings.
The best part about prepositional poetry is that it creates sentence starters for children. By taking a simple phrase
from the poem, children can see the power that prepositions hold and how they can impact their writing.

85
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Phrase: Amid the crystal water

Amid the crystal water, mermaids glide amongst the colourful coral.

This sentence demonstrates how easily prepositions can be used to dress up sentences. Children have already
created the phrases in an isolated activity and can now use them to create descriptive writing. These sentences can
be further built upon by introducing subordinate conjunctions and learning to create complex sentences.

Amid the crystal water, mermaids glide amongst the colourful coral as sunlight fades beyond the horizon.

Further Tasks: Using the created sentences, withdraw the verb and any useful phrasing to explore the use of
participle phrases to begin sentences.

Gliding beneath the crystal water, mermaids sleekly swim amongst the coral as the sunlight sinks below the horizon.

Prepositional Poetry introduces students to prepositions and their function in writing. The knowledge gained through
this exploration can be transferred to other writing tasks; children can be encouraged to add further information to
sentences by adding a preposition or by varying the sentence beginning by starting with prepositions. It is a simple
task that creates colourful writing in a friendly, experimental environment for students to play around with and
manipulate language.

Other Grammar Poetry Tasks:

Use the image provided to make a list of nouns.

Adjective Poetry

Choose a noun from the list and think of words to describe the noun (colours, shapes, size) and participial adjectives
(running, swaying, coloured).

Trees

Leaning trees

Green trees

Swaying trees

Dancing trees

Tall trees

Old trees

Flowering trees

Adverbial Poetry

Using a noun from the list and think of verbs (actions) that relate to the noun. Then think of some words to describe
how, where or when the action is taking place.

Dolphins

Dance elegantly

Swim smoothly

Call happily

Jump playfully

Dive deeply
86
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Show, don’t Tell:


The purpose of the Show, don’t Tell lesson is developing the student’s ability to write descriptively. Children are
challenged to expand a word into a sentence or a sentence into a short paragraph, but they are not allowed to use
certain words from the original sentence. They must think of ways to describe what is happening so that the reader
can draw their own conclusions. They are leaving clues for the reader to solve:

“Don’t give them 4, give them 2+2.”


Ernst Lubitsch - Director
Show, don’t Tell sentences are a simple activity. Children are given one or two words and must create a sentence
about the two words; however, the words cannot be used in the sentence. Children will need to learn to show the
reader what is happening; by using clues, the reader should be able to determine what the sentence is about.

sunny park

Golden rays shone through the leafy trees as children ran around playing on the swings.

Show, don’t Tell paragraphs take an established sentence and turn it into a short paragraph. Certain words from the
original sentence are not allowed to be used; therefore, children need to think creatively about how they construct
meaning for their audience.

To begin with, children use guiding questions to


The boat sailed into a storm.
brainstorm ideas around the topic. The students use
the skills they have developed through sensory writing What can you see/hear/feel during a storm?
to use environmental clues to lead the reader where
they want to take them. Brainstorming vocabulary What would the sea and sky be like during a
words around the topic will help children to write a storm?
more detailed paragraph.

Once brainstorming is completed, children attempt to How would a crew react during a storm?
rewrite the sentence as a paragraph:

Example:

“The waves were crashing over the top of the determined crew. “Hoist the sails!” barked the captain. Thunder roared.
Lightning struck a tall mast close to the sail. Before the crew could get under cover it was pouring. Lightning lit the
dark grey sky. Then lightning struck the deck and the crew scrambled overboard. The deck was on fire. The crew was
stuck in the middle of the ocean with only the dim moonlight to guide them.” – 10-year-old girl

The teaching focus during these lessons should be on strong powerful verbs that create images in the readers head
as well as on sensory writing. Children should always be encouraged to explore and be creative to help them achieve
their intentions. Once children understand Show, don’t Tell, they can be prompted to add this in their own regular
writing tasks.

87
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Building Character Profiles


Developing a robust and detailed character can be quite difficult. This task ties together different elements to
explore that character. Find or draw a picture of your character then list their traits and appearance.

Traits Picture Appearance/Movement

The best characters are generally based on other characters or people in real life. They may have some similar traits,
appearances or react to similar situations in the same way. Students are to make connections with their character
and other characters, people in real life or even objects.

My Character…

is like _________________________
Hermoine Granger because _________________________________________________________
she is smart and selfless

is like _________________________
my mum because _________________________________________________________
she is kind and helpful

is like _________________________
the sun because _________________________________________________________
she brightens people’s days

This simile comparison can be broken down even further to create comparisons for different parts of the person. Not
all aspects of the character may be completed but is will help build the character’s profile and actions within a text.

