Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi
Communities
Schools

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:



English Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Level 4 – Speaking, writing, presenting

Processes and strategies

Students will:

  • integrate sources of information, processes, and strategies confidently to identify, form, and express ideas.

Sources of information

What do I need to know?

There are three interrelated sources of information in texts that readers and writers use:

  • Meaning (semantics) – the meanings of words and of images, such as illustrations, diagrams, and symbols, in their context; Students build on their knowledge of words and their meanings through extensive reading and writing, rich conversations with adults and peers, and planned literacy activities. They extend their vocabularies and learn how to use visual language and illustrations, such as diagrams and photographs, to help them make meaning.
  • Structure (syntax) – the grammatical structures of phrases and sentences; Knowing the structure or syntax of a language helps readers and writers to predict unknown words and phrases when reading and the order of words in a sentence when writing. Students’ understanding of the more complex grammatical forms of English (such as the use of ellipsis) increases through planned literacy activities.
  • Visual and grapho-phonic information – the visual aspects of the print itself. This source includes the features of the printed letters, words, punctuation, and other print symbols. (It does not include illustrations.) Proficient readers and writers draw on their phonemic awareness (they can hear, differentiate, and attend closely to the individual sounds in words) and on their knowledge of phonics (they know which letters or groups of letters represent which sounds).
    Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.30–31.

As beginning readers and writers, learners are taught to use and integrate the sources of information. They are given opportunities to apply this learning as they read and write many texts, develop their oral language, and engage with increasingly challenging texts. Students continue to need opportunities to apply what they have been taught and to practise reading and writing as they progress with their literacy learning. They need planned, explicit instruction.

Fluent readers and writers use all available sources of information, including their prior knowledge and experience, confidently, simultaneously, and usually unconsciously. Teachers of years 5 to 8 need to be aware that some of their students may still need explicit instruction to establish basic knowledge of how to use and integrate the sources of information in text. Assessment evidence can identify students who are still challenged by the basics of decoding and encoding. Some of these students may be new learners of English who are literate in a different code. If so, they can be encouraged to transfer relevant understandings.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.32.

What does it look like?

A case study of a student using (grapho-phonic and semantic) sources of information to encode a text

One of my reading groups had been reading an article about the effects of water on the landscape, and one aspect we had discussed was erosion. A little later, the class was writing a shared explanation of how water makes changes to the landscape.

I began by inviting the group who had read the article to share what they had learned. Eli said, “We learned that water can cause large amounts of rock, soil, and other debris to move. I think it was called erosion.” I encouraged him to frame this into a sentence for our shared piece of writing. He said, “Water can cause large amounts of rock, soil, and debris to move. It’s called erosion.” I scribed this until I came to “erosion”. I wanted the class to consider how it might be spelled.

“How do you think we write this word?” I asked.

Josh said, “I think it’s e-r-o-tion”.

“Yes, the first part’s correct,” I agreed, “but the ending of this word is a bit tricky.

The ending ‘-tion’ usually sounds like ‘shin’ as in ‘station’ and ‘fiction’, but ‘erosion’ isn’t quite the same. Listen carefully to the sound. Think of other words that have the same sound.”

Chelsea volunteered “explosion”.

“Exactly, it’s ero-sion,” I confirmed.

Teacher, year 6 class

Processes

What do I need to know?

Writers move between certain processes as they create texts. These processes relate to the stages of creating a text. There are three processes:

1. Forming intentions (planning) for writing.

2. Crafting or composing a text.

Crafting or composing a text means recording ideas and information, usually on paper or in electronic form. The student creates a text to meet the writing purpose and engage the intended audience by writing down the best possible words in the best possible order, using and extending their knowledge of English vocabulary and syntax. Students can develop their expertise in many aspects of crafting a text by watching and listening as the teacher or another writer demonstrates or explains a relevant part of the process. They also learn about crafting texts by thinking and talking about the texts that they read and by discussing frequently, with their teacher and with other students, what they are doing as they write.

3. Reflecting on, recrafting, and presenting (or publishing) the text.

For example:

  • the initial intention may be clarified during crafting and recrafting
  • crafting often creates a need for gathering more information or reorganising ideas
  • decisions made during crafting and recrafting sometimes influence how the text will be presented.

Proficient writers continually reflect on what they write. They reread their text again and again, both as they write and after writing. This often leads to recrafting (making changes to their text) if the writer thinks of a way to meet their purpose more effectively, clarify their meaning, or give their writing more impact. This process of reflecting on the text and recrafting it is sometimes called revising and editing. Often, but not always, writers decide to present their text to others, for example, by publishing it in written form. (Every text is written for an audience, but sometimes that audience is the writer alone, or the writer and the teacher.) The writer may make further changes to their text to enhance the way it will look or sound to the intended audience. Students often find it useful to ask their teacher or peers for feedback on their recrafting or their preparation for publishing or presenting. Writers become better writers when they reflect and act on informative, thoughtful, and constructive feedback.

It is important to recognise that these processes are not discrete but are closely interrelated. Generally, writers do not use them in sequence but in the way that is most appropriate to the new text they are creating. Moving between the processes is influenced by what has gone before and what is anticipated.

Forming intentions means planning carefully in order to create an effective text that has clarity and impact. Teachers need to provide focused instruction on how to identify purposes and audiences for writing, how to choose a text form that aligns to the purpose for writing, and how to gather, select, and organise ideas and information for writing. Teachers can engage their students in forming intentions for writing by, for example, sharing personal stories with them, reading to or with them, researching a topic with them, or discussing a topic in depth with them. When students know what writing that achieves its purpose looks like, they can develop personal learning goals for improving their writing in specific ways.
Adapted from Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006.p.37 and p.154–158.

What does it look like?

This case study shows some writers planning their writing, crafting an opening and beginning to re-craft as they write

The purpose for writing in our shared writing session was to create a dialogue between two eight-year-olds, one living in 1905 and one in 2005, for a video the students were making about our school’s history. Our learning goal was “to select language that was authentic and would engage the viewer”, and the criteria we came up with were:

  • the words should be words that real children of each period used
  • the dialogue should sound like spoken language, not like someone reading aloud
  • the dialogue should be humorous, building on the differences between the two periods.

“What might they say first?” I asked. “They’d say, ‘Who are you?’” suggested Mei. “Perhaps, but what’s important when we start a text?” I asked. “Hook the reader in!” said Jodi. I challenged them, “How can we do that in an authentic way, in this text?” “They could both be surprised at the other one’s clothes,” said Hone. “They might both think the other one was going to a fancy dress party.” “So, what shall I write? What would you say if it was you?” “Hey, man, why are you wearing that hat … and those stockings and funny kind of pants … and all that other weird gear?”

I scribed this on the board and asked, “Are we happy with that? Is it engaging? What about the length?” The group decided that “Hey, man” and “weird gear” would hook the viewer in, but that the sentence was too long for a two-person dialogue, so we edited it down to “Hey, man, why are you wearing all that weird gear?” Then we got onto the challenging business of working out how a 1905 child might respond to this piece of modern jargon. We had been reading some E. Nesbit dialogues as one way of preparing for this.

Teacher, year 5 and 6 class
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006.p.115.

Strategies

What do I need to know?

Writers employ a range of strategies to help them write effectively, many of which relate to the reading processing strategies. Writers attend to their developing text and search for the exact word or phrase that will convey the desired meaning; they predict by thinking about which words, language features, or structural features will enhance their text for its purpose; and they continually reread, cross-check, confirm, and self-correct their writing in terms of its meaning, accuracy, and impact.

Writers also use strategies that relate to the reading comprehension strategies. Good writers, like good readers, synthesise ideas and information. They bring together previous learning and experiences, make connections, visualise, and go on to create imaginative pieces or clear descriptive accounts. They analyse and evaluate ideas and information as they clarify their intentions, choose vocabulary, compose, and recraft their work.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education. 2006. p.37.

Student writers need direct instruction from their teacher as they learn to use the writing processes and strategies. Across the curriculum and throughout the day, teachers can model writing and enable students to develop their writing in various forms. For example, students can reflect on their day by writing, they can take notes when researching in social studies, they can write a report on a science experiment, or they can write a letter to persuade their principal to change a school rule.

As they move between the writing processes, most writers use a range of strategies that include cross-checking, self-correcting, making connections, asking questions, visualising, implying, analysing and synthesising, and evaluating. Many of the writing strategies are essentially the same as the comprehension strategies that readers use.

