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Writing collaboratively is a wonderful scaffold and it also gives a far better result. Just look at all the scriptwriters who work together to create a popular TV series like Modern Family.
So, when you get students to tackle a full text for the first time, don’t ask them to do it alone. Get them to work together in groups and encourage them to talk, share, research and push each other to dive deeper.
Choose one of the three categories (taken from our 2019 Persuasive Writing Competition):
Get students to write a speech of 3−5 paragraphs persuading your school leaders to ban school uniforms. Challenge them to use two or more of the following persuasive devices to Tighten Tension (Step 3): comparisons and contrasts, paint a word picture, emotive language, rebuttal.
Get students to write an op-ed (how to write an op-ed) of 3−5 paragraphs about the recent climate change strikes. Challenge them to use quotations from at least two different people to support their point of view (Step 4: Dynamic Dialogue).
Get students to write a review of their favourite book (3−5 paragraphs). Challenge them to focus on the most interesting parts of the story and use the Seven Steps techniques to engage the reader (Step 6: Ban the Boring)
- Ask students to form groups of five and work together to brainstorm arguments and ideas for their persuasive text.
- Have each group to select their strongest arguments, flesh out their ideas for each paragraph and plot them on the Persuasive Writing Graph.
- Finally, it’s time to get writing. Each student in the group is only going to write one paragraph:
– three of them will write a body paragraph
– one will create a Sizzling Start
– one will craft an Ending with Impact.
The end result is a complete persuasive text, which should flow well – because the students have all been involved in the planning!
Don’t stop there; now that students know the process it is time to repeat, repeat, repeat.
As students gain confidence, gradually reduce the number of students in the group. Try groups of three – students then have to write a body paragraph each, plus they have to create a Sizzling Start and Ending with Impact together. Then challenge students to work in groups of two and finally, once they are ready, students go solo.
The beauty of this collaborative approach is that students feel supported and they learn so much from each other about how to research, plan and write a persuasive text. By the time they write a complete text alone, they can do so with confidence and their writing will shine.
If you would like to take your students’ writing to the next level, discover the engaging and simple way to teach writing at a Workshop One: Seven Steps to Transform Writing.
If you want to know what’s possible in a short amount of time, read Bec Drozdoff’s teaching recount or discover the transformation at Agnes Water State School.
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