My Character’s…

Face is like ____________________________ because ________________________________________________

Smile is like ___________________________ because ________________________________________________

Hands are like _________________________ because ________________________________________________

Arms are like __________________________ because ________________________________________________

Legs are like ___________________________ because ________________________________________________

Fingers are like _________________________ because ________________________________________________

Heart is like ____________________________ because ________________________________________________

Stare is like ____________________________ because ________________________________________________

Voice is like ____________________________ because ________________________________________________

Laugh is like ___________________________ because ________________________________________________

Hair is like _____________________________ because ________________________________________________

88
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Microscope sentences can also be used to zoom in on a character. Once again, using an image (either a picture or
drawing) students can choose a part of their character and slowly put them under the microscope. By exploring their
character in depth, they will create an understanding of what they are like and build vocabulary to use in various
types of writing.

hair
thin hair
thin wispy hair
thin wispy grey hair
thin wispy grey hair that’s slowly disappearing
beanie covering thin wispy grey hair that’s slowly disappearing
beanie covering thin wispy grey hair that’s slowly disappearing and a wrinkled face
beanie covering thin wispy grey hair that’s slowly disappearing and blue eyes on a wrinkled face
beanie covering thin wispy grey hair that’s slowly disappearing and blue eyes with a sparkle of hope on a wrinkled
face

After completing the character profile and building information, students can begin to write descriptions of their
characters by placing them in familiar and unfamiliar settings. By doing this, they will begin to understand how
different characters react to different situations and have an opportunity to play around with characters and
settings.

Sitting under the moonlight, with his tattered beanie covering his thin wispy hair, the man gazed despairingly into
the distance. Deep wrinkles covered his face, yet deep in his blue eyes there was a sparkle of hope.

The bright lights blinded him as loud music rang through his ears. Yet, he was unfazed. Slowly he hobbled past a
group of party-goers who gasped in shock at the deep crevices on his face and the wisps of grey hair that fell from
under his tattered beanie. What was he doing here…?

89
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Writing Conventions
Writing Conventions are simple grammar exercises to learn and develop skills to hone children’s writing
development. While the tasks are not essential to writing development, there are some benefits of reviewing a
systematic and conventional approach to grammar.

Writing Conventions is broken into three brief activities: Grammar, Editing & Vocabulary.

Grammar:
Grammar activities cover a range of basic parts of speech. The purpose of these activities is to help students
understand and explore the different features of sentences and how to use the different types of sentences. Tasks
begin with identifying types of sentences and progress to understanding parts that make up sentences; children
learn about subjects, verbs and objects and how to add description through adjectives and adverbs. Eventually
children explore the use of prepositions and subordinate conjunctions to create complex sentences. This process
goes from simple sentences to complex sentences while incorporating knowledge of parts of speech. This is not
intended to be an overload of grammar. Children need just enough so they can understand how to use, discuss and
manipulate language through grammar.

Editing:
Editing falls into two main categories; either identifying and correcting spelling mistakes in writing or adding missing
punctuation to sentences. Children refine their spelling and punctuation in their own writing all the time, but this
task allows students to put their editing skills to the test. Sometimes students can become lazy when editing their
own work and this simple task will give children the opportunity to showcase their understanding of sentence
boundaries and spelling.

Vocabulary:
Vocabulary is separated into two tasks. In the first task, children are given a word and must think of synonyms for
these words or phrases of words that will indicate that particular word. By working together, children can increase
their vocabulary knowledge and develop their Show, don’t Tell skills. The second task is a matching activity that
requires children to match words with their definitions, synonyms, antonyms or complete literary techniques. The
purpose of this activity is for children to build on their vocabulary and to expose them to new words that could be
transferred into their own writing.

90
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Project Writing
Project Writing is exactly what its name suggests; it is a writing task that is not dissimilar to a project. These tasks
take a lot of time to complete and take students through the entire writing process. Writing projects give students
the opportunity to showcase the writing skills they have developed so far and they can even turn their final piece
into a published book using multimedia devices or through using a create your own book proforma.

Writing projects require multiple planning lessons where the entire story is mapped out before writing commences.
Children are able to use their detailed story map to complete a first and second draft before publishing can begin.
These projects give students ample time during the prewriting stage and then teach them the purpose of the first
draft is to get their ideas out on paper. The second draft offers children the chance to revise their work and makes
changes to improve their initial attempt. After completion of the second draft, children are able to edit their work
and prepare for publishing. This drawn out process ensures that all aspects of becoming a writer are covered and
gives children the chance to put their skills to use.

Step 1: Exploring the topic & fluency writing

This is the initial introduction to the task. Children are given a general
theme and brainstorm ideas by completing six question prompts. This
allows the students to begin to explore the concept and helps them
gather ideas for writing. Following this, they briefly plan a story using the
5W’s and then have ten minutes to write a story on the topic. This first
piece of writing will be raw, but it gives them a starting point on which to
base their actual project. It’s a great idea for each story to be read out
loud so that ideas for plots can be noted by all students.

Step 2: Planning

The planning phase is where the story starts to come to life. This is essentially
a storyboarding task. The students begin by selecting a setting, characters and
some basic information about their story. They follow this up by working on
their orientation which is set out using the Once upon a time… structure that
is commonly used by Disney Pixar. Using this method allows the students to
introduce their characters who
receive a call or have an event
that alters their usual pattern of
life. This can then result in a
series of events unfolding until
the story is resolved.