Teachers need to help their students become aware that:

  • readers identify the writer’s purpose in a text, and writers have a purpose for writing, which they make clear to their readers
  • readers need to make connections between the text they read and what they already know, and writers need to consider how they can connect their text with what their intended audience knows
  • readers sometimes need to be able to infer meaning from a text, and writers sometimes need to intrigue their readers and arouse their curiosity in order to engage them further by suggesting something rather than stating it directly
  • readers often need to be able to create mental images from the text, and writers need to know how to select and use words and imagery that enable their readers to get a clear picture of what the text means.

Effective teachers encourage their students to notice and use these links independently. As noted on page 152 above, too much emphasis on explicit strategy instruction can have a negative effect on student learning. The challenge for teachers is to ensure that students, as they write, develop metacognition. Students need to learn to identify and articulate the writing processes they move between and the writing strategies they use. As they consider and discuss how and why they use these strategies and processes, they become increasingly aware of how to apply them to other writing tasks.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.160.

What writers do when they form intentions for writing:

  • identify the purpose and audience for their writing
  • think carefully about the possible content of their writing
  • gather, select, and organise ideas and information, either in their minds (to be drawn upon when required) or by recording them using graphic organisers such as word lists, flow charts, and mind maps
  • make connections between the ideas and information, ask questions about them, visualise them, analyse them, synthesise them, and evaluate them, in order to decide which ideas and information to include
  • visualise a structure or sequence that conveys their intended meaning
  • decide on the text form that best meets their purpose
  • discuss their planning with other writers and get feedback about it.

What writers do when they craft or compose a text:

  • order selected ideas and information in a way that makes the meaning of the text clear to the reader
  • shape their text to create links between the main information and supporting details or between the introduction and conclusion
  • synthesise and use ideas from their previous learning about texts, for example, ideas about using appropriate vocabulary, text structure, and language features
  • ask questions of themselves (and sometimes others) about the content and impact of their writing, considering especially the deeper features of their writing, such as author’s voice, structure, vocabulary usage, imagery, and language features
  • attend to these deeper features of their writing and also to surface features, such as grammar, spelling, and punctuation (where this does not interrupt the flow of composition at this stage)
  • seek and act on feedback from their peers.

What writers do when they reflect on, re-craft and present the text:

  • reread and evaluate the ideas and information that they record, seeking and acting on feedback from others to ensure that their writing is clear and meets its purpose
  • reread their writing to evaluate its impact (especially the effect of the vocabulary, structure, and language features), seeking and acting on feedback about how their choices may affect the intended audience
  • make changes to their text after rereading, evaluating, and seeking feedback, usually to clarify the meaning or add to the impact, for example, by:

– adding words or ideas

– changing the way words and ideas are organised in the text

– replacing words with better ones or deleting redundant words

– adding language features or improving them

  • proofread the text carefully, checking the surface features and correcting any errors
  • consider how to share their writing most effectively with their intended audience
  • present the text in a way that will enhance the effect it has on its audience
  • (after the writing has been presented) reflect on whether they have achieved their writing purpose and what they might do differently as a writer the next time they write.
    Adapted from Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.155–158.

What does it look like?

This teaching and learning outline from the national writing exemplars illustrates a group of writers beginning to use strategies to form intentions, craft and re-craft their writing. 

The teacher introduced the idea of places that are special to us, and encouraged her students to brainstorm a range of places that people might find important. She told them about her own special place, and invited questions to help them focus on the details she was describing.

The students then thought of their own special place and were asked to visualise it with their eyes shut. This would help them to "zoom in" on the details. They could use the five senses to do this: What could they see? What could they hear? What could they smell, touch, taste?

They were also asked to think of something significant or interesting that they had experienced in their special place. They had to describe it to a partner, who asked them to elaborate.

The teacher demonstrated how to create and record a "sunburst of ideas" using this theme, paying particular attention to the information about their senses. She modelled a first paragraph about her special place from this sunburst and encouraged the students to rewrite it, focusing on a strong introduction and the use of interesting vocabulary.

Each student wrote an initial paragraph and received feedback from a writing partner about its effectiveness as an introduction. They continued to write for a few sessions, and then edited and proofread their work before publishing it.

Teacher-student conversations

The teacher gave the following instructions before the drafting stage: Be really specific; zoom into the picture; I want you to use your senses.

During editing with one of the students (Frank) she talked with him about some of the significant language features of his writing.

Teacher: Does your opening paragraph contain enough information to hook the reader?

Frank: I think so. It's got "what, when, and where". First of all I wrote "When I was riding my bike...", but I changed it to "Coming back from riding my bike..." to make it sound better.

Teacher: I particularly like the part of your writing that describes you and Daniel coming down the hill. Why do you think I like that part?

Frank: Well, what I've tried to do is write short sentences to build up a sense of movement.

Teacher: Exactly. I can envisage you and Daniel coming down the hill really fast.

Indicators

Uses increasing understanding of the connections between oral, written, and visual language

Uses an increasing understanding of the connections between oral, written, and visual language when creating texts

What do I need to know?

Whether we listen and speak, read and write, or view and present, we participate in a very similar communication process. When we communicate, we (the originator) convey (medium) something (meaning or message) for someone (audience) for our reasons (purpose) by some means (mode of transmission, or form).
Exploring Language, NZ Ministry of Education, 1996. p.181. [abridged]

It is well established, through studies and theories of language learning, that oral language underpins written language: the two are closely interrelated. Through discussion involving both listening and speaking, students focus on specific ideas that arise in their reading and writing, decide how the ideas can best be expressed, and extend their vocabulary and their thinking. These conversations provide students with essential experiences to build on when engaging with texts and delighting in them. Effective teachers plan oral language programmes to promote effective listening and speaking alongside their reading and writing programmes. Visual language is inherent in reading and writing because print is a visual medium – we see the words and the pictures – and some text forms offer specific kinds of visual support to the reader. In order to find or create maximum meaning in written language, students need to be able to access, process, and present ideas and information by understanding and using many visual features and conventions. For example, when reading a transactional text for information, they may need to interpret subheadings, maps, and diagrams.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5 to 8, NZ Ministry of Education. 2006. p18.

Because language is essentially an interactive process, the oral, written and visual forms are highly interrelated. Listening, for example, may require watching someone’s body language to understand fully the overall communication. When listening to and watching a demonstration or dramatic performance, there will often be visual elements that add important meaning to what is said and listened to. Skilful reading enables the reader to obtain information, to appreciate the feelings of others, to reflect upon ideas, experiences and opinions, and to gain imaginative and aesthetic pleasure. Skilful writing enables the writer to convey information, to express feelings, to record, clarify, record and reflect on ideas, experiences or opinions, and to give imaginative and aesthetic pleasure.
Flockton & Crooks, NEMP Writing Assessment Results, 2002. p.9.

What does it look like?

This teaching and learning outline from the national visual language exemplars illustrates a student using oral language and reading to develop an idea, and then using writing and visual language to present her idea (assisted by her teacher). The outline relates to the level 4 visual language (static images) exemplar The Rabbits Are Coming.

The teacher had identified that the class needed help with reading comprehension, and so it became a focus for the year's activities. She used the resource Reading Comprehension to help plan the programme, including ideas on introducing and exploring narrative texts.

When their reading comprehension skills improved, the teacher turned to the visual features of picture books. She began by sharing My Dad by Anthony Browne. Over a number of sessions the class explored the different features of the text and how the illustrations reflected the text. Students were questioned in response to verbal text – what sort of dad is this? What qualities does he have? Can we tell what the book is about from the verbal text only?

The book was read and discussed. Students responded to the visual text as a class and in small sharing groups, and then reported back. Questions focused on the visual links and the quality these were expressing, for example:

Question: On page 8, Dad is represented as a horse. Why do you think this is? Answer: Dad is portrayed as a horse's head and the back of the chair legs are a horse's legs and hooves. The quality is that he is healthy. He eats a lot. He has a big appetite.

They then compiled of list of qualities represented in the visual text.

The teacher introduced the features of a book cover, which were labelled on a photocopy. She asked:

  • Why do you think the illustrator has selected this colour for the background?
  • Where do we find the dominant image?
  • Look at the font – what do you notice?
  • Does the picture match the title?
  • Where do we find extra information, for instance, the author's name?

In small groups the students analysed a variety of sophisticated picture book covers. The task was to discuss particular features and the rationale behind them. The main elements were then shared, and summarised on a chart.

A graphic designer was invited to talk with the class. He focused mainly on discussing "What's the point? What message are we trying to get across to our audience? If we are attempting humour, we need to select our audience carefully."

He shared examples of his work and students asked why he had selected particular features, especially in relation to layout. His main points were summarised on a wall chart.

