Modelling Writing

 How does modelling the writing process support students’ writing composition?

How would we teach an alien how to bake a carrot cake?

  • Give them an oven and train them how to use it?
  • Give them a list of ingredients?
  • Give them a clear and understandable recipe?
  • Explain to them what a delicious carrot cake should taste like?

 The outcome? It is highly unlikely that they would be able to bake a cake like the one pictured below.

Why not?

  • They do not know what the finished product should look like.
  • They have not watched an expert go through the process of baking and decorating a carrot cake.

This is a good analogy for asking students to produce a piece of extended writing.  We often do all of the following:

  • Give them an oven and train them how to use it? Like giving students the basics ‘tools’ such as a pen, paper and basic literacy skills.
  • Give them a list of ingredients? Key vocabulary and a list of conjunctions
  • Give them a clear and understandable recipe? A writing structure
  • Explain to them what a delicious carrot cake should taste like? Success criteria

 Reflection Point 1

Despite the fact that we do all of the above, writing outcomes do not always demonstrate student’s progress.

Why not?

Creating Your Own Modelled Texts – Key Principles

  • Little and often.A paragraph, sometimes even a single sentence, is usually enough to use as a model. Too long and students get too caught up in the meaning and not the process.
  • Identify the key compositional skill, in which you want the students to have an insight = ‘How do I…?’
  • Limit yourself to 10-15 minutes preparation time.
  • Create a text that all students can learn from. Pitch slightly above the current outcomes of your most able writers.
  • During and After Composition – Review
    • What did you find difficult when composing the text?
    • What might different students in your class find difficult?
    • Which insights will you share with your class?
    • Have you used anything to help you compose the text?
    • Which resources are students able to access during the writing process?
    • Create and adapt the resources to best support writers of different abilities in your class.
  • Identify which section of the text you will write up in advance.
  • Identify the best point to start ‘modelling’ the text.
  • Consider how colour can help to emphasise key teaching points.

Enhanced Model

  • Model the handwriting outlined in your school policy.
  • Include some of the key errors and misconceptions currently presenting in your class.
  • Include some vocabulary extension, which students can see applied in context.
  • Include some of the key spellings for your year group / spellings patterns that have recently been investigated (with or without errors).

Modelling Writing with Your Class – Key Principles

  • Use the flip chart, as students then see ‘writing’ the way we expect them to present it, rather than a typed model. Composing on the computer is quite a different skill from composing on paper.
  • Read the prepared text together as ‘readers’.
  • Deconstruct the prepared text, making explicit the insights you gained from creating the text.
    • Target specific students / groups of students to engage with particular teaching points.
    • Explain how you overcame challenges.
  • Construct the next short section of the text, asking the students key questions, so they too ‘have a go’ at putting themselves in the right frame of mind for writing composition. This can work well with or without mini whiteboards.
    • Show the students how you use particular resources to help you compose text.
    • Think aloud whilst writing.
  • Model how you approach the spelling of unfamiliar words during composition.
  • Use the learning wall to display the modelled examples for students to reference during the composition process.

Enhanced Model

  • Build your bank of ‘insight strategies’
  • Display relevant images alongside text on the Learning Wall, to support less able and EAL writers with the context and content.
  • Provide a selection of vocabulary options for words where students’ bank is limited.
  • Annotate the text with a few key teaching points.

We hope you have found this free content useful.

However, you may not even like carrot cake and might fancy making a chocolate cake instead.  What if you are really craving a stir fry and don’t know where to start?    The Writing Web would like to talk to you about how our series of writing prompts can support every writer in composing text for their own audiences and purposes.