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Effective writing instruction for all students

how to differentiate writing instruction and effective writing instruction involves teaching systematic strategies
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Ministry of Education Printed on recycled paper ISBN 0-7794-8184-4 04-319 © Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2005Overview of Effective Instruction in Writing Introduction Readers and writers are involved in similar activities. Readers create meaning for groups of words based on their knowledge and experiences. Writers take ideas, thoughts, and emotions and transfer them onto paper (or a computer screen) using their knowledge of language conventions and the writing process to create meaningful text. These activities are embedded in all aspects of the curriculum. Since both reading and writing focus on meaning, development in one reinforces progress in the other: students learn to read and write better “The interconnectedness when the two processes are linked. As in teaching reading, writing of reading and writing teachers use a balance of modelling, direct instruction, guided instruc- is profound and tion, and facilitation of students’ independent learning and practice. inescapable … Fragmenting these Critical literacy plays an important part in both reading and writing. complex literacy It encourages students to become actively engaged with the text as they processes interferes make connections to their prior knowledge, other texts, and the world with the greatest goal around them. It also encourages them to move beyond the text as they ask of literacy education – questions about the author’s purpose and make inferences, evaluations, the construction of and judgements. meaning from and through text. Using Writing is a powerful instrument for students to use to express their reading and writing thoughts, feelings, and judgements about what they have read, seen, together in harmonious or experienced. As students continue to develop an understanding concert enables learners of the writing process; the elements of writing; text forms, genres, to draw on these and formats; and technology, they are able to express themselves complementary more confidently and effectively. processes at the same Teachers use their professional judgement and careful observation in time as they work to order to provide explicit instruction that will support students as they construct meaning.” become effective writers. (Fountas and Pinnell, 2001, p. vi) Because of the interconnectedness of reading and writing, this guide builds on material already presented in A Guide to Effective Instruction in Reading, Overview of Effective Instruction in Writing 1.3Kindergarten to Grade 3 (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2003; This guide builds on material hereafter referred to as the Guide to Effective Instruction in Reading presented in A Guide to or, simply, the reading instruction guide). For example, Chapter 3, Effective Instruction in “Oral Language and Reading”, explains oral language development Reading, Kindergarten to and its relationship to reading and writing, while Chapter 10, Grade 3, 2003, which is often “The Role of Writing in Reading Instruction”, addresses the referred to in this document interrelatedness of reading and writing and provides specific simply as “the reading examples of ways in which writing supports reading and reading instruction guide”. supports writing. It is hoped that teachers will refer to these and other chapters in the reading instruction guide as they familiarize themselves with this writing guide. There are five key instructional approaches to writing – modelled writing, shared writing, interactive writing, guided writing, and independent writing – each of which forms the subject of a later chapter. Each approach provides opportunities for oral language instruction and practice, and each chapter contains one or more sample lessons that can be used for planning purposes or as a source of new ideas. First, however, this overview examines the understandings teachers must have to successfully deliver an effective writing program. Teachers need to understand the goals of writing instruction, the stages of development writers pass through, the strategies used by proficient or “good” writers, and the knowledge and skills students require to become effective writers. These understandings will guide teachers in establishing goals, planning programs, delivering instruction, and assessing student progress in ways that address the needs of all students. The Goals of Writing Instruction Writing instruction has four main goals for student achievement: 1. To write clearly and creatively to convey a message 2. To communicate ideas, thoughts, feelings, and experiences 3. To understand that writing is a reflective and interactive process 4. To understand the different purposes, audiences, and forms for writing To enable students to achieve these goals, teachers need to provide effective instruction in: • oral language skills; • activating prior knowledge and experience; • understanding audience, purpose, and form for writing; • understanding the writing process; • understanding the elements of writing; • applying higher-order thinking skills. 