The teacher had laminated a number of lettering cards . Students completed a contract independently over a period of days. These activities were then assessed using two different items from the  Assessment Resource Banks (needs the password sent to all schools).

They were to select a book they enjoyed and produce a response in the form of a static image conveying a strong sense of the book. They were now ready to determine particular criteria for their static image – the charts around the room were used as a reference.

The class developed the following criteria:

  • The message must be clear: there needs to be a point to the image.
  • It must reflect a theme explored in the text.
  • It must have impact. We need to think about colour, font, dominant image, layout, framing, white space.
  • It must include a verbal feature. This could include a question, a quote, a joke.

Maeve elected to work on John Marsden's allegory The Rabbits.

Teacher-student conversations

Maeve had trialled a number of ideas and decided on photocopying/collage, as she was attempting to use layers to show the rabbits' many facets. She was having trouble deciding on colour and font when the conversation took place.

Maeve: I just can’t get the colours right. I don’t really want them to be bright. I don’t think it goes with what I am wanting to do. … I’m thinking watery paint or dye.

Teacher: Actually what about water colours?

Maeve: I’ll give them a go. I’ve decided on red, orange and blue but just can’t think of what would suit “foreign”.

Teacher: OK. Close your eyes. I’ll say the word “foreign” over a few times, and I want you to think of the first image that comes into your head.

Maeve: War, army coats.

She then painted the background.

Maeve: Do you think it will look dull if I keep the font white? It’s just that I need a white space, and it will match the quotes.

Teacher: No, probably a good idea. They need to show up on that background.

Maeve: Yes, because the background is fussy I want the words to be plain. Maybe the title will be different though. I want it to reflect the quirkiness of the rabbits. I’m cutting it out of magazines and am going to have it look like it’s moving.

Integrates sources of information and processing strategies with increasing confidence

Creates a range of texts by integrating sources of information and processing strategies with increasing confidence

What do I need to know?

It is important that students and teachers use and create a range and variety of texts in their reading and writing. This enables students’ diverse interests, needs, values, and perspectives to be addressed and also provides many kinds of high-quality examples and models for students’ writing. Students need to learn to read and write many different kinds of texts, including text forms that are unique to the electronic media, for different purposes and audiences. Having access to a range of texts encourages students to become more discerning when selecting texts to read for enjoyment or information. As students move through school, they are required to read and write increasingly complex transactional texts for a variety of purposes across the curriculum. They also need to be able to use reference sources intended for adult readers and writers, such as detailed atlases and comprehensive dictionaries. Explicit, ongoing instruction can empower them to meet these challenges. It is important for teachers to engage their students in reading and writing a range of non-fiction texts for clearly defined learning goals.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.124–125. [abridged]

Sources of information

There are three interrelated sources of information in texts that readers and writers use:

  • Meaning (semantics) – the meanings of words and of images, such as illustrations, diagrams, and symbols, in their context; Students build on their knowledge of words and their meanings through extensive reading and writing, rich conversations with adults and peers, and planned literacy activities. They extend their vocabularies and learn how to use visual language and illustrations, such as diagrams and photographs, to help them make meaning.
  • Structure (syntax) – the grammatical structures of phrases and sentences; Knowing the structure or syntax of a language helps readers and writers to predict unknown words and phrases when reading and the order of words in a sentence when writing. Students’ understanding of the more complex grammatical forms of English (such as the use of ellipsis) increases through planned literacy activities.
  • Visual and grapho-phonic information – the visual aspects of the print itself. This source includes the features of the printed letters, words, punctuation, and other print symbols. (It does not include illustrations.) Proficient readers and writers draw on their phonemic awareness (they can hear, differentiate, and attend closely to the individual sounds in words) and on their knowledge of phonics (they know which letters or groups of letters represent which sounds).
    Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.30–31.

Writers move between certain processes as they create texts. These processes relate to the stages of creating a text. The processes are:

  • forming intentions (planning) for writing
  • crafting or composing a text
  • reflecting on, recrafting, and presenting (or publishing) the text.

It is important to recognise that these processes are not discrete but are closely interrelated. Generally, writers do not use them in sequence but in the way that is most appropriate to the new text they are creating. Moving between the processes is influenced by what has gone before and what is anticipated. For example:

  • the initial intention may be clarified during crafting and recrafting
  • crafting often creates a need for gathering more information or reorganising ideas
  • decisions made during crafting and recrafting sometimes influence how the text will be presented.

Writers employ a range of strategies to help them write effectively, many of which relate to the reading processing strategies. Writers attend to their developing text and search for the exact word or phrase that will convey the desired meaning; they predict by thinking about which words, language features, or structural features will enhance their text for its purpose; and they continually reread, cross-check, confirm, and self-correct their writing in terms of its meaning, accuracy, and impact.
 Writers also use strategies that relate to the reading comprehension strategies. Good writers, like good readers, synthesise ideas and information. They bring together previous learning and experiences, make connections, visualise, and go on to create imaginative pieces or clear descriptive accounts. They analyse and evaluate ideas and information as they clarify their intentions, choose vocabulary, compose, and recraft their work.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.37.

What does it look like?

The following are examples of prompts that teachers might use to help students think about using sources of information when creating texts.

  • I notice you’re using some technical words, like “hypothesis”, “data”, and “phenomena”. How do these strengthen your writing?
  • Are you thinking about the key sounds or the spelling pattern of that word as your write it down?
  • Maybe you need to look again at the explanation that we wrote together to see how to express cause and effect clearly.
    Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.15.

The following are examples of prompts that teachers might use to help students think about using processing strategies when creating texts.

Let’s reread the draft that we wrote together yesterday. As we reread it, I want you to focus on how far we achieved our learning goal of “implying characterisation through carefully chosen anecdotes”. Think about changes we could make to meet this goal more successfully.

I want you to observe and think carefully about all the changes that I make to my draft. Why might I make them? Do they help my writing to meet its purpose?

Do you think you need to make any more changes to meet your writing purpose better or to make a direct connection with your audience?

What would happen if you added/deleted/ altered that word/sentence/language feature? How would that affect your text?

I don’t quite understand that part. How could you change it to help me, as a reader, to understand it better?

Do you think your writing will be easy to read? Have you checked your surface features for errors? How are you going to present the text so that others appreciate your writing and get your meaning clearly?
 
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006.p.159.

The following is a case study in which students have to integrate sources of information and processing strategies in order to encode words.

One of my reading groups had been reading an article about the effects of water on the landscape, and one aspect we had discussed was erosion. A little later, the class was writing a shared explanation of how water makes changes to the landscape. 
I began by inviting the group who had read the article to share what they had learned. Eli said, “We learned that water can cause large amounts of rock, soil, and other debris to move. I think it was called erosion.” I encouraged him to frame this into a sentence for our shared piece of writing. He said, “Water can cause large amounts of rock, soil, and debris to move. It’s called erosion.” I scribed this until I came to “erosion”. I wanted the class to consider how it might be spelled.

“How do you think we write this word?” I asked.

Josh said, “I think it’s e-r-o-tion”.

“Yes, the first part’s correct,” I agreed, “but the ending of this word is a bit tricky.

The ending ‘-tion’ usually sounds like ‘shin’ as in ‘station’ and ‘fiction’, but ‘erosion’ isn’t quite the same. Listen carefully to the sound. Think of other words that have the same sound.”

Chelsea volunteered “explosion”.

“Exactly, it’s ero-sion,” I confirmed.

Teacher, year 6 class
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.33.

The following teaching and learning outline from the national writing exemplars illustrates a student (Neala) using a range of processing strategies as she crafts and re-crafts her text (assisted by the teacher). The outline relates to the level 4 written language (arguments) exemplar 'Animals in Circuses'.

In exploring written arguments, the students discussed current events and issues that were important to them. They talked about how they had to feel strongly about a topic, and eventually they each selected a suitable issue.

The teacher then modelled each stage of writing an argument, to demonstrate taking a position, substantiating reasons, and making a recommendation. He encouraged the students to offer ideas and advice about how to write a persuasive argument. In particular, he focused on language features and choices, such as emotive language, rhetorical questions, repetition, and the imperative. He had selected a topic that none of the students had chosen: Why is it important to have male teachers in primary schools?

The students then returned to their own topics, confirmed their position and brainstormed any ideas. Then they selected what they considered to be their strongest three to five points, and used a planning sheet to develop each point in sequence. Having planned their argument, they wrote their initial draft.

The teacher modelled editing to improve the persuasiveness of an argument. He also modelled the use of a thesaurus to improve vocabulary choices, checking spelling with a dictionary, and correcting grammar and punctuation.

The students were expected to take responsibility for editing and proofreading their work in all these areas. There was no direct teacher intervention in their writing.