Once the storyboarding is


completed, a timeline of the story
can be mapped out to allow the children to have a snapshot image of
how their story will unfold. This phase requires multiple lessons to
complete prior to writing.

91
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Step 3: First Draft

Students use their planning to write their first draft of the story.
This can be quite time consuming as there are multiple events
that are occurring. Once the first draft is completed, children
discuss their work with the teacher to determine how their
ideas could be stretched and where they need to add more
detail. The first draft is a focus on improving description, detail
and plot and therefore not too much emphasis is placed on
spelling errors.

Step 4: Second Draft

After discussing their first draft, the children should be ready to


make changes and improve their piece of writing. During the
second draft the children add missing details and improve the
flow of their plot. Once the second draft is complete, students are ready to polish up their writing by reviewing their
spelling and punctuation.

Step 5: Publishing

Once all drafting, revising and editing are complete, the students can publish their book in a multimodal format or
create their own picture book.

Example:
At sunset Captain Rose’s crew crashed on hard, bumpy rocks out at sea. They all landed on a broken, hard wooden plank, and
they didn’t know what was happening. The long wooden plank was heading south and then they landed on a lovely and peaceful
island. After a while, Captain Rose and her crew felt better but they had no idea where they were. They were searching for food
in the shipwreck but found nothing. Then along came a jungle girl. She was finding some brown coconuts on the green palm
trees. Then she saw a brown and wooden ship; she thought it was a coco cycle or a coco glide but it wasn’t any of those things. It
was something new.

Captain Rose and her brave crew got out of the wooden boat in fright. They saw a cave girl with sharp teeth and a bone in her
hair. Captain Rose and her crew screamed so loud the whole jungle could hear. Captain Rose was about to hit her, but then CoCo
said DON’T HURT me.

CoCo took them on her coco cycle. They were zooming really fast with their hair flying backwards with the breeze and the wind.
On the way they saw white, fluffy sheep and lambs and blue birds tweeting with delight. They were finally home. Coco’s tree
house was 100 feet tall and 50 storeys. The crew was amazed. CoCo let them look around the tree house. They saw fireflies as
lamps and lights and wood trunks as tables and feathers as pencils and leaves as paper. In the corner there were straw and
leaves as a bed and she had a golden ship with coconuts too.

They had a coconut party where they had to cover the place with coconuts. After an hour the place was covered in coconut juice.
The juice was clear white and the crew got wet too. CoCo told them to stay there while she was going to hunt some food for
dinner. CoCo went out in the dark night with her firefly flashlight. She saw a clean white chicken so she was going to get it. She
was running wild like a crazy bull and stuck out her fangs, but then suddenly she got stuck in a trap. Captain Pickle and his army
came marching out of the bushes. CoCo was really crazy when she got caught. The cage had iron bars and they were very hard.
Captain Rose’s crew were wondering when CoCo was going to be back. While Captain Rose was looking at the bedrooms, Jack
with the red banana cap was exiting the treehouse with his own flashlight.

Jack was going out in the deep dark forest and saw a shadow near a campsite. He also heard whispering. He was scared, so he
hid behind the dark green bush and poked out of the bush and saw CoCo in a cage with iron bars. He could see how crazy she was
in that cage and he was wandering if Pickles was actually alive. Little mice were hiding in the same bush as Jack was and they
were growling at Captain while Jack was just staring at crazy CoCo. Then one of the mice Squeaked then they all started to
CHARGE IN and eat Captain Pickle. Squeaker caught the key and unlocked CoCo. CoCo thought Jack saved her and with a smile on
her face Jack’s cheeks went red. Then they both walked back to the treehouse and Captain Rose asked what’s for dinner? Then
CoCo had a funny grin.

8-year-old girl

92
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Spelling & Handwriting


It’s important to remember that spelling and handwriting are tools of the overall process of writing. Like grammar
and punctuation, they formulate an important part of text construction. Spelling and handwriting shouldn’t only be
taught in isolation, it is essential that they are dealt with within the context of student writing.

Writing is a communication tool. Students need to understand that they are writing for an audience; someone is
going to read and interpret their writing and therefore their message needs to be clear and legible. Handwriting and
spelling are the essential tools to ensure the message in their writing can be decoded by the reader.

When writing, and in particular drafting, we don’t want children to become caught up with the processes of spelling;
this is especially important as we encourage the use of sophisticated vocabulary which means unfamiliar words that
can result in invented spelling to ensure the continual flow of the writing process. Encouraging invented spelling is
not sending the message ‘spelling doesn’t matter,’ but rather, ‘you’re a writer!’ (Serravallo, 2017). Spelling can be
dealt with in the revising and editing phase of the writing process.