1.4 A Guide to Effective Instruction in Writing, Kindergarten to Grade 3To enable students to achieve these goals, every writing program should include: • a balance of direct instruction, guided instruction, and independent learning and student practice; • large-group, small-group, and individual instruction; discussion; and collaboration; • a variety of assessment and evaluation techniques, used to inform program planning and instruction; • an uninterrupted literacy block every day; • the integration of phonics and word study into reading, writing, and oral language activities; • the introduction of a variety of text forms, genres, formats, and electronic media; • authentic and motivating literacy experiences and learning activities; • activities and an environment that promote higher-order thinking skills; • guidance, coaching, and feedback for students; • interventions for students who are at risk of not developing literacy skills; • a supportive classroom culture and effective classroom organization and management; • parental and community involvement. The Stages of Writing Development All children come to school with a variety of print and oral language experiences, and teachers recognize and make accommodations for the differences among students when planning an effective writing program. A carefully planned program provides a meaningful context within which students can develop the skills and strategies needed to communicate ideas and information in writing. Program planning should begin by considering the three initial stages of writing development: emergent, early, and developing fluency. There are many examples of writing continua available in professional resources for teachers. The developmental continuum shown below, in the “Developmental Stages” graph, is one example. Students do not develop their writing skills evenly from Developmental Stages stage to stage. There is considerable overlap from one stage Developing to the next. It is common for developing writers to exhibit EmergentEarly Fluency behaviours from more than one stage of development. K 1 The three charts provided on the following pages outline 1 the main indicators of students’ understanding of writing, 2 and their interest and ability in writing, at each stage of development. Accompanying each indicator is a suggested 3 teaching approach that will best support student progress in that particular aspect of writing. 1. Adapted from Toronto District School Board, 2000, Appendix, pp. 69–70. Overview of Effective Instruction in Writing 1.5The Emergent Writer Emergent writers learn that their oral language can be recorded in print. They develop an understanding that writing is used to communicate a message. They imitate adult writing by using pictures, symbols, and some conventional letters. The Emergent Stage The student: The teacher: • understands that writing records a personal • uses modelled, shared, and interactive writing message; to record students’ ideas on a classroom chart during discussions, sharing time, and the morning • understands that writing is a form of communi- message (e.g., sending notes to the principal, cation and conveys a meaningful message; making shopping lists for the house centre, • progresses to writing a simple message using a recording recipes); combination of pictures, symbols, and letters; • models a variety of ways of message making (e.g., environmental print, classroom labels, morning message, shared writing, sentence strips) to help students understand that meaning can be conveyed in a variety of forms; • begins to use the conventions of oral language • models correct oral language structures, and (often with a tendency to overapply newly rephrases grammatically incorrect responses from learned conventions), while progressing from students (e.g., Student says, “I goed to the store.” simple descriptions to retelling events and Teacher responds, “You went to the store.”); explaining ideas; • demonstrates interest in playing at “writing” • provides an inviting environment and a variety and willingness to do so; of tools and media for student writing; • develops the understanding that illustration • demonstrates through read-alouds the difference and writing are different, and progresses from between illustrations and print, and reinforces scribble writing to letter approximations to these concepts through modelled and interactive conventional letters and spaces, with few or writing, using an alphabet picture chart and no attempts at punctuation; magnetic letters; • progresses from demonstrating beginning • uses a “think-aloud” strategy, during modelled awareness of directionality to using left to right, reading of a big book, to demonstrate that the top to bottom (i.e., concepts of print); text is read from left to right and from top to bottom; • progresses from using symbols representing • engages in phonemic awareness activities and print to spelling words with one or more letters, models how sound awareness translates to print. with a focus on letters representing the sounds of consonants (e.g., his/her own name, and high-frequency words such as “mom”, “I”, and “to”). 