Once they had done an initial edit and the teacher had seen this, they read their argument aloud to a buddy, who made comments and suggestions about the language features and the general persuasiveness of the piece. The students made any changes they deemed necessary, and then wrote a final draft.

They then published their argument on the computer, where they were allowed to use the spell check, but not the grammar check.

Teacher-student conversations

The teacher talked with each student during each stage of the writing process. They discussed progress, what the student thought they were doing well, and what they still needed to work on. They also focused on deeper language features and techniques.

The teacher discussed the following features with Neala:

• the sequence in which the points and their elaboration were introduced 
• the importance of sentence variation and impact.

Teacher: There are a number of long and rather complicated sentences in your writing. Let's see if we can help the reader by interspersing them with some shorter ones. This might have more impact ... You use "we" in your rhetorical questions, and "you" at the end – what would be most effective, "we" or "you"?

As a result, Neala made some significant changes to her final handwritten draft.

It is also possible to note speakers using and integrating a range of processing strategies in the national oral language exemplar 'Family Holidays' as they are making their points clear to their listeners. They do this by maintaining control over complex sentence structures, adding to each others' thinking and asking clarifying questions of each other.

Seeks feedback and makes changes to texts to improve clarity, meaning, and effect

Seeks feedback and makes changes to texts to improve clarity, meaning, and effect

What do I need to know?

The impact of effective feedback on student outcomes has been established through a number of studies (for example, Hattie, 1999, and Crooks, 1988). Hattie, on the basis of extensive research, describes feedback as the most powerful single factor that enhances achievement. Like modelling, feedback pervades the school day: most interactions between teachers and students involve some element of feedback.

The purposes of feedback are:

  • to affirm
  • to inform
  • to guide future learning.

Like all the teaching strategies, feedback is most effective when it relates to specific learning goals that students recognise and understand and to the ultimate aim of enabling students to monitor and regulate their own learning. Feedback should always be honest and specific so that students know how they are doing and what they have achieved.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education. 2006. p.86

Students often find it useful to ask their teacher or peers for feedback on their recrafting or their preparation for publishing or presenting. Writers become better writers when they reflect and act on informative, thoughtful, and constructive feedback.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education. 2006. p.158

… the over-riding need is to convey ideas successfully, involving playing with words, testing them to their utmost for clarity and inventiveness, wrestling with them and their meanings to enrich expression and make communication work. For the learner writer… the focus is on revision to make meaning clear.
Dancing With the Pen: the Learner as a Writer. NZ Ministry of Education, 1992. p.55. [abridged]

Proficient writers continually reflect on what they write. They reread their text again and again, both as they write and after writing. This often leads to recrafting (making changes to their text) if the writer thinks of a way to meet their purpose more effectively, clarify their meaning, or give their writing more impact. This process of reflecting on the text and recrafting it is sometimes called revising and editing.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education. 2006. p 158.

Respect for the audience now guides the writer’s effort. In composing and drafting, the writer’s attention was focused on making the meaning as clear and forcible as possible. Now words, spelling and conventions of punctuation, facts, quotations, references, diagrams must all be checked, and corrected if necessary, Any text which is to be read by others should be correct.
Dancing With the Pen: the Learner as a Writer. NZ Ministry of Education, 1992. p.60.

What does it look like?

The following are case studies of teachers giving feedback to students in relation to learning goals in a way that encourages the students to make changes to their writing.

“You went back and cross-checked with what you’d read earlier to clarify your understanding. Making connections with other parts of the text is what expert readers do.” “I notice you’ve checked the punctuation of your piece. But there is something else you need to attend to. Remember that one of your personal writing goals is to check your use of spelling conventions for the plural words in your writing.” “That’s an interesting opinion – but remember our discussion in guided reading this morning about finding evidence in the text. What evidence can you give to justify your opinion that the wolf was afraid?” “I like your choice of language in the second paragraph. I get a clear mental image of what it was like for Josh when he first stepped inside the space station. There’s one part, just here, that I don’t understand – I think it needs elaboration. You may need to go back to the website you’ve been using to get more information to ensure it’s clear to the reader.”
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.87.

The teacher and year 7 students had been working on personal experience writing. The shared goal was “to recount a personal experience in a way that has impact on the reader”. The task was “to share a significant moment in time with a reader”.

The teacher and students had jointly developed the following criteria:

  • feelings suggested through descriptive actions
  • expressive and precise verbs, adjectives, and adverbs used to depict atmosphere
  • use of deliberately selected poetic language features, for example, metaphors, similes, onomatopoeia, and alliteration, to suggest feelings and atmosphere
  • main ideas broken into paragraphs.

This is Jessica’s published text: A Journey Through the Morning Brrr! I couldn’t move, I couldn’t talk, my nose was red and my lips were blue. Who would have thought that an innocent, harmless winters walk to school could suddenly turn into a blistering snowstorm! My fingers were numb as I shivered my way into school and up the stairs. The pins and needles in my left foot felt like a thousand darts jabbing at me. My friends bounded over from the computer to say “hi” to me but I wasn’t listening. All I could think about was getting to the heater. I slowly approached the heater and finally collapsed. I felt the warmth drain back into my veins like water draining through a sieve. I look over to the whiteboard and remember the horrors of the school day. the dreaded climb up the mountain of math’s, the horrifying swim through the waves of writing and finally to conquer the rocks of reading. I slumped down off the heater and groaned as I sat on the ground. I knew then that it was going to be a long day.

The teacher gave Jessica the following written feedback on her published text.

This writing has impact, Jessica – I can feel the coldness of this horrible school morning very clearly. You’ve achieved this by:

  • using full descriptions to “paint a picture”, for example, “my nose was red and my lips were blue”
  • using expressive verbs such as “shivered”, “bounded over”, and “slumped down”
  • using poetic imagery reasonably carefully, especially similes and alliteration – though beware that you don’t over-use these because too many can make writing sound insincere.

You have also begun to experiment with paragraphing clearly. Your goal: To make your tenses consistent in your writing. Avoid moving between the present and past tense (unless there is a reason for doing so).

The teacher gave Jessica feedback that primarily related to the writing rather than the writer. It specified what she had achieved in the writing, it linked specifically to the agreed goal and criteria, and it suggested the next steps in Jessica’s learning. The teacher discussed the feedback with Jessica, and together they decided how Jessica’s goal could be met. This written feedback was supplemented by oral feedback during the writing process.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5-8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.88–89.

The following are teacher-student conversations from the level 4 national writing exemplars that illustrate teachers giving feedback to their students in a way that encourages students to make changes to their writing.

Argument: Feral Cats

After the first draft:

Teacher: In your second paragraph, how could you reinforce that cats are killing machines?

Wiremu: I could use the word "kill" a couple of times in other sentences.

Teacher: Why have you used so many short, punchy sentences?

Wiremu: I wanted to make the cats sound dangerous and harmful. The short sentences get the idea across quickly.

Teacher: What made you use Mâori words where you did?

Wiremu: Because they are ones I know and they are important ones.

Personal Experience: There's an Eagle Ray in the Bay

After the first draft, Joshua and the teacher discussed Joshua's use of imagery.

Teacher: I love this imagery. Can you develop the middle more? Can you give the sea a life? Does it give you an image of an animal? Are there sounds and feelings?

Joshua: It's like a monster roaring.

Teacher: When you think of the forest, what do you see in your mind?

Joshua: It's like witches waving their wands.

Explanations: How Were Mummies Made

After Jay had written his first draft, he discussed it with a partner and then the teacher conferenced with him. The emphasis was on using the passive voice.

Teacher: How did your time with your partner go?

Jay: It was pretty useful. He liked my explanation.

Teacher: Did he make any suggestions to improve your work? I see you're making quite a lot of changes.

Jay: Yeah – he reminded me about changing it around.

Teacher: What do you mean?

Jay: You know, like when I said "they placed the body" I've changed it around to say "the body was placed".

Teacher: Yes, I see you've made a similar change in several places. Do you think that makes a difference to your explanation?

Jay: I do think it sounds better like that.

Teacher: We call that the passive voice. It's common in writing like this, where we need to know what happened, but not necessarily who made it happen.

Character: My Brother Kim

During discussion of the first draft:

Teacher: I'm thinking it could be interesting to include some direct speech if you can. Can you think of something Kim often talks about? What have you got listed in your facts?

Ese: He likes talking about girls!

Teacher: Good, can you be more specific? What might he say when he is talking about girls?

Ese: He goes, "Hey Ese, she looks nice, eh?"

Teacher: Think about adding that so that it builds on what you have there already.