From a teaching perspective, spelling errors need to be monitored to determine if there are patterns emerging or
severe difficulties with spelling. If this is the case, then a specialised spelling focus may need to be designed and
implemented by the teacher. However, if spelling errors fall in the developmental range, then a simple strategy to fix
the spelling error can be applied. An effective method of reviewing spelling with the context of writing is to use a
Spelling Analysis Grid – this would be an effective tool to use if a student presents with a piece of writing that has a
high degree of spelling errors. Using this grid should help teachers identify gaps or needs with spelling development.
Table 3: Spelling Error Analysis (adapted from Writing Map of Development, Department of Education WA, 2013)

Reasonable Errors with Errors associated


Errors with hearing Reversal and Unrelated/other
Error Correction Phonetic sequential letter with word
sounds in words repetition errors errors
Alternative patterns meaning
fling flying √
intill until √ √

As students develop their fine motor skills, their writing becomes more and more legible. Stressing the importance
of neat and presentable writing that can be interpreted so that a message can be conveyed is the easiest way to
address writing needs. If students fail to develop a neat and consistent personal style that enables easy decoding,
then having students read back their work a few weeks later should help them to see how their message is being lost
due to their hand writing. Students who have difficulty formulating letters with a consistent style and legibility may
require extra, outside assistance to strengthen their development in this area.

It is important to remember that writing provides the context for spelling and handwriting development
(Department of Education WA, 2013). They are tools that make up part of the process of writing. Improved spelling
will aid a writer, but will not make them a proficient writer unless all their tools are being used simultaneously to
create their texts. Classrooms that provide children with regular opportunities to express themselves on paper,
without feeling too constrained for correct spelling and proper handwriting, also help children understand that
writing has real purpose (Graves, 1983).

93
Spelling Error Analysis Sheet

SI = Self-identified SC = Self-corrected
Name: Date: Text: AI = Assisted identification AC = Assisted correction
TI = Teacher-identified TC = Teacher-corrected

Errors with Errors with Reversal Errors


Reasonable
sequential hearing and associated Unrelated/
Error Correction Phonetic Comments
letter sounds in repetition with word other errors
Alternative
patterns words errors meaning
SI/AI/TI SC/ACI/TC

SI/AI/TI SC/ACI/TC
Simple Strategies: writing that works

94
SI/AI/TI SC/ACI/TC

SI/AI/TI SC/ACI/TC

SI/AI/TI SC/ACI/TC

SI/AI/TI SC/ACI/TC

SI/AI/TI SC/ACI/TC
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Drawing for Writing


The importance of drawing in writing cannot be undersold. Drawing is an essential tool that allows children to
explore ideas, build prior knowledge and piece their story together.

‘A picture creates 1000 words´

By drawing prior to writing, children are engaging in their story. They are mapping out the outline and thinking about
the important features such as characters, setting and emotions. Drawing sparks their imagination and is the
gateway into storytelling. Prior to writing, drawn images can be used to orally tell the story. Using these strategies,
children learn how their story will unfold prior to putting pen to paper.

Depending on the task, the quality of drawing will differ. For most tasks, teachers should encourage a quality,
detailed drawing accompanied by labels and captions. Placing this information out on the page allows students to
release it from their working memory so they can refer to it later as they write. When writing commences, they will
have a clearer mind to focus on the goals and intentions of the lesson rather than trying to retain creative
information. In some cases, where limited preparation time is provided, rough sketches would suffice. Organising
opportunities to create both rough sketches and quality, detailed drawings will be important for overall
development in the planning phase of writing.

A quality, detailed picture must have the following:

 Lots of details
 Outlining
 Neat
 Lots of colour
 Time taken
 Labels
 Caption

95
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Simple Planning Techniques


When it comes to planning writing, there are various tools and strategies children can use to get their ideas out and
on to paper before they begin. This is an important step, but one that students like to avoid. By giving them a range
of tools or graphic organisers to use, they will be able to jot down a map for their writing. These tools will become
invaluable as they progress through school.

Children cannot be expected to arrive in classrooms with these tools for planning; they must be taught. Below are a
few simple planning tools that children can use when planning for any writing task.

Beginning – middle – end: children plan the outline of their story by coming up with a rough outline of the events in
their story.

Beginning Middle End

Timeline: The outline of events can be labelled on a line to map out the skeleton of the story. Although similar to the
above technique, it allows for more detail and freedom in the planning stage.

Mind map: The mind map is a simple planning tool. Children place any ideas or thoughts about their writing around
the central theme. This can be built on as ideas are explored. It gives multiple options for story writing where both
plot and characters can be established.

Fight-separate Mystery island

2 girls - friends Boat-sea-storm

Lost

96
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Story sequence: The story sequence looks at the orientation-complication-resolution. It also allows for notes to be
made about setting or character feelings as the story evolves.

Orientation: Complication/Problem: Resolution/Solution:

Setting:
Setting: Setting:
Characters:

Story Elements: The story elements planner is a versatile utensil for writing; it can be used in a variety of ways. One
method is to give each box a different focus for the story E.g. Characters-setting-timeline-ideas.

Characters Setting

Story
Elements

Problem Key Events Solution

The T-Chart: The T-Chart is a useful tool to compare different information. This is ideal for character comparisons.