1.6 A Guide to Effective Instruction in Writing, Kindergarten to Grade 3The Early Writer Early writers are developing a greater understanding of the concepts of print. They begin to understand some purposes for writing and to use some basic writing forms. They express their ideas in simple sentences, often using invented spelling. The Early Stage The student: The teacher: • understands that writing is a way to preserve • encourages students to share their journal thoughts and information; writing, create books for the classroom library, write notes and cards, and so on; • demonstrates awareness that oral language • provides classroom experiences that enrich oral needs to be grammatically accurate, and is able language; to self-correct, using specific vocabulary to suit different purposes (e.g., for description, compari- son, and higher-order thinking); • demonstrates enjoyment of and continued • provides opportunities for students to communi- interest in writing; cate in personally meaningful ways; • represents words with conventional letters and • demonstrates, during modelled writing, how spaces in simple sentences, and attempts to language works (e.g., letters, words, spaces, use some punctuation in written language; sentences), using the think-aloud process; • in an interactive writing lesson, gives students the opportunity to participate in the writing; • progresses from demonstrating awareness of • models and shares the writing process, using basic print concepts to first steps in planning, graphic organizers (e.g., story web, story plan) revising, and editing; to plan a story and write a first draft; • in subsequent modelled and shared writing lessons, gives students the opportunity to revise and edit the first draft; • understands some purposes for and forms of • through shared and guided writing, introduces writing, and uses basic sentence structures to the elements of writing and coaches students communicate ideas; on how to select the appropriate form to suit a specific purpose for writing; • chooses letters to represent all dominant sounds • through modelled, shared, and guided writing, in a word, often using invented spelling as well demonstrates and engages students in the use as conventional spelling of some high-frequency of strategies and resources that support the words. learning of spelling (e.g., sound/symbol relationships, word walls, theme word displays, personal dictionaries). Overview of Effective Instruction in Writing 1.7Developing Fluency During this stage of writing development, children write for a variety of purposes, using forms appropriate for their audience. They follow the steps of the writing process, use a variety of spelling strategies, and group sentences into paragraphs. The Stage of Developing Fluency The student: The teacher: • understands that writing is an essential part of • demonstrates, through think-alouds and model- one’s life in order to communicate and satisfy ling, that writers write for a purpose, consider the personal and academic needs; audience, and choose the appropriate form; • recognizes that oral language needs to be • during think-alouds, models alternative oral adapted for specific purposes, and communicates language structures and a variety of vocabulary; messages for a variety of activities and events; • continues to enjoy writing, and understands that • provides materials and opportunities (e.g., time writing can be used for a variety of purposes; to read quality books and talk to peers about writing ideas) to support student self-expression (e.g., point of view, reflection, personal experience); • writes a variety of sentences and paragraphs, • works with small groups in guided writing to using appropriate punctuation; support student acquisition of writing strategies; • provides opportunities for students to reinforce, practise, and apply writing strategies during independent writing; • uses a range of strategies for planning, revising, • through guided and independent writing, supports editing, and publishing written text; students as they develop and implement strategies aligned with the writing process (e.g., graphic organizers, editing checklists, peer revision); • uses appropriate vocabulary and a range of text • may facilitate fluent writing through writing forms to suit purpose and audience; workshops and/or individual student conferences with an emphasis on the writing process and the • writes a variety of simple and complex sentences elements of writing; grouped into paragraphs; • uses letters to represent all sounds, and begins to • provides daily opportunities for students to apply use a variety of spelling strategies (e.g., visual spelling strategies in a meaningful context. and sound patterns, context, spelling resources such as dictionaries). 