Improving student writing: modelling

September 21, 2008

Do you need some help with improving your students’ achievement in writing? Here is one strategy¬† for modelling the requirements of particular genres that will contribute to student success. The sample document below is intended to be put on a school’s intranet for ease of student access.

Model exposition (OpEd piece)

Further details about how this model can be used are provided below.

Contextual information

Preparing students to write effectively in a particular genre (or text type) involves a range of activities, including:

  • understanding the purpose of the writing
  • generating and developing subject matter to write about
  • understanding the roles and relationships involved in the writing, i.e. what is the writer’s role and for whom are they writing?
  • explicit teaching of the structure and language demands of the writing task
  • explicit teaching of the thinking processes involved in composing within a particular genre.

This knowledge and understanding is commonly developed through strategies such as:

  • immersing students in examples of the required style of writing
  • modelling and joint construction
  • guided and independent practice
  • peer and self reflection.

Background information

The interactive document attached is an example of one on-line resource that teachers can make available to students. It is based on an analytical exposition meant for older students – but the idea can be adapted for any age (pre-school upward) and any genre. While the model could be printed out in hard copy form, it is designed to by read on screen.

Some teachers claim that the document is too long and complex. However, a few things need to be kept in mind. Firstly, it is not designed as a standalone document. It assumes that students have been participating in a variety of activities to develop their knowledge and understanding of the required genre. Thus, it acts as a summary of information already taught and, hopefully, learned. Secondly, it is not meant to be read in one sitting. The hyperlinks are provided so that students can move directly to those bits of information they require at a particular moment in time. It is, therefore, more like a resource package that provides just-in-time information for students. Finally, the model provided relates to work done in the last couple of years of schooling when the length and depth of written tasks has increased. For younger students, the model could be much shorter – because the length of writing tasks is also shorter.

Need help?

If you want to know more, or would like help developing some of these models, contact:

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