Protagonist (Hero) Antagonist (Villain)

97
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Name: _____________ B-M-E Chart

Beginning
Middle
End

98
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Name: _____________ Timeline

99
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Name: _____________ Mind Map

No
text

No
text
No No
text text

100
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Name: _____________
Story Sequence
Planning Illustration
Orientation: When? Where?
Characters:

Setting:

Problem:

Setting:

Solution:

Setting:

101
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Name: _____________

Elements
Story
Problem

Characters
Key Events

Setting
Solution

102
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Name: _____________ T-Chart

103
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Goal 1 Goal 2 Goal 3 Goal 4


Goal Focus:
fluency punctuation/sense spell/handwriting describe/vocab.

Name: ____________________ Date: ____________________

Editing: Punctuation Spelling Sense Vocabulary

Feedback:

planning organistation editing writing fluency message (sense)


spelling punctuation grammar handwriting description vocabulary

104
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Final Note
The suggested activities in this document are intended to be used as guidelines to improve writing in your classroom.
Writing is a complex and evolving task; use the samples created by students to direct your teaching and push their
learning.

105
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Teacher Notes:

106
Simple Strategies: writing that works

References
Biancarosa, G., and Snow, C. (2004). Reading next—A vision for action and research in middle and high school
literacy: A report to Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellence in Education.
Department of Education WA (2013). First Steps. Writing Map of Development. Department of Education WA
Department of Education WA (2013). First Steps. Writing Resource Book. Department of Education WA
Fearn, L., & Farnan, N. (2005). An investigation of the influence of teaching grammar in writing to accomplish an
influence on writing. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association,
Montreal, Canada.
Ferretti, R. P., MacArthur, C. A., & Dowdy, N. S. (2000). The effects of an elaborated goal on the persuasive writing of
students with learning disabilities and their normally achieving peers. Journal of Educational Psychology
Fitzgerald, J., and Shanahan, T. (2000). Reading and writing relations and their development. Educational
Psychologist
Graham, S. (2006). Strategy instruction and the teaching of writing: A meta-analysis. In C. MacArthur, S. Graham, & J.
Fitzgerald (Eds.), Handbook of writing research (pp. 187–207). New York: Guilford
Graham, S., & Harris, K. (2005). Writing better. Baltimore, MD: Brookes.
Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007). Effective Strategies to Improve Writing of Adolescents in Middle and High Schools. A
Report to Carnegie Corporation of New York. [ONLINE] Available at:
http://carnegie.org/fileadmin/Media/Publications/PDF/writingnext.pdf . [Accessed 4 January 2018].
Graham, S., & Hebert, H. (2010). Evidence for How Writing Can Improve Reading. A Report to Carnegie Corporation of
New York. [ONLINE] Available at:
http://carnegie.org/fileadmin/Media/Publications/WritingToRead_01.pdf . [Accessed 4 January 2018].
Graves, D. (1983). Writing: Teachers & Children at Work. Heinemann
Graves, D. (1994). A Fresh Look at Writing. Heinemann
Hillocks, G., Jr. (1982). The interaction of instruction, teacher comment, and revision in teaching the composing
process. Research in the Teaching of English
Klein, P. (1999). Reopening inquiry into cognitive processes in writing-to-learn. Educational Psychology Review
Marie Rippel. 2018. All About Learning Press. [ONLINE] Available at: https://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/using-
dictation-to-improve-spelling/. [Accessed 20 January 2018].
Mills, E. (1974). Children’s Literature & Teaching Written Composition. Elementary English, 51, 971-973
Myhill, D. & Jones, S. (2006) Patterns and Processes: the linguistic characteristics composing processes of secondary
school writers. Technical Report RES-000-23-0208 to the Economic and Social Research Council
Nelson, N., and Calfee, R. (1998). The reading-writing connection. In N. Nelson and R. Calfee (Eds.), Ninety-seventh
yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education (Part II, pp. 1–52). Chicago, IL: National Society for the
Study of Education.
Nunan, D. (1991). Language Teaching Methodology. A Textbook for Teachers. Prentice Hall.
Nunan, D. (2001). Second English Teaching and Learning. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.
Serravallo, J. (2017). The Writing Strategies Book: your everything guide to developing skilled writers. Portsmouth,
NH. Heinemann
Shanahan, T. (2006). Relations among oral language, reading, and writing development. In C. MacArthur, S. Graham,
and J. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Handbook of writing research (pp. 171–183). New York, NY: Guilford.
Stanley, G. (2004). Approaches to Process Writing. [ONLINE] Available at:
https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/approaches-process-writing. [Accessed 4 January 2018].
107
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Steve Peha, s. (2018). TTMS: Services -- Education Technology Professional Development Consulting Workshops
Curriculum Testing Software Internet. [online] Ttms.org. Available at:
https://www.ttms.org/steve_peha/steve_peha.htm [Accessed 24 Jan. 2018].
Tierney, R., and Shanahan, T. (1991). Research on the reading-writing relationship: Interactions, transactions, and
outcomes. In R. Barr, M. Kamil, P. Mosenthal, and D. Pearson (Eds.), The handbook of reading research (Vol. 2; pp.
246–280). New York, NY: Longman
Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in Society. The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press
Weber, W. R., and Henderson, E. H. (1989). A computer-based program of word study: Effects on reading and
spelling. Reading Psychology
White R & V Arndt (1991) Process Writing. Longman
Zemelman, S., Harvey, D., and Hyde, A. (2012) Best Practice, Fourth Edition. Heinemann

108
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Appendix - Persuasive Writing


In a verbal setting, children are quite competent at expressing their opinions about their wants and needs. As they
have grown, they have been constantly asked their thoughts about different experiences and situations. Giving
opinions and thoughts is a natural task for children; however, learning how to articulate and support these thoughts
in the written form can be quite daunting for both the child and the teacher.