1.8 A Guide to Effective Instruction in Writing, Kindergarten to Grade 3Student Attitudes Towards Writing As students develop as writers, they gain not only greater proficiency in writing but also greater understanding of what effective writers do. Teachers may choose to generate a list of “What Good Writers Do”, “What Good Editors Do”, or “What Good Spellers Do” with their class. A student-generated list can be used as a way for teachers to discover their students’ attitudes towards writing, and towards themselves as writers. It can also highlight any gaps in students’ awareness of the qualities of an effective writer, editor, or speller. The teacher can address these gaps through minilessons or other instructional strategies. These lists are not prescriptive or exhaustive. They are used as a means to focus on writing and to “remind” students that they do not necessarily have to be a proficient speller to be an effective writer, and vice versa. It is possible that some qualities will fit under more than one heading. These lists should be considered within the broader context of student development. It is assumed that a Kindergarten student will not be performing nor be expected to perform at the same level as a student in Grade 3; therefore, not all of the points below will apply to all students. Samples of Student-Generated Lists What Do Good Writers Do? What Do Good Editors Do? What Do Good Spellers Do? • Like to write • Use capital letters • Read a lot • Write about things they know • Check their punctuation • Write a lot about or are interested in • Check their spelling • Look for patterns • Draw and “talk out” their story • Know many high-frequency • Use complete sentences words (rehearsal) • Write legibly • Know if a word looks right • Decide whom they are writing • Use interesting words for and what their writing will • Listen for sounds they hear • Let somebody else read their look like • Know where to look to find story • Share their writing with a a hard word (e.g., word wall, partner, a conference group, dictionaries) or the teacher • Take a risk • Read their first draft and ask, “Does it look right? Does it sound right? Does it make sense?” Overview of Effective Instruction in Writing 1.9Becoming an Effective Writer “Writing is a complex process that involves a range of skills and tasks. Although writing is often used to clarify and express personal thoughts and feelings, it is used primarily to communicate with others. Students need to become disciplined thinkers in order to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively. They need to learn to select and organize their ideas, keeping in mind the purpose for which they are writing and the audience they are addressing. They also need to learn to use standard written forms and other conventions of language.” (Ontario Ministry of Education and Training, 1997, p. 11) The writing process is the means by which students learn how to approach and carry out a writing task. The elements of writing provide teachers and students with the concepts and terminology necessary to understand and talk about the process and products of writing. An understanding of the forms of writing, which include genres and formats, and practice in identifying the purpose and audience for their writing enable students to select the most appropriate form to communicate their ideas and feelings. Students’ developing understanding of the writing process provides them with the tools they need to express themselves effectively and to reach their target audience. Through direct instruction, teachers provide students with an understanding of how different aspects of a piece of writing – including planning, writing a draft, revising, editing, and publishing – all relate to one another. Effective writers make connections to prior knowledge, other texts, and the world around them as they craft their writing. As they write, students ask themselves: • “Did I say everything that I wanted to say?” • “Does my plan for writing reflect my thinking and ideas?” • “Did I listen to my teacher or peer in order to make effective revisions?” The writing process, the elements of writing, and the forms of writing underpin the five key instructional approaches presented in this guide. These aspects of writing are interconnected, but they may be taught in isolation for a particular purpose – for example, in a minilesson devised to address a specific need – and then quickly integrated back into the literacy block. 1.10 A Guide to Effective Instruction in Writing, Kindergarten to Grade 3The Writing Process The writing process teaches students how to develop their ideas and record them in written form. The process involves the following distinct steps: • Planning • Writing a draft • Revising • Editing • Publishing Each stage of the writing process is important and needs to be explicitly taught. The writing process can be taught in sequence, but it is also important to help students understand that writers go back and forth between the steps as they write. Some writing is never taken to completion. All students, regardless of their stage of development as writers, are introduced to the writing process through modelled and shared instruction. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 participate in different aspects of a balanced writing program, depending on their stage of development. Each student will engage in the writing process at his or her own level – for example, a Kindergarten student might label a group picture during shared writing. Talk is an integral part Teacher and peer conferences play an important role in the writing of the writing process. process and are discussed below in the sections on revising and editing. Students are given the opportunity to talk to Teachers need to model all aspects of the writing process many times so each other in order to that students become familiar with each stage. This will enable students expand their ideas and/or make improvements in to participate in the writing process with understanding and confidence. their writing. Planning The first step of the writing process, sometimes referred to as “rehearsal”, results in a plan to guide students as they write. Students generate ideas based on prior knowledge or personal experience. They may be prompted to visualize or draw their story and then tell a friend. After brainstorming with other students, they evaluate their ideas, narrow their focus, and select a topic. Some students may be provided with a generic graphic organizer. As students create a plan, they need to consider why they are writing (the purpose), and who will read what they write (the audience). At this point, students may determine the form their writing will take. Overview of Effective Instruction in Writing 1.11Writing a Draft Following the development of their plan, students write a first draft. The intent of this draft is to get ideas down on paper. The focus, at this point, is on the message, not the mechanics of writing. Once the draft is complete, students need to read what they have written and decide if it says what they want it to say and if they like what they have written. It is crucial that they understand that not all writing will be developed beyond this point. (Teachers will tell students how many pieces of writing are expected to reach publication over the course of the year.) If they consider that the draft has potential, they will move on to the next step in the writing process. How- ever, if the draft is not satisfactory (e.g., does not address the purpose for writing), they may choose to go back to the planning stage and begin again. It is essential that students be taught how to evaluate their own writing at this stage in the process. Revising The focus of this step is to improve the quality of the message. “A process writing classroom Students are taught to examine their writing critically and use tends to be characterized by a a variety of strategies to revise their writing effectively. A good number of elements such as: way to begin is to ask themselves, “Does this make sense?” having students establish They need to determine if their ideas are clear and if their purposes for their writing; organization is appropriate for the form chosen. Students establishing author groups; peer will also consider the style of their writing, including sentence conferencing; student-teacher structure, paragraphing, and vocabulary, and ensure that they conferencing; finding ‘real’ have made the best word choices for their topic and audience. audiences for students’ writing; Word choice is a key concept related to developing the writer’s teachers writing with students; voice. If students decide that significant changes are neces- recognizing students’ personal sary, they may choose to go back and produce a complete writing processes; recognizing second draft. social and cultural influences on student writing.” Teacher and/or peer conferencing is an effective approach to (Peterson, 2003, p. 1) revision. After a revision conference, the student writer will decide if he or she will implement any of the suggestions made. It is important for teachers to remember that students may reach plateaus in their writing. Rather than progressing on to the next stage of development, they may need more experience and time in order to expand their repertoire of ideas and their sense of writing style and form. With children in Kindergarten to Grade 3, there may need to be a strong emphasis on oral language (e.g., frequent opportunities to talk to peers or listen to the teacher read a variety of books) in order to help them internalize different perspectives and ideas and incorporate them into their writing. 1.12 A Guide to Effective Instruction in Writing, Kindergarten to Grade 3Editing By this stage, students are satisfied with their message. They feel they have addressed the purpose, used the appropriate text form, and considered their audience. Therefore, they now need to focus on the mechanical aspects of their writing – they need to be taught to proofread their own writing and the writing of others. During proofreading, students will check the correctness of their spelling, grammatical structures, and punctuation. Class-developed editing checklists are a most effective tool since they reflect students’ capabilities. Ultimately, students will need to develop a variety of strategies, through a balanced writing program, before they are independently able to edit their work and the work of others. Publishing Students now make their writing presentable to the intended audience. They consider the visual layout of the text (e.g., margins, headings, graphics, and photographs) and its legibility. Once their writing has been published, it should be shared with their audience. As the following chart shows, writing is recursive in nature. The writer moves back and forth between the steps of the writing process in order to create and refine ideas. It is important to remember that not all writing reaches the publishing stage. The Writing Process Planning/Rehearsal Return to I have shared with a peer and NO planning/rehearsal I am happy with my plan. YES Drafting Return to planning/ rehearsal or Do I want to continue writ- NO ing this piece? put in writing folder YES Revising Make further revisions, Is this piece the best that return to an earlier stage, NO it can be? or put in writing folder YES Editing Return to an earlier Do I want to publish stage or put in NO this piece? writing folder YES Publishing Overview of Effective Instruction in Writing 1.13The Elements of Writing “Writing competence develops As students develop as writers, they gain a greater understand- along with skills in other areas ing of the elements that give each piece of writing its focus and of language, especially reading. 