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.

 

When approaching the effective teaching of written expression, a strong literacy program will include the following:
  • Explicit and structured teaching of written language conventions and literary techniques
  • Direct and explicit instruction in literary genres and text structures
  • Guided and repeated composition practice to improve fluency
  • Direct and robust instruction in vocabulary and word choice
  • Explicit teaching of the grammatical structure of spoken and written language


Students need to be taught to write simple, grammatically correct sentences before learning to write compound and complex sentences. Sentence-level activities should also teach basic editing skills. Grammar must be taught in the context of combining words and building sentences, not just analysing parts of speech in isolation. Words must be combined to communicate thoughts and ideas meaningfully. Word banks can be a useful tool to support the generation and organisation of ideas; however, students also need to be taught the function of the words and how to use them in their writing.

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.

 

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