Teachers can tell students “plan your writing” over and over, and yet most students still will not plan. We need to model how to plan and we need to do it often in varying ways.
In my Year 11 Business class this week I got my students to first read a short article about RedBull’s promotional campaigns and their engagement with the consumer on social media. I reviewed the TEEL paragraph structure and gave my template out to students who needed another copy. Then I asked students to write 2 paragraphs about: how is digital marketing used in Business and what are the advantages for Businesses and consumers. I let them write quietly for about 15 minutes.
I got the attention of my students and asked them: “Who did some type of planning for this writing first?” THREE out of 25 students had done some type of planning; mainly highlighting the text and writing main points on their paper. I decided to model how I would have approached the planning of this writing task to the whole class. I had not planned to do this, which I believe was a benefit because my thinking about the topic and how the main points link with each other to make up a paragraph was evident (I did all my thinking out-loud for the class). First I highlighted main points in the article. I created my plan (like a mind-map) and then proceeded to show them how I sometimes like to number the points in order of how I plan to write about them. I also labelled “L” for linking paragraph and “T” for topic sentence. I showed them how from my simple mind-map I had outlined the main ideas/points I would write about in the 8 to 9 sentences of 2 paragraphs; in an exam situation this helps a lot and makes it less likely that you will forget your plan or how your points relate to each other.
I gave the students another 10-15 minutes to complete their writing task. Many students commented that my “modelling” had helped them and some students had actually started their paragraphs again.