2 character. The elements of writing are as follows: As students read a variety of written texts, they increase • Ideas/Content and gain command over their • Organization vocabulary, and learn to • Voice vary their sentence structure, • Word Choice organizational approach, and • Sentence Fluency voice.” (Ontario Ministry of Education and • Conventions Training, 1997, p. 11) • Presentation These elements are reflected in the expectations and the achievement chart of the ministry’s language curriculum document for Grades 1–8. Understanding the role of the various elements of writing enables students to express their thoughts and feelings in their own unique way. Different elements may be introduced when teachers deem students to be ready to understand and use them. The elements should not be taught in isolation but should be introduced in the con- text of the daily language activities of the class. On some occasions, the teacher may focus on a specific element of writing during a minilesson or shared writing lesson, but the new learning should be integrated into students’ daily learning. As students grow developmentally, they will write more complex, lengthy pieces that will provide further opportunities to teach the elements of writing. Students’ developing understanding of the elements of writing provides them with the tools they need to express themselves effectively and to reach their target audi- ence. Through direct instruction, teachers provide students with an understanding of how different aspects of a piece of writing – including ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation – all relate to one another. Effective writers make connections to prior knowledge, other texts, and the world around them as they craft their writing. As they write, students ask themselves: • “Can the reader tell how I feel about this topic?” • “Did I say everything that was important?” • “Why did I decide to write this?” 2. The discussion of the elements of writing in this and the following section is based on the writing model described by Ruth Culham in 6+1 Traits of Writing (New York: Scholastic Professional Books, 2003), pages 11and 12. 1.14 A Guide to Effective Instruction in Writing, Kindergarten to Grade 3Presentation Voice Sentence Fluency Organization Conventions Word Choice Ideas/Content Elements of Writing Ideas/Content Ideas and content reflect both the chosen topic and the purpose for writing. They need to be clearly expressed, focused, and supported with sufficient detail. Ideas and content are addressed during the planning stage of the writing process. Example: After visiting the fire hall, the teacher brainstorms with the students what they learned (ideas and content) and, together, they list the ways they can show their appreciation to the firefighters (purpose). Organization Organization provides the structure for the writing and reflects its audience and purpose. It is characterized by an effective beginning and end, a logical sequence Overview of Effective Instruction in Writing 1.15of ideas, and clear connections to the topic. Organization is explicitly addressed as writers create a plan. It is used to guide the writing of a first draft. The quality of the organization is evaluated during the revision step of the writing process. Example: The students have been asked to write a news report for their class newspaper. 3 The teacher models how to use a 5 Ws – Who, What, When, Where, Why – organizer to help students plan their first draft. It is recommended that teachers use the same graphic organizers for reading and writing so students can see the similarities between the two processes – between deconstructing a story as a reader and constructing a story as a writer. Voice Voice gives style and personality to writing. It reflects the feelings and perspective of the author and can be found in illustrations as well as in the written word. Emergent writers who may be able to put very little in writing can still project a voice through their pictures. The topic, audience, and purpose need to be considered when developing voice. Voice enables the reader to connect with the author. Voice will be considered as students write their drafts and will be refined when students revise their writing. Example: The teacher reads a grade-appropriate passage that has a strong voice. Students are asked to identify the author’s feelings about the topic and to explain what the author did to enable readers to “hear” his or her voice. Students may notice the author’s vocabulary, imagery, use of humour, use of illustrations, choice of font size for exclamatory sentences, and so on. Word Choice Word choice is about selecting the best word(s) to suit the writer’s topic, audience, and purpose. It makes the writing descriptive, detailed, and precise. Effective word choices enable readers to visualize and understand the content more clearly. Word choice is a consideration during the drafting stage of the writing process and will be refined during revision. Example: The teacher provides a classroom experience, such as making applesauce, as a way to enrich students’ vocabulary. A list of words and phrases that were shared during the experience could be written on a chart for students to use in their independent writing. 