The next challenge for teachers of students with literacy difficulties is that their writing strategies often become as ritualised and ineffective as their reading strategies. Such traumatised students do not recognise or learn to use writing strategies that appear in their reading texts.
Writing strategies that are part of the Accelerated Literacy teaching sequence provide a secure context for learning about effective writing techniques. The common knowledge developed around the study text includes understanding about the techniques authors use to write narrative. All authors draw on these techniques and our students can learn to use them too.
Joint Reconstructed Writing frames the move from the spelling strategies into writing. Here students use the words they have learned to spell to reconstruct the study text the way the author wrote it. They experience far less cognitive overload as they know what to write, what words to use and how to spell them.
Moving into other writing strategies may mean the need to offer different levels of support for marginalised students, while still allowing them to write more with less support if they can. There is a place for Joint Construction of text where the teacher works with students to use the writing strategies they have learned about from their reading.
AL teaching uses writing workshops where students work with the teacher to practice writers’ techniques. If they were reading a character description that influences readers to dislike a character, then the writing workshop would allow students to pattern their writing on that of the author of their study text and write similar character descriptions that could affect a reader’s emotions. This workshop activity could be done as joint construction first and then with each student working independently.
There is also a place for completely free or independent writing, where students plan and write narratives of their own and where they practice using the writing techniques that have been the focus of the teaching sequence.
In addition, there is a strong oral language component throughout the teaching sequence as the discussion that develops around lessons on the study text will be rich and literate.
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