Being Explicit When Teaching Writing Craft Strategies

Teaching the craft of writing requires teachers to be explicit in their work with students. This occurs when we provide a progressive and sequential program of instruction when we are clear about what it is we want children to learn and when we provide a meaningful, focused program of instruction.

When consideration is given to focused learning we need to provide students with opportunities to make sense of the learning by creating purposeful connections between lesson purposes, lesson tasks and texts, and lesson reviews or conclusions. If these aspects of our lesson align, we increase our chances of success.

When introducing a new craft strategy we need to:

Explain to students the purpose of the instruction and why you have chosen to involve them in such instruction;
Explain the strategy explicitly, specifically saying what it is, and how and when it should be used;
Model the strategy in authentic writing situations, saying when it is most useful or even when it is not applicable;
Think aloud about strategy use as you use it;
Consider using the strategy collaboratively with your students before they attempt it independently
Encourage your students to explain to each other how they are processing this new information about writing;
Emphasize that choosing an appropriate strategy is important and that different strategies may be applied in different situations;
Guide students’ practice of the strategy in small groups and individually, gradually releasing responsibility to them;
Make sure that your students are involved in a lot of rich dialogue about what they are writing and what they are doing to help improve their writing;
Relate the use of the strategy to their own independent writing;
Provide many opportunities for students to use the strategy independently.

Strategy instruction may be undertaken with the whole class, in small groups or with individuals, but it is stressed that as your students practice the strategies there is a clear expectation that they transfer them to their own independent writing. Asking questions such as the following will remind your students about this transfer.

“How could you use this strategy in your own writing?”
“How could this to help you with your future writing?”


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