Teacher: I notice that you have to proofread yet. What do you need to do?

Ese: Underline no more than five words that I need to check.

Teacher: Remember what we said about abbreviations.

Ese then revised and proofread his writing.

Is reflective: monitors and self-evaluates progress, articulating learning with confidence.

Is reflective about the production of own texts: monitors and self-evaluates progress, articulating learning with confidence.

What do I need to know?

Proficient writers continually reflect on what they write. They reread their text again and again, both as they write and after writing. This often leads to recrafting (making changes to their text) if the writer thinks of a way to meet their purpose more effectively, clarify their meaning, or give their writing more impact. This process of reflecting on the text and recrafting it is sometimes called revising and editing.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.158.

What does it look like?

The following is a teacher-student conversation from the national writing exemplars (level 4 – Personal Experience –  The Diving Board) in which a student (Anna) reflects on the effectiveness of their text and decides to make changes as a result of this reflection.

Teacher-student conversations

During conferencing with Anna's teacher:

Teacher: Read me your first sentence ... Now, your last sentence ... What have you done?

Anna: I've hooked the first sentence to the last one.

Teacher: I think it's effective in your story. Have you written exactly what you meant to say?

Anna: I don't need "like" in the first sentence, then it's exactly the same as the last one.

Teacher: Can you find the part in "The Poison Ladies" where we can tell that the little boy was frightened? What has the writer done?

Anna: He's given clues without saying that he was frightened.

Teacher: I can imagine that you would have felt really nervous making your way up to the top of the diving board!

Anna: Yes.

Teacher: How did you feel when you were actually going up the steps?

Anna: It was like I was in slow motion, 'cos I didn't really want to go up.

Teacher: How could you show your readers what that was like?

Anna: ... I could say something about going up the steps.

The following 'student explanation' from the national visual language exemplars illustrates a student reflecting about  her work and attempting to evaluate the impact of her work on a possible audience.

"I decided on the red border to represent love. The gold effect reflects the Chinese element in the story and it also matches Allison's kimono. I have tried to copy Chinese lettering into the name "Allison" to show her cultural background.

I decided to ask the question, "Do Allison's new family love her as much as a real family would?" I wanted the audience to be able to answer this by viewing my image. I hope that they think that the answer to this question is "yes". I attempted to show that they do love her as if she was their own child by showing happy and relaxed expressions on their faces.

This image looks a little like a family portrait on the wall - with the red wallpaper behind. Allison, in the middle, looks interesting and special and her parents look boring and dull - very different from Allison. The shape of the question embraces them and brings them together - unites them.

The bright colours catch your eye. I have included a few little extra bits in the image, such as the tree pattern on Allison's dress and on her dad's tie. This represents a family tree. On the mother's necklace it says, "You're not my mummy" and on Mei Mei [the doll's dress], "Where did Mei Mei come from?"

I also tried to make it look a bit more adult, as people my age have read it and enjoyed it, but I think little kids wouldn't get it. They wouldn't understand the concepts about adoption in the book."

By using these processes and strategies when speaking, writing, or presenting, students will:

Purposes and audiences

  • Show an increasing understanding of how to shape texts for different purposes and audiences.

Indicators

What do I need to know?

Constructs texts that show an awareness of purpose and audience through deliberate choice of content, language, and text form

What do I need to know?

Writers should speak first from their own experience and knowledge, in their own voice, maintaining their integrity. However, writers need readers, so they must consider their audience unless they are to end up writing only for themselves. In determining audience successfully, learners will:

  • have clear goals, and know how these will affect their writing
  • feel that what they will write is valuable and interesting to others
  • expect to respond to, and profit from, others' responses and writings
  • distinguish between public and private writing, and the effects of audience on content, clarity, and expression
  • expect to receive help from the teacher, from others, and from examples of writing for different audiences.

Learners ask, "Who is my audience? What do I want them to know?"
Dancing with the Pen, NZ Ministry of Education, 1992. p.34.

There is no such thing as good writing in a vacuum. Teachers need to think about the situations students are asked to write in, the purposes given for writing, and the audience the students are writing for, because all these factors influence the kind of writing produced.
Exploring Language, NZ Ministry of Education, 1996. p.159.

Writers have a range of choices they can make about the way they organise the text, develop the topic or theme, use particular grammatical structures, and choose vocabulary. All these decisions influence how a message is read by the read. Texts are structured in different ways to achieve their purpose. The purpose of a recount is to tell about a past experience – to tell the reader what happened. The purpose of an argument on the other hand, is to persuade the reader to agree with a point of view.
Exploring Language, NZ Ministry of Education, 1996. p.156-157. [abridged]

In order to achieve certain purposes in writing, the language we use reflects three main considerations. (1) What are we writing about? (content influences vocabulary, idioms or phrases). (2) What is our purpose? (language choices and grammatical structures that are associated with a desire to argue, to entertain, to instruct, etc.) (3) Who are we writing for? (language choice and grammatical choices that acknowledge different ways of addressing our parents, our friends, the teacher, the principal, etc.). These three considerations combine to influence the language in use in a text.
asTTle V4 Manual 1.0, Appendix. p.4.

What does it look like?

The following teacher-student conversation from the national written language exemplars (level 4) illustrates a writer (David) considering his choices about content, language and/or text form according to his purpose for writing (persuading the reader) and his intended audience.

Argument - A Change for the Best

The teacher conferenced with David after the initial draft:

Teacher: There are heaps of ways to hook our readers into your argument, but what have you tried to achieve in your thesis?

David: I want the readers to feel sorry for them, and make them think. Appeal by making them think differently.

Teacher: So is it necessary to focus on one school?

David: Nah – I'd better change it, eh? [He later removed the school's name.]

Teacher: Okay – can you read me your introduction? Tell me or show me exactly where your "hook" is in your introduction.

David: "People who don't even want to be at school."

Teacher: Why?

David: Because it's sad that kids feel so bad that they don't want to go to school. I want people to feel bad and sad when they read that part!

Teacher: Any other language features that you want to use in your argument, to persuade?

David: I could get actual facts and be specific.

Teacher: Yes, because you already have one argument from your own ideas and thoughts, eh?

David went back to revise his first draft. He included some findings from his research, using factual information to strengthen his argument.

The following is an example of a student (Florence) considering her purpose and audience as she shapes a visual language text based on the sophisticated picture book 'Solitaire'. 

 "I took time to select my colours. They represent playing cards. Whty playing cards? Well, the book is organised into chapters based on the cards. The cards are a central theme of the book.

Keeping it simple - just using black, red and white - is also effective as it helps things to stand out and provides contrast. Once again, in terms of the font, I linked it to the story. I selected a smaller font to provide a background image. The font I chose for the border is the same as the book.
I decided on "Who am I?" because in the book there are many people who are related to each other but they don't actually know this. By the end of the book, it all comes together and the questions are answered. I chose five quotes from the book to make a border. The book revolves around these five philosophical questions.

The joker is the main figure so it had to be central. The father representes himself as a joker. The queen of hearts represents the mother and the nine of diamonds the boy. He is nine years old so that's why it's a nine of diamonds. As they are both red cards they stand out. I have hidden some questions in the background and also the title and author of the book. I wanted to provide a bit of a trick for the audience. Another reason I decided on cards for the theme is because without some background knowledge of cards I think the reader may find the book a bit confusing".

Teacher-student conversations

Florence had attempted three different drafts. Having found the first two a little complicated and fussy, she discussed the third with the group, and then with the teacher.
Florence: Yes, I wanted the joker to be in the middle as it is the dominant figure. It adds a bit of mystery and is the central character. Well, it’s a weird book but I think the father [joker] is the main character, anyway.
Teacher: Really interesting framing – where did you get that idea from?
Florence: Well I just wanted to keep it black and white to look like a pack of cards, and I needed to include verbal features so I just came up with that idea.
Teacher: I’m just wondering if the font can be enlarged. Can our audience read it easily?
Florence: Can you hold it up and I’ll move back and see. I’ll make it a bit bigger but it will still need to fit on the page.
Teacher: I love the idea of all the small questions for the background. It gives it some depth.
Florence: I’m going to put a trick in there actually. Remember Chris [graphic designer] said he does that sometimes?
Teacher: Great. Now just check the criteria. As there are so many words, remember to leave some white space. Can you think where that will be?
Florence: Well, definitely the joker and the cards themselves.

Conveys and sustains personal voice where appropriate.

Conveys and sustains personal voice where appropriate.

What do I need to know?

"Voice" refers to those aspects of a piece of writing that give it a personal flavour.
New Zealand Curriculum Exemplars. English. N.Z. Ministry of Education. 2003. p.7.