Developing Writing Tasks:

The Opinion Sentence:


The opinion sentence is a basic introduction to persuasive writing. The objective of this task is to familiarise children
with stating their belief and then supporting it with a reason. Often, children are overloaded with expectations and
not given the opportunity to grasp and understand concepts. There is no doubt that persuasive writing is one of the
more difficult areas to master, yet it is the form of writing that children will need to use the most as they progress
through school and into the workplace. Therefore, a solid understanding and foundation needs to be set.

This task is quite simple; using the ‘I believe…’ and ‘because…’ prompts children give their thoughts on a topic. The
topics range from personal choices or preferences into community-based concerns and eventually global issues.
Exposing children to giving opinions on a range of topics will help them develop the skills required as they progress
with their persuasive writing.

I believe… Because…

What is the best pet?

Working at the sentence level allows teachers to simplify the task and ensure that the intention of the lesson is clear
and the criteria for success is evident. Feedback at such a simple level makes it easy for children to adjust their work
to achieve the goals of the lesson. Stating a position and supporting it with a reason is the cornerstone of persuasive
writing. This task sets children on the initial path. Relating back to this task as learning moves into paragraphs allows
children to build on prior knowledge and mastered skills.

During this task, teachers should focus on ensuring children make their opinion clear.

As always with developing writing tasks, there is a focus on editing and revision. The goal focus for this level is simply
to ensure that there is punctuation and that the written work makes sense. Once sentences have been constructed,
a simple follow on task can be completed. ‘Say it stronger’ involves an evaluation of the modality used and perhaps
the precision given in the sentences. Tackling modality within the context of their own work allows students to make
sense of the concept and endeavour to implement it with future writing tasks.

Further topics are provided so that more able students can continue to explore their ability to make a point and back
it up with reasoning.

An Example:

1. I believe that dogs make the best pet because they are friendly.

2. Dogs are the best pets because they are friendly and fun.

3. Dogs are the best pets in the entire world because they are friendly, fun and are great company. (Say it
Stronger)
109
Simple Strategies: writing that works

The Opinion Paragraph:


The Opinion Paragraph is the first stepping stone towards creating effective and coherent persuasive texts. There are
a range of formula techniques to help children understand the structure of the persuasive a paragraph – this is a
structure they will continue to use and apply as they progress through school and into the later stages of essay
writing; therefore, it is important that this structure is taught effectively and in a way that allows students to build
on their prior knowledge.

To build on the ‘I believe’ sentence, the O-R-E-O paragraph structure allows for an easy transition between the basic
sentence and then lead to the more advanced persuasive structures. Most teachers would be familiar with the O-R-
E-O structure:

Opinion Do you agree or disagree with this topic?


This is essentially the ‘I believe’ part of the paragraph. Students should
allow the reader to understand their opinion and address the topic in this
sentence – this is the pathway to the topic sentence.

Reason Why do you feel this way?


This is the ‘because’. Using the same skills from the previous level,
students are stating the main reason for their opinion. They are giving a
reason for their point of view.

Explain Why is this good/bad?


Students need to learn to explain why their reason is valid and worth
considering. At this level, they need to provide explanations that support
their reason.

Opinion - Restated Say it Stronger!


Students need to re-state their opinion and explore an increase in
modality. It may also include a call to action.

The Opinion Paragraph it the stepping stone to sophisticated persuasive writing. While it can seem daunting at first,
it is purely building on the previous level. If the ‘Opinion Sentence’ level is completed, children are building in the
explanation stage of their writing. The Opinion and Reason should be a relatively easy concept for students to apply,
which means the focus of the lesson is developing their ability to explain the thinking behind their reason.

The Opinion Paragraph offers one topic. A modality vocabulary list is provided for students to draw on. As always,
the first step forward is the planning phase. Children need to understand that knowledge is the power base for
writing and therefore they need to have explored ideas that they could use in their writing; here, students list all the
reasons why they agree or disagree with the topic. Then, using pictures to elicit deeper thinking, children work their
way through the planning scaffold by drawing diagrams, labelling and writing captions to capture their thinking
towards the topic. Once completed, students will have a mapped-out response to the topic. They will not need to
create their reasoning as they work through the topic which will free their minds to focus on the conventions of
writing and their persuasive techniques to create a paragraph that states their opinion and supports it with
reasoning and an explanation. Children should be exploring the use of high modality words to enhance their writing
at this level so that when whole text construction is required, they are able to seamlessly transition their knowledge
and skills at a more sophisticated level.

