Tools for Writing

Through our Accelerating Literacy Learning and Oral Language journey we have been lucky to have a range of experts come and model a range of tools to support teachers in their literacy programs and students in becoming confident and motivated writers.

Colleen Wills our ALL Mentor shared a writing prompt for “fattening” up sentences or to help make our writing more interesting for our readers. This prompt was Murray Gadd’s “FDA Fact Description Wondering”.

Firstly, the students were shown an art model example. Questions were used to prompt the students to explain what they could see in the piece of art and how they felt about the piece of art?

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Murray Gadd Writing Prompt

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Next, the students were shown Murray Gadd’s prompts. I explained what each element was and gave examples of the kinds of sentences they could write.

F Fact Students to describe what they see i.e. A girl is holding a bird in her hand.

D Describe Students to describe the image by adding verbs, adverbs and adjectives 

i.e. A smiley girl is holding a baby bird in her soft hand.

W I wonder, I think i.e. I wonder where the bird’s mother is?

i.e. I like the way the illustrator has used contrasting colours to make the birds stand out against its background. I like the detail in the picture of the bird.

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The students use the visual prompts to write a sentence for each of the areas - fact, description, I wonder and I like. They recorded their ideas in their writing book. Here are some examples of the children’s work.

I see a cat brushing his teeth with poison. I see a lazy cat having a chocolate shower. I wonder why he is having a chocolate shower. I like the cat because he is very fury. Jaxon

I see a cat brushing his teeth. I see a surprised cat brushing his teeth and the brown mouse was holding a comb. Then the cat was on the toilet. I wonder why the mouse got flushed down the toilet. I know now because he was cleaning the toilet. Skye

I see a bird flying in the sky. I see a rainbow bird flying in the cloudy sky. I wonder if it’s a Sunday? I like the pink bird on the tree because my favourite colour is pink. Frankie

I see a cat brushing his teeth. I see a black cat brushing his vampire teeth. I wonder what kind of cat he is - Splat the cat? Sam

I see a cat brushing his teeth. I see a fluffy, black cat brushing his teeth with foamy soap. I wonder why Splat is putting his hand up. I like it because Splat is smiling so he must be happy.” Grayson

Andy Butler from Tools for Teachers visited our school to share and model some examples of great ways to promote the use of oral language in the classroom.

The ability to listen and speak is a skill that all of us possess. Oral language is integral to all classroom interactions and to all learning. Oral language helps children make sense of their world and their lives. It is how children talk about, reflect on and demonstrate their knowledge and thinking. 

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Oral language is used to:

  • convey information

  • organise and plan

  • build knowledge

  • develop understandings

  • express ideas

  • construct and define membership of social groups

  • building relationships

  • manage social interactions

  • express our identity

Some of the Oral Language Tools:

Clines can be used to teach the shades of meaning of a group of words that are related.

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Word wheels give students multiple opportunities for authentic use of new vocabulary.

Speaking frames are used to model and scaffold the criteria or expectations for oral responses. They also support students to respond orally with grammatically correct, precise and complete chunks of language.

i.e. I saw…. I noticed …. When I was observing the … I think this occurred because …..

Disappearing definitions give students multiple opportunities to orally practise new language structures or vocabulary.  It supports development of sequencing and memory skills.

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Same and different activities provide students with the opportunity to practise target language. It supports the development of describing, explaining and comparing skills.

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Keywords: Murray Gadd, fact, description, wonder, disappearing definition, clines, speaking frames, word walls

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