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Ministry of Education.

Ideas for the Classroom: Exploring Written Language

Purpose: Exploring Written Language

Strands: Reading and Writing


  • 1/2
  • 3/4
  • 5/6
  • 7/8

Possible Contexts Shared, guided, and independent reading time.

Reading and writing conferences.

Working with focus groups.

Topic tasks and discussions.

All curriculum areas. Shared, guided, and independent reading time.

Group and whole class investigations.

Topic studies.

All curriculum areas.

Within writing programmes. Instructional, guided, and independent reading.

Writing for a range of purposes and in different contexts.

Focused study of genre: how writers adapt to audience and purpose. A language research project, such as:

  • how language changes over time;
  • a study of the etymology of a specific vocabulary;
  • a comparative language study.

Suggested Activities Students encounter a wide range of text types as models.

Teacher uses, and encourages students to use, appropriate terminology to describe and discuss written texts. For example, in reading: "I know he is old by the adjective 'craggy'"; in writing: "I like the use of the five adjectival phrases in your report."

Teacher and students explore and compare language features in a wide range of text types. Students encounter different text types in reading and writing and use them as models for their own writing.

Teacher and students log the variety of written language used in a day.

Tasks are designed to give students experience in using a range of text types. For example, in a study of native plants, students:

  • read several texts;
  • draw and label a diagram;
  • write a description of one plant for a class reference book. Continued exposure to a wide variety of text types. Students compare language features in different text types. For example, in a text type game:
  • Three sets of cards show audience, purpose, and text type.
  • Students select a card from each set until an appropriate combination is made.
  • Groups draft and share a text, justifying the choice of language features to suit the combination. Teacher and students explore and compare structures and conventions in languages other than English.

Students research derivations and changes in selected English words.

Teacher and students:

  • Select a literary text such as a poem.
  • Analyse the author's structural and word choices.
  • Write their own poem in a similar style, justifying language choices.
  • Terminology Words and word classes.
  • Sentences and types of sentences.
  • Tenses.
  • Punctuation.
  • Words and word classes.
  • Sentences and structures.
  • Presentation. Punctuation.
  • Genre and the range of text types.
  • Language features appropriate to text type.
  • All previous terminology.

Exploring Language content page

Exploring Language is reproduced by permission of the publishers Learning Media Limited on behalf of Ministry of Education, P O Box 3293, Wellington, New Zealand, © Crown, 1996.

Published on: 25 Feb 2009