To learn all the skills necessary for written expression, a highly structured, explicit, systematic teaching approach is needed with many opportunities for students to practise and apply learned skills.
Students must be taught to identify the features and structures of texts when reading and work towards transferring their spoken language into written work. Providing students with the structure and strategies for building suitable sentences and paragraphs, and the composition of simple texts, will give them the foundation skills necessary to write effectively in the upper primary and secondary years.
The structure of a paragraph varies based on the text it is written for (e.g. descriptive, narrative, persuasive); however, all typically follow a common pattern. A paragraph generally begins with a topic sentence which introduces the main idea, and is followed by sentences supporting or describing the topic. Young or struggling writers should first be taught to construct their paragraph with their topic sentence as the first sentence. When students become more proficient at writing sentences and constructing paragraphs, they can be shown how to position a topic sentence in the middle of a paragraph for effect.