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

Laura's class - learning inquiry

What happened as a result of Laura’s teaching?

After several lessons, students produced a detailed and descriptive paragraph as their final product. Students were able to think about and articulate the elements involved in convincing characterisation. These skills will be revisited as students are expected to produce longer and more developed pieces of writing. In this lesson, the students thought deeply about the details they wanted to include in their planning - some of which were not used in the final paragraph - in order to create a more interesting and developed character. Laura created a set of evaluative questions for students to use which detailed the criteria needed in a piece of creative writing at Curriculum Level 5. She developed questions for self and peer review. As a result of self, peer and group review, students were developing confidence in evaluating their writing. They were also using other students in the class as experts that they could seek support from and this is something that will continue into future learning. This is a valuable, differentiated feedback strategy so all students can gain confidence in evaluating their writing.

Video clip: Peer feedback


Student 1:
"The only thing that Michael could hear was the zoom off the cars accelerating, and a few honks and beeps. He could also smell a faint tinge of smoke in the air but after that, nothing seemed out of the ordinary."

Student 2:
That was really good. So you're thinking... you think you need a change in there, and how do you know you need to change it?

Student 1:
I think I should add a little bit more of Michael's thoughts so people could know what his character and traits are. I know that I need to add more characterisation in this because in my last lesson that I had, my teacher said that adding characterisation makes the story better.

I feel that characterisation adds more thoughts and feelings and emotion into the character, which helps the story, which helps readers to find the story more interesting.

Student 3:
Well the way I evaluated mine was, I just used the checklist that the teacher gave us, and just went through my story and made sure it kind of went with all the ...

Student 2:
The little different things in the story, so they all matched up. Yeah, that works. Like I suppose if you get a story, sometimes you feel like there isn't... you're missing something. And you can look on there, you can just see if you've got it all or not. It's like a guideline. Yeah.

Student 1:
I think that the peer evaluation is really helpful for me because it allows my people.. my readers who read my story, give me feedback on what I could change or add.

Student 2:
You've got these two bits for this creative writing checklist. You've got a self-evaluation. So you're looking at the story and you're checking up on the different bits in your sort of own personal view. Say, have you used emotions in your story and stuff? So it's stuff you can sort of control. Then you've got the other bits, the peer evaluation. And it's... so you're getting another person's opinion and it's similar type of questions, but they've got a different type of edge to them. So you're getting another person's ideas and thoughts into your story.

So I can tell this stuff's at... it's got the level five work of the, sort of, English writing curriculum in it. You've got different things sort of covering a lot of the things that you need to have in a really good piece of writing. Like it's got, yeah, the character has emotions in the story, and it's got a beginning, a middle, and an end. So this type of stuff is working towards.. working at level five for the writing curriculum.

Student 4:
Being in a group helped me learn much better because, you know, other people's opinions and you can actually know what other people think about your writing, which means you can make your story much better and much more appealing to other people.

Student 5:
I like having a lot of choice in my work because I'm always doing something, I'm not just like stopping and not doing anything. And my friends are motivating me on, and I'm using the most of my time and learning a lot.

What evidence did Laura draw on from her own practice or that of her colleagues?

She was aware of the need for detailed background knowledge in terms of creating convincing and effective writing. She used superheroes to teach general knowledge about characterisation techniques, as this is a topic that interested her students and therefore engaged them in the process.

Laura's class - what happened next?

Published on: 25 Oct 2012

Effective pedagogy

Enhancing the relevance of new learning

Students learn most effectively when they understand what they are learning, why they are learning it, and how they will be able to use their new learning. Effective teachers stimulate the curiosity of their students, require them to search for relevant information and ideas, and challenge them to use or apply what they discover in new contexts or in new ways. (NZC p34)