Teaching writing can be hard – teaching it remotely can feel impossible. But it doesn’t have to be!
In this new challenging world of online teaching, it’s more important now than ever to keep writing tasks simple, explicit and fun.
And hey, did you know that’s what the Seven Steps specialises in? Simple, explicit writing instruction that quickly improves student writing!
So, we want to help you get started with a fun and engaging writing lesson – perfect for teaching remotely. Let’s turn your students into lean, keen, creative writing machines. They’ll love it, and so will you! Are you ready?
The ‘secret’ to inspiring great writing
Quick wins build students’ confidence in writing; the more confident they feel, the faster their writing will improve.
So how do we begin? By keeping it small.
The Seven Steps breaks – or chunks – writing down into seven individual components that are taught explicitly. These Seven Steps are the core to great writing – Sizzling Starts, Tightening Tension, Show Don’t Tell, see them all here.
So rather than saying to students ‘Write me a story’, you teach them a small aspect of writing and model that particular technique with lots of examples (picture books, videos, speeches, ads, news articles, etc).
Then, and this is essential, students practise and practise (and practise) that individual Step until they’re confident and have mastered it.
Chunk, Chunk, Chunk! Teach writing in parts.”~ Carly, Year 7 teacher
(read Carly’s amazing story of student engagement skyrocketing).
So let’s get started
You’ve probably heard of Step 2: Sizzling Starts, but did you know that they are one of the quickest and easiest ways to make an immediate improvement to student writing? And they make a perfect lesson for remote learning!
A powerful opener or introduction is vital to engage the reader. In books and movies, writers use the opening scene to capture their reader’s attention. So how do we show students how to do that in their own writing?
For this lesson, we’ll focus on one of our favourite types of Sizzling Starts – beginning with action.
The concept is pretty easy to explain to students: don’t start a story at the start of the day. No one wants to hear about you waking up or eating breakfast. Throw your reader right into the action, the moment things get interesting. When the bully pushes over your friend or your teacher is telling you off for losing your homework!
Easy so far, right? We all know that the perfect way to teach a concept is to share lots of examples…and good news, Sizzling Starts are everywhere!
- Movies (check out Toy Story, Lego Movie, any James Bond movie)
- Picture books (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; Diary of a Wombat)
- Ads (Sainsbury’s Christmas Ad 2016, Nolan’s Cheese Ad)
>> Related download: Videos and ads that demonstrate the Seven Steps
Ask students to find their own at home – in their favourite novels, on Netflix, in magazine articles – then share them with the class. You can use a Google Doc as a place for them to record them all.
Next…practise, practise, practise
Once students understand what a Sizzling Start is, you need to get them to practise writing lots of them.
Picture prompts are a fun way to do it. Screen share one of the below images with your students, then give them two to three minutes max to write or type up a Sizzling Start.
But don’t let them write anything beyond the first sentence or two! What we’re trying to do is have them write lots of starts. It’s not about perfect writing yet; we just want students to start to feel confident in writing.
Verbal is vital with writing, so be sure to encourage students to share their starts with the class. It helps inspire and improve student writing to hear what others have written.
[By the way, the same concept applies to all types of text, so push your more able students to apply the same concept to persuasive and informative texts – you’ll see Writing Prompts below for all of them.]
Just the beginning
See how easy it can be to make a fast improvement to student writing? Well, that’s just the beginning of Sizzling Starts…and amazing writing!
Take the next step and unlock everything you need to teach Step 2: Sizzling Starts to engage your students and create classrooms full of life, laughter and learning. It’s free and includes two weeks’ worth of theory, activities and writing topics!
Stay healthy and reach out if you need a hand.
The largest provider of written literacy education in Australia, the Seven Steps helps teachers transform student writing. It’s practical, simple and, best of all, fun! Learn more about the Seven Steps here.]