3. See the reading instruction guide, Appendix 10-1e, page 10.16. 1.16 A Guide to Effective Instruction in Writing, Kindergarten to Grade 3Sentence Fluency Using a variety of sentence structures and sentence lengths gives rhythm and flow to a piece of writing and makes it easy and pleasurable to read. Writing that conveys this impression of ease is said to be “fluent” (the term sentence fluency is commonly used). Fluency is addressed when students write their first draft, and is further developed as students revise and edit their writing. Example: During a shared writing lesson, the teacher and students edit and revise a passage that has many short, simple sentences that all start with the same pattern. The students are asked to revise and edit the passage and to identify the strategies they used (e.g., combine sentences, use connecting words, vary sentence length, change sentence order). Conventions Conventions refer to the mechanics of writing and include spelling, grammar, punc- tuation, capitalization, and paragraphing. The accurate application of conventions makes writing easier for others to read. Students focus on conventions as they proofread their writing during the editing step of the writing process. With teacher guidance, students can generate an editing checklist that reflects their current understanding of conventions. The checklist may be used during peer editing or student self-editing. In addition, the checklist can easily be transformed into a rubric, outlining expectations that would be understood by all students. An editing checklist can be a powerful tool for teacher-student conferences, and can be used as an assessment tool by student and teacher. Ongoing assessment provides teachers with the information they need to teach grammar, punctuation, and spelling. It tells them what students know and the areas in which they need to improve, relative to the knowledge and skills described in the curriculum expectations. Spelling is an integral part of literacy development To ensure growth and independence and should be taught in the context of both reading and in spelling, teachers must provide students with: writing instruction. There are occasions when teachers ➜ many and varied print experiences; may decide to teach a specific spelling skill in isolation, ➜ instruction according to the during a minilesson or a shared writing lesson. However, developmental needs of students; this should always be done in the context of reading and ➜ demonstrations of effective spelling writing so the new learning can be easily integrated into strategies; students’ daily writing. ➜ opportunities for consolidation and practice. Overview of Effective Instruction in Writing 1.17Some Strategies for Teaching and Learning Spelling Spelling Strategy Description Teaching/Learning Strategies High-frequency words Students spell common words Teach students to spell common that they would be expected words using strategies such as to read and write automatically word wall activities, games (e.g., (i.e., sight words). Many of Concentration), and frequent these words are phonetically opportunities to read, so that irregular (e.g., “of”, “is”, “are”, students see the words spelled “from”, “the”). correctly many times in context. Letter-sound connections Students say words slowly Use modelling and shared and and spell words as they sound guided instruction to teach (i.e., phonics). students to say words slowly and record the sounds they hear. Analogy Students use what they already Teach students to spell new know about words in order to words by listing word families, spell and read new words. substituting onset (e.g., change the first letter in “cat” to make it say “hat”), substituting rime (e.g., change the ending of “hop” to make it say “hot”), and making new words from known words (e.g., take the onset from “hat” and the rime from “mouse” to spell the word “house”). Spelling resources Students use a variety of refer- Teach students to use references ences to assist with accurate such as a word wall, personal spelling. dictionary, picture dictionary, theme words, and subject-specific vocabulary. Effective spellers use all four spelling strategies and are willing to take risks when spelling new words. Presentation Presentation deals with the visual layout of the text. It may be influenced by the form the writing takes (e.g., a list, a story, a recipe). Consideration is given to legibility, titles, margins, graphics, illustrations, and other aspects related to how the writing looks on the page. Presentation is dealt with during the publishing step of the writing process. Example: The teacher may introduce students to software (such as “Kidpix”) to add media and enhance the appearance of their writing products. 