Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Explanation Writing - Analysis of Structure.

Today I was lucky to get the chance to visit Panmure Bridge School, where Mrs Robyn Anderson +Robyn Anderson  was taking her class of Year 7 students through a literacy task.

To get ready for the activity, the students were moving the furniture around. They have obviously done this before and are used to the set up.
They have been given a print out of a piece of writing. They all have their own. 
They are all placed so they can see the screen with the instructions on it.

Explanation Writing
They are going to focus on what they did correctly. They are only looking at the good stuff. Robyn says that it is her job to pick out the bits that need work and to help them with those parts.
Learning intention
To structure and write an explanation that tells your reader what you need them to know.

Notes from observing the lesson

The class say all the words really quickly to get used to the sound of them.
They are then asked which words they already know. What are they. Linking to what they already know. Where will they find the words in writing. Which parts of writing will they find the specific writing elements?
Tell your partner one thing that they don’t know from the list. Does anyone want to share one with the whole class? The teacher goes over these and explains what they mean.

The class then say the words to each other again really fast.
The teacher goes over / reminds the students what the writing task was that they have already done and they are going to analyze today.
She goes over what some of the students covered in their writing - what content they had included.
They then read their own explanation.
All the tasks are done in small chunks at a time so they can follow and learn the sequence and the skills.

One by one - the items are gone through. TIIC - this is written under their work and they are going to check these things off. Robyn explained to the students that this TIIC idea was one that she took from Mr Rob Wiseman  from Point England School in one of his Class OnAir lessons.

If they have got any of these things they are at the “practicing” stage and will improve but the teacher doesn’t need to start form the beginning with that element.
Now they swap with a partner and they check each other’s work and do double ticks on the TIIC list.
Information - the bulk of the information - needs paragraph structures. This was the most tricky part, so they work with a partner to pick out these elements.
They work on the printed out work with highlighter pens for each of the structural elements in the information.
The class work in pairs while the teacher goes round and helps individually where needed. Some need more support with these elements than others.
They are looking at their own work and working out which are the writing areas that they need to work on.
The class look at their own work first, so they can see the value of their own work. Then they look at the exemplars from TKI and they compare their work to the examples. This then helps to group them into what is needed to be focused on.
Good work /  samples are highlighted and read out by the teacher. Cue, embarrassed student!!.... Smiling though.
Work with their partner to talk about what they are finding in their own writing. They then tell the whole class.
This focus lesson is on the structure - the deeper features, and not worrying about the surface features, like spelling.
They have their class DLO on the class site and they navigate to the exemplars in pairs so they can work together.
Robyn explains the TKI exemplars to the students so they know they are the levels for all students in New Zealand that they are comparing their own work to. They are looking at the exemplars from the lowest upwards and seeing if they can work out which one best matches what theirs looks like.
Their teacher wants them to see where they are at for themselves and that they write the same as students throughout the country. She is trying to build self efficacy and self confidence. She is trying to break down the “I can’t do” barriers. Using “you have got” language and not “you haven’t got”.. or “you must have”.

The plan for this class to move forward is to look at the surface features next to clean up the writing. They will again work in teams of two to do this.

How can I apply what I learned today?

  • We already look at each other’s design work in the class Google Plus community, so can I get them used to looking at each other’s written work together in pairs?
  • I can get the exemplars from the NZQA website for them to use. I will have to pick out the sections that we need and seperate them as their exemplars are whole projects not individual elements.
  • I can showcase the framework and structure visually around the room for them to refer to when they need.
  • I can supply them with the support structure that they need to use for their writing.
  • I can print their written work for them so they can highlight relevant sections to focus on.
  • The students can assess themselves against the exemplars to see where they are sitting. They can then plan for improvement themselves too.
Thank you once again to Robyn for letting me come and steal / borrow / use / share ideas with her.
Sharing is good!


  1. Thanks so much for this Karen, I really appreciate the way you captured our lesson. You are always welcome in LS2 and I look forward to hearing how you apply some of this with your older students.

    1. Thanks Robyn. I always come away from visiting your class with a tonne of ideas I want to try!!

  2. Wonderful example of collaboration and a community of learning in action. Your notes are really helpful Karen. I love the out takes you have listed for your own very different context.

    1. Thanks Dorothy.
      It is fascinating to watch for a subject specific teacher, as it is SO USEFUL for ideas to include in my own planning.

  3. Kia ora Karen!
    Thanks for sharing your detailed observation and passing on the knowledge. It's been helpful to get a glimpse of other teaching modes in the 1 to 1 environment too!

    1. Thanks. It must be interesting trying to blend your different ways of teaching in that sort of situation.

  4. Thanks Karen very interesting can see how i will use this in implementing AS 91047/AS91057will have to get Marc's input

    1. Thanks Mergran. I can highly recommend sitting with Marc with examples of work from your area and breaking them down. It has been a really useful series of activities and ones that I can use with other classes.