Do your students write information reports that repeat the same phrases again and again?
What a boring set of phrases – essentially a list of facts, each fact turned into a sentence!
Wouldn’t it be nice if students applied the skills and approaches they are practising in narrative writing to informative text types?
That’s just what we are setting out to do, as we develop Informative Writing resources for Seven Steps Online members. Here’s an update on what has been happening.
A focus on skills
Recently, we conducted a focus group with an inspiring group of teachers. With their help we discussed the highlights and pitfalls of teaching informative writing.
Teachers want to teach students how to use all the writing techniques in their repertoire to write an engaging text, regardless of the text genre. ‘Banning the Boring’ is just as important in a science report about butterflies as it is in an imaginative narrative!
Fact versus fiction
Students, when faced with the task of conveying information on a topic, hear us when we tell them to stick to the facts.
Of course research skills are a core part of informative writing. But perhaps the imperative to sort fact from fiction closes down many students’ creative side – so that even though they can write Sizzling Starts and Tighten the Tension in persuasive or narrative writing, their information reports fall back on dull, repetitive sentences.
Testing and telling
Informative Writing has not been tested by NAPLAN, but it is one of the text types in the Australian Curriculum and is a crucial part of primary writing practice.
We have started to gather and create resources for you, showing how the Seven Steps can effectively be applied in informative writing genres such as a science report, news article, factual recount or letter.
Why not start with Sizzling Starts? Our first two resources for Informative Writing are ready for you! Two sets of Top Twenty Topics help students to practise applying Step 2: Sizzling Starts for news reports and Step 3: Tightening Tension in audio factual recounts. Below you will find the Action Activity for Tightening Tension.
Both of these new Informative Writing resources can be found in the Resource Library now.
As a class, listen to ABC Darwin’s radio piece ‘As extreme as it gets – Crocodile egg collecting’ at: www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2012/07/10/ 3542896.htm. (Please note, it would be best to turn the accompanying slideshow off for the first run through at least.)
In groups of four, identify the moments of tension in this account. What might have happened? How did the text build tension and what were the key moments of tension?
Students use the ideas from the group brainstorm to write their own tension scene.
Informative Writing resources:
- PRACTISE IT: Newsworthy Fast Starts – News article openers that sizzle.
- PRACTISE IT: Tension Techniques – Truly tense factual recounts.