110
Simple Strategies: writing that works

The Layout:

Ideas
Children Should wear hats…
in many
certainly require
cases
surely absolutely must

always definitely is

essential never have to

extremely continually will not


Opinion Reason
(Do you agree or disagree with the topic?) (Why do you feel this way?)

Explain Opinion Restated


(Why this is a good/bad topic? – use real world examples) (State your position strongly!)

Children should wear hats (opinion). This is because they protect them from the sun (reason). The sun has strong
UV rays which can cause damage to children’s skin (explain). It is important that every child in Australia wears a
hat (opinion -restated).

111
Simple Strategies: writing that works

The Persuasive Paragraph:


The Persuasive Paragraph introduces students to the most common structure of persuasive writing that they will
continue throughout the remainder of their school life. It is the body paragraph of a persuasive composition and
although there are many variations of formulas used across schools, the TEEL paragraph structure is one of the most
robust and easily adaptable structures for expository writing tasks. The TEEL structure follows on from the
knowledge gained in the earlier steps which helps students to apply knowledge and build on prior experiences. As
previous steps and skills should have been achieved, the teacher can focus on ensuring that reasoning and
explanations are strengthened by proof. The TEEL structure is as follows:

Topic Sentence This sentence combines the opinion and reason from the opinion
paragraph to create a sentence that addresses the topic. By reading this
sentence, the reader will be aware of the reason why the composer does
or doesn’t support the topic.

Explain Students continue to learn to explain why their reason is valid and worth
considering. Their explanation needs to look at why their reason is
important.

Evidence Evidence is the conclusive evidence that shows proof as to why the reason
and explanation are given. Evidence can come in multiple forms; it could
be a quote from an expert, a real-life example or case study or evidence
based on facts.

Link Students need to re-state their opinion and reasoning in relation to the
topic while continuing to explore an increase in modality.

The benefit of the TEEL structure is that it is the next logical step from the Opinion Paragraph. It allows the students
to use their prior knowledge and focus their attention on the providing of evidence to support their arguments.

The familiarity of earlier tasks is kept which enables students to complete the tasks with a level of independence.
The students are provided with a topic and need to brainstorm possible ideas that they can use to form and support
an opinion. Once their opinion is formulated, they are required to plan their reasoning, explanations and evidence
through the use of diagrams, labels and captions. Planning is the cornerstone of effective persuasive writing. With
the planning clearly set, students can engage and focus on their responsibility to create a coherent and elaborate
piece of persuasive writing.

An Example:

For children to remain safe when outside in the sun, they must wear hats (topic sentence). Hats provide children
with protection from the sun. The sun has powerful UV rays which can cause sun burn, or, in severe cases, skin
cancer (Explain). A national study in to the leading cause of death in young Australians in 2017 showed that skin
cancer was the number one killer. Frederick Petersen from the Cancer Council said that “Taking precautions when
outside, such as wearing a hat and applying sun-cream, is the most effective way to protect against the harmful
energy of the sun.” (Evidence). Hats are important to ensure that children remain safe and healthy when outside
in the sun (Link).

112
Simple Strategies: writing that works

The Layout:

Ideas
Children Should wear hats…
in many
certainly require
cases
surely absolutely must

always definitely is

essential never have to

extremely continually will not


Topic Sentence Explain
(Do you agree or disagree with the topic? Why?) (Why is this important?)

Evidence Link
(What is your proof? – Quote – Fact – Case Study) (State your position strongly!)

113
Simple Strategies: writing that works

The Opening Paragraph:


Persuasive writing requires a strong opening to engage the reader and to help the students align the readers’
position with that of the one they have taken. Similar to other persuasive paragraphs, there is a simple layout to
follow to draw the reader in, and clearly state the position taken. The opening paragraph uses techniques and
structures covered in developing and exploring persuasive writing. Combining these strategies creates a solid and
engaging opening paragraph.

The opening paragraph task provides students with a topic. They can then explore both sides of the argument by
listing reasons for and against the topic and
The Opening Paragraph
drawing pictures related to the topic. Exploring
Topic: Zoos are good for animals
both sides of the topic is essential as it will help
Devices Hooks Structure
determine which position is stronger and easier
Rhetorical Question 1 Use a device to hook
to write about, but also, exploring the other side
of the argument allows for counter-arguments to Exaggeration 2 Thesis (address issue)

be considered.
Facts 3 Support Thesis (2-3 reasons)

Once the planning is completed, students can Scenario 4 Call to Action (gentle)
decide on a hook they will use to draw the
Emotive or Inclusive
5 Review your work
reader in to their text. It might be a singular Language

device or a combination of a couple. It is a good For Against

idea to try a few hooks before deciding on which - zoo help protect endangered animals - it’s cruel to keep living creatures locked
up
one to use.

After the hook, students need to write a thesis


Design a poster showing your position:
statement. This is a fancy word used to mean
state their position. This is where the student
addresses the topic to be discussed and indicates
their standing on the topic. Students should
avoid using phrases such as ‘I strongly believe’
and try to demonstrate their position using more
sophisticated language.