What does it look like?

Anthony Browne's 'Voices in the Park' is a resource that enables students to explore the concept of personal voice through a sophisticated picture book.

Ideas

Select, develop, and communicate ideas on a range of topics

Select, develop, and communicate ideas on a range of topics

What do I need to know?

Crafting or composing a text means recording ideas and information, usually on paper or in electronic form.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.156.

It is important that students and teachers use and create a range and variety of texts in their reading and writing. This enables students’ diverse interests, needs, values, and perspectives to be addressed and also provides many kinds of high-quality examples and models for students’ writing. Students need to learn to read and write many different kinds of texts, including text forms that are unique to the electronic media, for different purposes and audiences.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.124.

Indicators

Forms and communicates ideas and information clearly, drawing on a range of sources

Forms and communicates ideas and information clearly, drawing on a range of sources

What do I need to know?

Students are likely to create their own rich texts when the texts that they write:

  • arise from their interests, imaginations, experiences, or needs
  • motivate and challenge them as writers
  • have a clear and authentic purpose
  • draw on and affirm their own social and cultural identities
  • provide them with opportunities to use appropriate language (vocabulary and language features) to give written form to their own voices
  • encourage thoughtfulness
  • are planned and written to have an impact on the audience.
    Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.131.

What does it look like?

The following is an example of student writing which exemplifies the way that content can be structured to meet the purpose of 'explaining ideas and information' and can be communicated clearly to an audience.

How We Breathe

The title indicates clearly that the text is an explanation, so the writer has decided to begin the actual text with a direct imperative and a word picture to hook her readers in.

HOW WE BREATHE

Imagine that your red blood cells are mini couriers in mini trucks, which take their loads of oxygen on mini highways (arteries), to the big name boss organs (like the brain & heart). Then they pick up their load of carbon dioxide & take them back to the lungs for depositing & it all starts all over again.

The brain instructs the body to inhale through either the nose or the mouth, this air travels down the trachea (wind pipe) then separates off at the bronchi to the two lungs. It then zooms into the alveoli (air sacks) & the red blood cells come & cart off the oxygen to the body parts that need it. While the other red blood cells replace the oxygen with carbon dioxide, which the body makes. Then we exhale & it all starts all over again.

As you can see it’s a rather complicated business this breathing thing. The amazing thing is that it happens around 33,000 times a day & it takes only a third of a second to happen each time.

This text can be described as rich because the writer:

  • makes use of the conventions of an explanation text to provide a clear account of a complex process but takes the text further by crafting an introductory and concluding paragraph intended to hook readers in and to leave them smiling
  • opens with a vivid metaphor, sustains it in the first paragraph, and picks it up again briefly in the second paragraph
  • enlivens her description of the breathing process with evocative verbs, such as “zooms” and “cart off”
  • clarifies metaphorical or technical terms that could be misunderstood in such a way that the definitions do not interfere with the flow of the text
  • challenges the readers to think about the topic by addressing them directly, by prompting them to visualise the process using the metaphor, and by including her own opinion in the final paragraph
  • uses a chatty, personal style and conveys that the information she is sharing is interesting and surprising
  • skilfully combines informal and formal language to meet her purpose, switching readily between addressing the audience directly and recounting a process.
    Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.137.

Adds or changes details and comments to support ideas, showing thoughtful selection

Adds or changes details and comments to support ideas, showing thoughtful selection in the process

What do I need to know?

Proficient writers continually reflect on what they write. They reread their text again and again, both as they write and after writing. This often leads to recrafting (making changes to their text) if the writer thinks of a way to meet their purpose more effectively, clarify their meaning, or give their writing more impact. This process of reflecting on the text and recrafting it is sometimes called revising and editing.....The writer may make further changes to their text to enhance the way it will look or sound to the intended audience. Students often find it useful to ask their teacher or peers for feedback on their recrafting or their preparation for publishing or presenting. Writers become better writers when they reflect and act on informative, thoughtful, and constructive feedback.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.158.

Writers make changes to their texts after rereading, evaluating and seeking feedback, usually to clarify the meaning or add to the impact, for example, by:

  • adding words or ideas
  • changing the way words and ideas are organised in the text
  • replacing words with better ones or deleting redundant words
  • adding language features or improving them.
    Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.158.

The second [aim of the composing and drafting stage of the writing process], is the over-riding need to convey ideas successfully, involving playing with words, testing them to their utmost for clarity and inventiveness, wrestling with them and their meanings to enrich expression and make communication work… For the learner writer at this stage, the focus is on revision to make meaning clear.
Dancing With the Pen: The Learner as a Writer. NZ Ministry of Education, 1992. p.55.

Respect for the audience now guides the writer’s effort. In composing and drafting the writer’s attention was focused on making the meaning as clear and forcible as possible. Now words, spelling, the conventions of punctuation, facts, quotations, references, diagrams must all be checked, and corrected if necessary. Any text which is to be read by others should be correct.
Dancing With the Pen: The Learner as a Writer. NZ Ministry of Education. 1992. p.60.

Ideas show increasing awareness of a range of dimensions or viewpoints

Ideas show increasing awareness of a range of dimensions or viewpoints

What do I need to know?

Taking a story or play or article and re-presenting it in another form is a useful way of enabling writers to see how form and meaning affect each other. The same content may succeed in two different forms but whatever form is chosen, it will, by its very nature, affect the content which is expressed. A poem on hunger could properly contain material which would be excluded from a science description, and vice versa.
Dancing With the Pen: The Learner as a Writer. NZ Ministry of Education. 1992. p.54.

Language features

Uses a range of language features, showing increasing understanding of their effects

Uses a range of language features appropriately, showing an increasing understanding of their effects

What do I need to know?

Students should understand that all texts are intended for an audience (the audience is sometimes the writer) and that effective texts have an impact on their readers. They also need to know about the text features that writers use to achieve the desired impact. The deeper features of a text generally relate to the writer’s purpose and voice and include the structure and language features of the text.

Readers and writers need to know that there are different text forms and that these are generally characterised by a particular structure and certain other features. Forms such as stories, recounts, reports, procedures, arguments, explanations, varieties of poetry, and plays all have characteristic structures and features that are linked to their different purposes. Students need to know about the structures and features associated with each of these text forms.

The characteristic features of any text form (which can be used to identify the form of a text) are likely to include specific structural and language features and may include specific kinds of content, vocabulary, and/or surface features.

Students also need to know that the features usually associated with one form can often be effectively used in another, depending on the purpose for writing. Poetic vocabulary and selected imagery, for example, can be used to increase the impact of a report or an argument.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.34–35. [abridged]. 

Indicators

Uses a range of features to create meaning and effect, and to sustain interest

Uses a range of oral, written, and visual features to create meaning and effect, and to sustain interest

What do I need to know?

Writers re-read their writing to evaluate its impact (especially the effect of the voacbulary, structure and language features), seeking and acting on feedback about how their choices may affect the intended audience.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006.p.158.

What does it look like?

The following teacher-student conversation about writing suggests that the writer (Jessica) was prepared to think closely about the effect of the language features she was using in her text.

Jessica’s teacher held a conference with Jessica after she had completed the first draft of her text.

Brrr! I couldn’t move, I couldn’t talk, my lips and nose were frozen. Who would of thought that an innocent harmless winters walk to school could suddenly turn into a blizzering snowstorm. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit. OK a whole lot, but seriously have you been out there?

I shiver my way into school and up the stairs. My friends were saying “hi” to me but I wasn’t listening. All I could concentrate on was getting to the heater. I slowly approached the heater and finally clappesed on to it. Warmth! I felt the warmth strain back into my veins. I looked over to the whiteboard and remember the horrors of the school day. Climbing the mountain of maths, the swim through the waves of writing, concuering the rocks of reading. This was going to be a long day! I knew then that it was.

Teacher “I shiver my way into school and up the stairs” – good use of an expressive, precise verb. Are you happy that the first part of the paragraph conveys the atmosphere you want?

Jessica Do you think a poetic image would be good in there?

Teacher Up to you, but think about the dangers of using too many poetic images – it’s easy to overdo this. Really good, strong images throughout, Jessica. How do you feel about the surface features?

Jessica They’re OK, though I know I’ve got some spelling to check.

Teacher You’ve indicated that with your underlining – good. I want you to check your paragraphing as well. You’ve done some. Remember, that’s one of our criteria.

The following teacher-student conversation also suggests that this writer (Joshua) was prepared to think closely about the effect of the language features that he was using in his text. 

After the first draft, Joshua and the teacher discussed Joshua's use of imagery.

