Why do students find writing so difficult? They have the tools, yet many students simply cannot bring everything together.

Last week, we had the privilege to present to principals and curriculum leaders at the ‘ISQ Big Ideas Conference’ at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre where independent schools shared best practice examples of how they are using a growing body of evidence on education impact to develop pioneering and inspiring learning spaces and programs to enhance student learning in their local communities.

Our big idea presentation focused on a structured approach to writing that:

  • shows students what to use when writing – and when to use it
  • mimics the process used by accomplished writers
  • if internalised, should dramatically improve student writing

In 2020, we noted that a number of our students were struggling with writing.  We realised some fundamental changes to what we were doing were needed if we were to address this issue. As such we started our journey by looking at the way our students approach writing with most using this linear process.

In terms of editing, to a child, means modifying two words, adding a full stop, and then handing in the piece as completed. This needed to change.

We then looked at the process used by an accomplished writer.  An accomplished writer writes a section, reads over it, makes changes, expands, makes changes, expands further – it is not a linear process at all.  It cycles.

It was time to radically alter our students’ entire mindset around writing. Our learners needed a step-by-step process of when to do what; when to use the tools that are being taught to them in the earlier years.  As a result, we designed a ‘Recipe’ for students to follow; something that states the ingredients – the tools – they need and a procedure to follow.

We are now two years into a five-year trial.  During this first phase, we have gathered significant data and have continued to refine the process. At this time, we are pleased to say that we are seeing positive results.

In the words of our learners:

  • “My goal, not just for my next piece of writing, but for every single piece of writing I do from now on is to use the mix phases. I want to do this because the recipe makes me feel more confident and enthusiastic about English and writing than I have before.”
  • “I think I can use this in all my subjects to make them better. It has vastly improved my confidence while easily being able to edit. Finally, I believe I could try to use more advanced punctuation.”
  • “I’ve never written so much, and it is so good.”

We look forward to sharing our results with you in the future.

Ms Brigitta Brookman and Mr David Allen
Year 6 Teachers