Following the rule of three, students can then select the three strongest reasons why they believe their position on
the argument is the correct one. These reasons can be used in body paragraphs (O-R-E-O or TEEL) if creating an
entire text.

The paragraph is completed with a gentle call to action. A sentence that reconfirms that the issue is important and
the writer’s position must be acted upon.

The Conclusion:
Writing a conclusion for a persuasive text can be difficult. Conclusions should connect with the introduction and
body of the text, give a sense of completion and leave the reader with something to think about or consider. The
‘Three S’ conclusion is an easy and effective method to conclude a persuasive text.
Signal Use a signal – either a connective or statement to show that the end is
near.
Summary Give an overview of the position in relation to the thesis statement.

Slogan End with a recommendation to change the situation or a prediction of


what will happen if it continues. Then a call to action is a good way to end
a text.

114
Simple Strategies: writing that works

The Layout:

The Opening Paragraph


Topic:
Devices Hooks Structure
Rhetorical Question 1 Use a device to hook

Exaggeration 2 Thesis (address issue)

Facts 3 Support Thesis (2-3 reasons)

Scenario 4 Call to Action (gentle)


Emotive or Inclusive
Language
5 Review your work
For Against

Design a poster showing your position:

115
Simple Strategies: writing that works

Exploring Writing Tasks:

Persuasive Devices:
Like all writing styles, persuasive texts come with their own particular techniques that assist the writer to provide a
message in their writing. The purpose of a persuasive text is to offer an opinion that is supported by evidence so that
the reader will understand and side with that opinion. In order to achieve this, the writer needs to consider their
word choices and phrases to not only engage the reader but reach them and alter their way of thinking.
Understanding how to effectively use language devices and their role in persuasive writing dramatically improves
student confidence and the quality of their writing.

The use of writing devices in any context should be seen as an opportunity to explore the artistic and creative side of
language. Children need to feel that any offering is acceptable and that they are encouraged to discover their own
voice in the written form. Examples of students’ writing should be considered as models to redirect future teaching.
Using effective feedback and evaluating performance to direct teaching will enhance writing outcomes.

The persuasive devices technique not only introduces students to different techniques, but also requires them to
begin to think about the audience that they are addressing. Knowing who will be reading your persuasive piece helps
direct the language choices that are made.

This task has a similar set up to ‘The Opinion Sentence’. The familiarity will make the transition to a deeper
persuasive technique easier. Ideally, in this situation, children are being taught how to create a ‘hook’ for their
reader – a way to connect the reader with the message and opinion they are trying to create. Developing a personal
connection with the reader will further the chances of the written message being well received. Focusing on this skill
at just the sentence level enables students to develop their understanding of persuasive devices rather than the
stress of an entire text. Once they are competent – this skill can easily be transferred into their whole text
construction.

Children take a position on the prompts provided then try to use one of the provided persuasive devices to create a
hook for their reader.

Emotive Language the use of words that appeal to the reader’s emotions to create a response
in the way the author intended

Inclusive Language the deliberate use of language to make the reader feel a part of the
problem or solution – to make them feel important or like they can make a
difference

Rhetorical Question a question posed to the reader to get them to think deeply about a topic or
situation – it does not require a response but is used to engage the reader

Exaggeration an over-the-top statement or fact used to wow the reader or show the
severity of a situation

Facts in persuasive writing, facts are a composer’s best friend – a fact is a fact –
it cannot be ignored which strengthens the writer’s position

Scenario is a simple technique used to pose a situation to the audience to engage


them and make them connect with the topic of a discussion

These techniques, although simple, can be quite powerful when used correctly. Exploring these concepts in isolation
will then allow children to connect with them and apply the devices when creating a complete persuasive text.
116
Simple Strategies: writing that works

In this task, children are provided with different persuasive techniques and topics. The students will select a chosen
device and apply it to the topic. Depending on current level of understanding and devices taught, this could be
teacher or student directed. As students become adept at using these techniques, multiple devices could be used to
enhance writing. Further to this, combining a persuasive device with an ‘I believe’ sentence can help students begin
to combine the skills of persuasive writing and create more advanced texts. Exploring this combination in this
environment means it is being developed step by step in a controlled arena.

Question Exaggerate Fact Scenario Emotion Inclusion

Should ball games only be played outside?

Example of progressions:

1. A broken vase and shattered glass, would you like to be responsible for this mess? (rhetorical question &
inclusion)

2. Your mother walks in to find you on the floor writhing in pain with blood pooling on the ground as the ball
you were chasing rolls down the hall. It shouldn’t be a surprise as national data shows more than 80% of
trips to the emergency ward are a result of ball games inside the house. (scenario, emotion, inclusion,
exaggeration & fact)

3. Your mother walks in to find you on the floor writhing in pain with blood pooling on the ground as the ball
you were chasing rolls down the hall. It shouldn’t be a surprise as national data shows more than 80% of
trips to the emergency ward are a result of ball games inside the house. All ball games should be banned
from being played inside because it will result in severe and unnecessary injuries. (devices combined with ‘I
believe’ sentence)

117
Writing Fluency

Teacher Notes:

118