Teacher: I love this imagery. Can you develop the middle more? Can you give the sea a life? Does it give you an image of an animal? Are there sounds and feelings?

Joshua: It's like a monster roaring.

Teacher: When you think of the forest, what do you see in your mind?

Joshua: It's like witches waving their wands.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006.p.56.

Uses a range of vocabulary to communicate precise meaning

Uses a range of vocabulary to communicate precise meaning

What do I need to know?

Crafting or composing a text means recording ideas and information, usually on paper or in electronic form. The student creates a text to meet the writing purpose and engage the intended audience by writing down the best possible words in the best possible order, using and extending their knowledge of English vocabulary and syntax.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5-8, NZ Ministry of Education. 2006. p.156.

All texts are made up of words and phrases. It’s important to expand students’ awareness and appreciation of language and to help them build up their personal vocabularies. Developing an extensive vocabulary enables students to improve both their reading comprehension and their writing.

Every classroom needs a thesaurus, a comprehensive dictionary, and multiple copies of student dictionaries. Bilingual dictionaries in students’ first languages should also be available where possible. Instructional reading and writing sessions, cross-curricular work, and discussions of current events can be used as springboards to launch students into the study of words – investigating synonyms and antonyms, collecting and discussing examples of homophones and homonyms, or sharing the discovery of a new and unusual word or figure of speech.

It’s part of a teacher’s planning to think carefully about the vocabulary in any text that they are planning to use in their literacy programme (for example, in guided reading). Teachers also need to consider the vocabulary that students will need for a writing task. Published lists with information about vocabulary frequency can be useful in helping teachers to monitor and extend their students’ vocabulary.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5-8, NZ Ministry of Education. 2006. p.126-127.[abridged]

Knowing about different categories of vocabulary

High-frequency words: High-frequency words are the words most often used in a language and make up over eighty percent of most written text. There are about two thousand high-frequency word families in the English language. These include all the basic words needed for communicating in English.

Specialised academic vocabulary: Students need to learn new, subject-specific words for every subject they study. One reason for students finding certain academic words difficult to learn is that many words have a general, everyday meaning as well as a subject-specific meaning. For example “volume”, “range” and “function” all have both everyday and specialised meanings.
Effective Literacy Strategies in Years 9-13, Ministry of Education, 2004. p.28. [abridged]

Assessment Resource banks: Specialised Language

What does it look like?

The following teacher-student conversations demonstrate writers thinking about the impact of the vocabulary they are using.

Jessica’s teacher held a conference with Jessica after she had completed the first draft of her text.

Brrr! I couldn’t move, I couldn’t talk, my lips and nose were frozen. Who would of thought that an innocent harmless winters walk to school could suddenly turn into a blizzering snowstorm. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit. OK a whole lot, but seriously have you been out there?

I shiver my way into school and up the stairs. My friends were saying “hi” to me but I wasn’t listening. All I could concentrate on was getting to the heater. I slowly approached the heater and finally clappesed on to it. Warmth! I felt the warmth strain back into my veins. I looked over to the whiteboard and rember the horrors of the school day. Climbing the mouintain of maths, the swim through the waves of writing, concuering the rocks of reading. This was going to be a long day! I knew then that it was.

Teacher “I shiver my way into school and up the stairs” – good use of an expressive, precise verb. Are you happy that the first part of the paragraph coveys the atmosphere you want?

Jessica Do you think a poetic image would be good in there?

Teacher Up to you, but think about the dangers of using too many poetic images – it’s easy to overdo this. Really good, strong images throughout, Jessica. How do you feel about the surface features?

Jessica They’re OK, though I know I’ve got some spelling to check.

Teacher You’ve indicated that with your underlining – good. I want you to check your paragraphing as well. You’ve done some. Remember, that’s one of our criteria.

After the first draft:

Teacher: In your second paragraph, how could you reinforce that cats are killing machines?
Wiremu: I could use the word "kill" a couple of times in other sentences.
Teacher: Why have you used so many short, punchy sentences?
Wiremu: I wanted to make the cats sound dangerous and harmful. The short sentences get the idea across quickly.
Teacher: What made you use Māori words where you did?
Wiremu: Because they are ones I know and they are important ones.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5-8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.56.

The following strategies and units provide opportunities for students to explore vocabulary through a range of activities

Demonstrates a good understanding of spelling patterns, with few intrusive errors

Demonstrates a good understanding of spelling patterns in written English, with few intrusive errors

What do I need to know?

Students also need to know the rules that apply for using particular spelling patterns in words, where such rules exist. For example, it is useful to know that “oy” usually goes at the end of a syllable and “oi” at the beginning or in the middle of a syllable. Even when there is no rule, knowing the options is still helpful. For example, a student who gets feedback that “er” is not how to spell the er sound in “hurt” needs to be able to think: How else could I spell the er sound? Could it be an “ir” (“stir”), or an “ur” (“fur”), or could it be written like “were” (“ere”) or “early” (“ear”)? The student could then check the dictionary if necessary (although when students write down the options, they often recognise the correct spelling when they see it).
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5-8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.164.

What does it look like?

Exploring spelling patterns in a shared writing session One of my reading groups had been reading an article about the effects of water on the landscape, and one aspect we had discussed was erosion. A little later, the class was writing a shared explanation of how water makes changes to the landscape. I began by inviting the group who had read the article to share what they had learned. Eli said, “We learned that water can cause large amounts of rock, soil, and other debris to move. I think it was called erosion.” I encouraged him to frame this into a sentence for our shared piece of writing. He said, “Water can cause large amounts of rock, soil, and debris to move. It’s called erosion.” I scribed this until I came to “erosion”. I wanted the class to consider how it might be spelled.“How do you think we write this word?” I asked.Josh said, “I think it’s e-r-o-tion”.“Yes, the first part’s correct,” I agreed, “but the ending of this word is a bit tricky.The ending ‘-tion’ usually sounds like ‘shin’ as in ‘station’ and ‘fiction’, but ‘erosion’ isn’t quite the same. Listen carefully to the sound. Think of other words that have the same sound.”Chelsea volunteered “explosion”.

“Exactly, it’s ero-sion,” I confirmed.

Teacher, year 6 class
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5-8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.33.

Uses a wide range of strategies to self-monitor and self-correct spelling

Uses a wide range of strategies to self-monitor and self-correct spelling

What do I need to know?

Spelling strategies for writing and proofreading

Student writers need to learn strategies for spelling unfamiliar words. Teachers can encourage their students to make connections to words that sound the same, to think about the spelling patterns that they already know, to analyse a word in terms of what it means, to write down possible spellings and see how they look, to consult other writers, and to use dictionaries and phonetic spellcheckers.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5-8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.165.

What does it look like?

Exploring spelling patterns in a shared writing session One of my reading groups had been reading an article about the effects of water on the landscape, and one aspect we had discussed was erosion. A little later, the class was writing a shared explanation of how water makes changes to the landscape. I began by inviting the group who had read the article to share what they had learned. Eli said, “We learned that water can cause large amounts of rock, soil, and other debris to move. I think it was called erosion.” I encouraged him to frame this into a sentence for our shared piece of writing. He said, “Water can cause large amounts of rock, soil, and debris to move. It’s called erosion.” I scribed this until I came to “erosion”. I wanted the class to consider how it might be spelled.“How do you think we write this word?” I asked.

Josh said, “I think it’s e-r-o-tion”.

“Yes, the first part’s correct,” I agreed, “but the ending of this word is a bit tricky.The ending ‘-tion’ usually sounds like ‘shin’ as in ‘station’ and ‘fiction’, but ‘erosion’ isn’t quite the same. Listen carefully to the sound. Think of other words that have the same sound.”

Chelsea volunteered “explosion”.

“Exactly, it’s ero-sion,” I confirmed.

Teacher, year 6 class
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5-8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.33.

The following ARB items relate to students' ability to identify and correct common spelling patterns and errors:

Writes with increasing speed to suit the nature of the task, without significant loss of legibility

Writes with increasing speed and endurance to suit the nature of the task and its purpose, without significant loss of legibility

What do I need to know?

Effective presentation of text is important, especially for writers who want to publish or share their writing formally with an audience. Some students will choose or be required to present their texts in handwritten form. To do this well, they need to be able to handwrite fluently, legibly, with reasonable speed, and in a style that suggests reasonable maturity to the reader. Many students will present themselves as proficient in handwriting; others will require regular and focused instruction in it.

Students who cannot yet write fluently and legibly need explicit instruction in letter formation. Teachers can note the aspects that need working on and provide opportunities for their students to practise them.