1.18 A Guide to Effective Instruction in Writing, Kindergarten to Grade 3Organization • Did you make a plan and follow it? • Do you have a beginning and an end? • Do your ideas go together? • Are your ideas in the right order? Word Choice • Have you used interesting words? • Have you used any words too many times? • Can the reader “picture” what you wrote? • Have you chosen the best words? Conventions • Did you read what you wrote? (proofreading) • Have you checked your spelling and punctuation? • Did you write in complete sentences? • Have you followed the rules for paragraph writing? Teaching Prompts The elements of writing need to be explicitly taught. Although each element can be taught in isolation, collectively they need to be applied by students in the context of meaningful writing activities. Some suggested teaching prompts, which may be used during conferences and minilessons, are presented in the chart below. These and other prompts created by teachers to meet particular class needs will help students to apply the elements of writing independently. Overview of Effective Instruction in Writing 1.19 Ideas/Content • What have you decided to write about? (topic) • Why did you decide to write this? (purpose) • Whom is your story for? (audience) • Can you explain your ideas to a friend? • Did you say everything that was important? Voice • How do you want people to feel when they read this? • Can the reader tell how you feel about this topic? • Does this writing sound as if it’s you talking? • Will someone be interested in reading this? Sentence Fluency • Have you used different kinds of sentences? • Have you used some long and some short sentences? • Do your sentences begin in different ways? • When you read your sentences aloud, do they sound easy and natural? Presentation • Is your writing neat and tidy? • Does your writing look nice on the page? • Does your work have a title? • Have you used pictures/charts/diagrams well?Please refer to the thumbnails of Appendix 1.1 at the end of this chapter and the full- sized version on the eWorkshop website at for a list of texts that may be used to teach the elements of writing. Text Forms, Genres, and Formats Students need to understand the different text forms and genres, and Purpose+Audience=Form how these work, so that they can make decisions about the kind of writing they are going to do. They should, for example, be clear about the fundamental differences between factual and fictional texts, and recognize that there are various ways of writing them. These considerations may be addressed during the planning stage of the writing process. Students’ developing understanding of text forms, genres, and formats provides them with the tools they need to express themselves effectively and to reach their target audience. Through direct instruction, teachers provide students with an under- standing of how different aspects of a piece of writing – including the theme or topic, the audience, the purpose of writing, and the form – all relate to one another. Effective writers make connections to prior knowledge, other texts, and the world around them as they craft their writing. As they write, students ask themselves: • “What am I really trying to say?” • “Who is my intended audience?” • “How can I express my ideas?” • “Have I made myself clear?” Within each form of writing, there are a variety of genres. Genres are a way of categorizing texts that have a similar style, structure, or theme. The traditional boundaries of genre are broadening and blurring as authors and illustrators expand and experiment with the categories. Many literary works combine two or more genres to create a multi-genre text. Genres can lend themselves to a variety of formats. It is important to expose students to a wide range of genres and formats so that they can learn how to reach their audience effectively. Practice in using a variety of genres and formats can help students make critical links between their reading and writing (e.g., improve their ability to recognize text forms and identify their purpose and function during subsequent reading experiences). A sampling of formats should therefore appear in the classroom library and around the room and should be frequently highlighted for the students. 1.20 A Guide to Effective Instruction in Writing, Kindergarten to Grade 3Below is a selection of text forms, genres, and formats that may be used in a writing classroom. Text Forms • Narrative • Persuasive piece • Recount • Report • Procedure • Explanation Genres • Adventure • Historical fiction • Autobiography • Humour • Biography • Information piece • Drama • Legend • Fable • Memoir • Fairy tale • Mystery • Fantasy • Poetry • Folk tale • Science fiction • Ghost story Formats • List • Sign • Letter • Play • Magazine • Diary • Newspaper • Joke • Logo • Story • Storyboard • Graphic organizer • Journal • Graph • Comic strip • Acrostic poem • Recipe • Free verse • Picture book • Rap song or poem Overview of Effective Instruction in Writing 1.21