Children are reluctant planners when it comes writing with many preferring to just get on with it. In so many ways, this is problematic.
Good writing requires structure and organisation but, most importantly, it requires students to actually have something of worth to write about. This is where reading comes in because the necessary knowledge for writing comes from reading or lived experience.
The latter is not something that is available to students who haven’t been alive for very long.
A writing plan will indicate at a glance whether students have enough to say. It is very easy to see if there’s enough there and if there isn’t, then it’s time to do more reading.
As teachers, we need to model the use of plans and show students how easy it is to write once the plan is done.
There are several things that can be modelled as teachers show students how a plan becomes a piece of writing.
- putting bullet points into sentences using appropriate sentence starters and connections
- combining two or more bullet points into longer, more complex sentences
- changing the order of the points so that the writing is coherent
- rehearsing sentences orally prior to writing/typing them (N.B. oral rehearsal of sentences is a major contributor to writing development)
- ticking off bullet points as they are used
- how a bullet point may trigger an example or something to include to elaborate on the point
- making sure that anything extra that is included is relevant and enhances the writing
- using the plan as a memory jogger for the next point to be written. You might say something similar to, ‘What will I write next?’ Look at the plan and then say, ‘That’s right, I’m going to make the point about …’
Remember that whatever we want students to do, it’s critical we model why and how it is done.