The basic script recommended to schools and suggestions for teaching it effectively are presented in the handbook Teaching Handwriting (Department of Education, 1985).
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5-8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.166. [abridged]

There is evidence of the value of using a keyboard and computer screen for writing. The computer supports students’ writing development because it enables them to revise a text quickly and easily without the manual labour of rewriting. This allows them to focus on their ideas and on the processes they are using, which helps them to develop metacognitive understandings about how meaning can be constructed through writing. It is important that, to avoid adverse effects on their health, students learn and use the correct posture and keyboard skills for concentrated reading or writing on computer. (However, when discussing electronic texts, they may adopt more relaxed positions.)
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5-8, NZ Ministry of Education.,2006. p 166-167. [abridged]

Uses a range of text conventions appropriately, effectively, and with increasing accuracy

Uses a range of text conventions, including grammatical conventions, appropriately, effectively, and with increasing accuracy

What do I need to know?

When students begin to develop as readers and writers, they realise that there is a relationship between what they say or hear and the written text they create or read. They learn the importance of sounds, of words, and of the flow and rhythm of language. They learn that words, sentences, and texts are formed according to recognised conventions. They learn that words and the way people use them can evoke an emotional response. They learn that texts can entertain and inform and that it is worthwhile and enjoyable to listen to, read, view, and create them.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5-8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.33.

Exploring Language. Visual Language : Genres and Conventions

What does it look like?

In this example of a published poem the writer uses text conventions such as layout, punctuation and poetic devices effectively.

Camp Poem” by Kate Baxter

The writer of this published text creates an image of life at a school camp through poetry. Her writing shows that a simple text can also be a rich text.

Pole to fabric, peg to mud, shoe to chicken poo, toothbrush to teeth (not), hands to flax, knife to pumice, gaff to eel, rock to rooster’s head (if he doesn’t shut up), rain to tent, togs to river, towel to plate, plate to cupboard, hand to puppet, supper to stomach, head to pillow.

The writer invites the reader to make connections to their own experiences of school camps or camping and to speculate on the writer’s feelings.

This text can be described as rich because the writer:

  • carefully selects typical camp items and sequences these in a way that vividly suggests the whole experience of the camp (from putting up the tent to going to sleep)
  • uses the simple but effective poetic device of structural repetition to help create rhythm and pace and suggest an action-filled experience
  • invites the reader to “fill in the gaps”, to speculate on what the writer isn’t saying (apart from two brief comments) about her personal responses to her experiences
  • uses humour to engage the reader further (“shoe to chicken poo”, “toothbrush to teeth (not)”
  • omits unnecessary words to maintain a spare, laconic tone, sustain the rhythm, and encourage the reader to add details based on their own experience.

Uses grammatical conventions, appropriately, effectively, and with increasing accuracy

Uses a range of text conventions, including grammatical conventions, appropriately, effectively, and with increasing accuracy

What do I need to know?

The student creates a text to meet the writing purpose and engage the intended audience by writing down the best possible words in the best possible order, using and extending their knowledge of English vocabulary and syntax.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5-8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006.p.156.

Exploring Language: The Grammar Toolbox

What does it look like?

The grammatical conventions expected of level 4 students are included in the asTTle level 4 Surface Feature indicators below.

Structure

Organise texts using a range of appropriate structures

Organise texts using a range of appropriate structures

What do I need to know?

Structure is the sequence and flow of ideas within a piece of text. It allows the reader to understand the connections between different ideas.
New Zealand Curriculum Exemplars. English. N.Z. Ministry of Education. 2003. p.7.

Structure. This dimension of text refers to the ordering or organisation that a writer demonstrates in his/her text. The focus here is on the management of text through sequencing and linking of ideas. There are two main ways in which organisation is seen to operate. There is the “global” organisation of the text, dealing with sequence from start to finish. This kind of paragraphing may be a tool used by a writer to group ideas and between paragraph links. Another way in which text may be organised is through the linking of ideas within and across sentences (by using conjunctions, adverbials and adjectivals). This may be particularly useful in texts where the job of the writer is to explain. In such texts, cause and effect sequences need to be made explicit.
asTTleV4 Manual. Writing/Tuhituhi, p.4.

Readers and writers need to know that there are different text forms and that these are generally characterised by a particular structure and certain other features. Forms such as stories, recounts, reports, procedures, arguments, explanations, varieties of poetry, and plays all have characteristic structures and features that are linked to their different purposes. Students … need to know about the structures and features associated with each of these text forms.

The characteristic features of any text form (which can be used to identify the form of a text) are likely to include specific structural and language features and may include specific kinds of content, vocabulary, and/or surface features.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5-8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.34.

What does it look like?

The following case study illustrates a teacher working with a group of students to learn about the structure of a text type (explanations) in order to organise the content of an explanation text effectively:

This syndicate had evidence that many of their students were not aware of the purpose of an explanation and lacked basic knowledge of the structure and features of this text form, which was one that they needed to be able to read and write in more than one subject area. The teachers decided that the school’s planning for a science fair could provide an authentic opportunity to teach the information and develop students’ awareness of explanations.

When planning our science, social studies, or technology topics, we always look for ways of extending our students as readers and writers. For the science fair, they had to explain their experiments and discoveries clearly, and we confirmed, from their first attempts, that they hadn’t yet learned to do this. So we found some examples of scientific explanations at the right reading level and explored these with the students during shared and guided reading, to identify the features of explanatory texts. Then, during writing, we explicitly taught them how to write up their scientific discoveries and explanations using the reading texts as models. The judge of the science fair specifically commented on how clear our students’ written explanations were.

Syndicate leader, years 7 and 8
Effective literacy Practice Years 5-8, NZ Ministry of Education

Features of text forms is a resource to help teachers explore the structure and features of different text forms with their students.

Indicators

Achieves some coherence and wholeness when constructing texts

Achieves some coherence and wholeness when constructing texts

What do I need to know?

Structure /Organisation

This dimension of text refers to the ordering or organisation that a writer demonstrates in his/her text. The focus here is on the management of text through sequencing and linking of ideas. There are two main ways in which organisation is seen to operate. There is the “global” organisation of the text, dealing with sequence from start to finish. This kind of paragraphing may be a tool used by a writer to group ideas and between paragraph links. Another way in which text may be organised is through the linking of ideas within and across sentences (by using conjunctions, adverbials and adjectivals). This may be particularly useful in texts where the job of the writer is to explain. In such texts, cause and effect sequences need to be made explicit.
asTTle V4 Manual 1.0, Appendix. p.3.

Organises and sequences ideas and information for a particular purpose or effect

Organises and sequences ideas and information for a particular purpose or effect

What do I need to know?

Learning through ordering information for writing. Helping writers become conscious of form is a major teaching task. This applies not just to the understanding of the characteristics of different genre but also what makes an example of structure within a genre good or bad. Sequencing, relevance, and logic are important aspects to develop, as are the use of contrast, comparison, example, and recapitulation to make meaning or emphasis clear. When learners organise their information for a purpose, they often create their first real understanding of their topic.
Adapted from Dancing With the Pen: the Learner as a Writer. NZ Ministry of Education, 1992. p.46.

Writers have a range of choices they can make about the way they organise the text, develop the topic or theme, use particular grammatical structures, and choose the vocabulary. All these decisions influence how the message is read by the reader. … The purpose of the writing influences the overall structure of texts; however, writers also use different language, depending upon the situation in which the texts are to be used. Writing can range from "close" personal writing (expressive) at one end of a continuum, to "distant" impersonal (often transactional) writing at the other.
Exploring Language, NZ Ministry of Education, 1996, p.156. [abridged]

Uses a variety of sentence structures, beginnings, and lengths for effect

Uses a variety of sentence structures, beginnings, and lengths for effect

What do I need to know?

At Level 4, students should be able to use a variety of sentence structures, beginnings and lengths for effect.
The New Zealand Curriculum Exemplars - English - Written Language - Matrix of Progress Indicators (Deeper features)

Sentences
A sentence is a group of words that makes sense on its own.

simple sentence consists of one clause.

My DaD like Fines. [My Dad likes friends.]

compound sentence has two or more clauses joined by a co-ordinating conjunction. The clauses are of equal weight; that is, they are both main clauses.

Mi Gran has bAn heR and Grancome in The pleoel weTh me. [My Gran has brown hair and Gran comes in the pool with me.]

complex sentence consists of a main clause, joined to one or more subordinate clauses.

However, even if all this is done cats will still kill.

Minor sentences are also called elliptical sentences. They are sentences in which part of the structure has been omitted. They are more common in conversation than written language.

What does it look like?

Updated on: 11 Oct 2015




Footer: