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Masters in Educational Practice: Literacy


Creating best practice


Developing writing

Writing is the most complex and codified of the language processes. In short, if a child does not have opportunities to develop their language through and in extending their spoken language repertoire, then it is unlikely that they will be able to demonstrate those skills in their writing. Writing skills, though, are not the same as spoken language and further focus on the specifics of writing are needed.

Activity 3.11

Consider the six text types found here. These types of non-fiction text are found in Developing higher-order literacy skills across the curriculum (external link).

Look back at Activity 3.4, then consider the following questions.

  • What types of writing do learners do in your subject?
  • For what purposes do they write?
  • Are learners given explicit guidance regarding form, structure, purpose and vocabulary?
  • How could learners’ skills be developed as well as used in your lessons?
  • What may help them produced better, more purposeful pieces of writing within your subject?

As with reading, numerous approaches to developing learners’ writing skills are used to great success. These include the following.

Shared writing

In shared writing, the process of writing a text is exposed, modelled and negotiated by the teacher and the class. The process of writing a text follows a number of stages: 

  • 'interaction, to involve the children as writers 
  • constant re-reading as the text grows, to check that the writing 'sounds right', for accuracy, as well as maintaining 'flow'
  • creating the whole text, over a number of days 
  • some 'demonstration' where the teacher models a new or difficult aspect of writing 
  • constant generation of ideas, as 'our first thought is not always our best' 
  • constant 'judging' which ideas work 'best', considering the impact on the reader
  • both the teacher and the children 'talking like writers' (external link).

A very useful example of Pie Corbett at work can be found in the video found below. Further videos can be accessed on the Talk for Writing website (external link) and on the Pie Corbett Videos Pinterest board (external link).  

Writing frames

The purpose of writing frames is to provide support for learners’ writing. Writing frames can include sentence starters, vocabulary boxes, linking phrases, key 'ingredients' or content areas, skeletons and so on. Writing frames perform a number of support functions. They allow learners to focus on organising their thoughts rather than worry about writing, but also familiarise them with the structures and conventions and so on of writing. It is important to remember that writing frames should offer less and less support until the learner is writing independently. A useful explanation can be found in the document An approach to scaffolding children's non-fiction writing: the use of writing frames (external link) by David Wray and Maureen Lewis.

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