Introduction  I  Principles  I  Learning Cycle  I  Apprenticeship  I  References  I  Comments


The notes from the first section come from the following book:

  • Rose, D. & Martin, J. (2012). Learning to write, reading to learn: genre, knowledge and pedagogy in the Sydney classroom. Sheffield: Equinox Publishing.



Knowing how to support students in written forms and the writing process are important skills regardless of the age group with whom you are working. The act of writing is a means by which we attempt to provide some order over our knowledge and our experience. Writing according in conventional forms also permits us to better communicate with others. Writing is both a cognitive practice (requiring attention, deliberation, and problem-solving skills) and a social practice (requiring knowledge of audience, intention, and purpose). 



This guide takes what is commonly known as a genre approach to literacy development. Genres are generic categories of written forms. The term is commonly used in literary circle to refer to the major genres of poetry, prose and drama. In relation to literacy studies, the genres are broadened substantially, and includes such generic forms as narratives, descriptions, information reports, procedural text, and the like. A genre approach recognises that 

  •   individuals progressively learn different forms of writing (e.g. stories, letters, recipes, etc) over time;
  •   each form of writing reflects particular language convention and purposes;
  •   each form/genre helps us achieve different social and learning practices;
  •   as a result, there is no “single” literacy but a progressive literacy;
  • each “text” involves three plans:
    • field (the content of the message);
    • mode (the form used to convey that message);
    • tenor (the way the message is conveyed to achieve an aim with an audience).
  • therefore, each genre (mode) allows us to communicate some information (field) to a person or persons (tenor)

Due the progressive nature, one can see that “literacy is never complete”. Instead, a student is brought into new form of communication as they encounter new content. On many occasions, a learner is comfortable to explore new content as long as they are writing/communicating in a familiar structure for a familiar purpose to a familiar audience. 

The following images provides a table of common genres that are found in the school context. 


General Teaching & Learning Principles  (back to top)

Before introducing the teaching and learning cycle, it is important to recognise that general elements of a learning activity apply to the genre approach.

A sample learning sequence involves the following:

  •   the teacher prepares the environment and the students for the upcoming writing activity;
  • the teacher focuses the class on the task ahead, which will allude to the form, content, purpose and context of the task. There teacher must be confident that the students have explored the topic adequately so as to start writing;
  • once preparation and focus have been achieved, it is time to engage vividly in the task (of writing, in this instance)
  • it is important to collaboratively evaluate/articulate the task by giving students time to process , receive feedback and reflect upon the activity;
  •   a teacher should provide an opportunity to elaborate on the activity by provoking the students to draw connections with previous experiences and knowledge as well as future writing tasks.

Like learning any new skill, there is the old adage, “practice makes perfect”. In the case of writing, it takes times for a learner to (a) understand the “standard/expectations” and (b) see the patterns/conventions in an certain approach to writing. The diagram on the next page (Figure 1.4) also recognises three items:

  • First, it is important to establish learning routines, so that students have the opportunity to (a) practice skills on multiple occasions, (b) learn to self-regulate and prepare/focus for the expected task,  (c) develop the practice of a learning sequence (rather than seeing it as an isolated activity), and (d) have a known and safe routine through which to record knowledge with a trusted adult/peer. (Refer to Writing as Social & Cognitive Practice for more insights.)
  • Second, through a repeated cycle, the move toward independent learning is facilitated through the stages of (a) apprenticeship, (b) guided participation and (c) participatory appropriation.
  • Third, there also might be multiple learning cycles/stages in a single writing activities. For instance, imagine that a student is writing a letter. You might find that the student stops to receive feedback at regularly intervals to “take stock”. Similarly, at the end of the first draft, it would be important to ask the student to revisit the text.

An engaged reader and writer is one who is motivated, knowledgeable, strategic and socially interactive. The engaged reader and writer is viewed as motivated to read and write for diverse purposes, an active knowledge constructor, an effective user of cognitive strategies and a participant in social interactions.  (Rueda et al., 2001). 

  • Rueda, R., MacGillivray, L., Monzo, L., and Arzubiaga, A. (2001). “Engaged Reading: A multilevel approach to considering sociocultural factors with diverse learners”, CIERA Report #1-012, University of Michigan: Centre for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA).

The Writing Teaching and Learning Cycle  (back to top)

This sequence is elaborated upon in the diagram below, known as the Teaching and Learning Cycle.

The major stages of the diagram are as follows:

  • negotiating/building the field;
  • deconstructing the text type (and the context);
  • jointly constructing (modeling) the text;
  • supporting independent construction, revision and reflection.

It is not by chance that it is a circle. The idea is that the student may need multiple attempts at a genre to gain control and appreciation of the mode of communication.


Step #1: Negotiating/building the field

There are many activities that would be considered building the field. There is a common theme of each activity. Each of the sample activities in the following list seek to build, organise and understand the content that will be used in the writing:

  • a progressive brainstorm;
  • a photo diary or storyboard;
  • a flow chart or other structure visual aid;
  • think-pair-share activities;
  • an interview with an expert in the field;
  • interviewing a fellow student;
  • an excursion (complete with field notes organised in suitable scaffolds);
  • education drama (acting a scene)
  • and more.

It is important that the activity builds a physical “bank” that the student can refer to when writing. 


Step #2: deconstructing the text type

Each of the following seeks to provide explicit instructions and examples of the what the final text should look like:

  • shared reading of a sample text (highlighted and annotated);
  • a “text recipe” with a clear, checklist of expectations;
  • simulating the text through a structured oral discussion;
  • completing a cloze exercise of a sample text;
  • completing a textual rearrangement, which requires the students to assemble a jumbled text into the correct order.
  • complete an evaluation of two sample texts (differentiate between texts);
  • colour-coding each of the elements of the text; or 
  • providing an analogy for the text structure (e.g. a body paragraph is like a hamburger).


Step #3: Joint construction

The field building and the deconstruction are not enough to aid the emerging writer with the task of sequencing and monitoring their writing. In this case, the teacher should create an environment where he or she can jointly write a portion of or a few examples of the text type. In the joint construction, the teacher needs to 

  • model how he or she is approaching the field content;
  • verbalise the choices being made as he or she selects materials and writes the text;
  • invite the learner or learners to evaluate and contribute to the emerging text; and 
  • provide space for the learner or learners to “give it a go”, yet the teacher should still remain present to provide guidance

This process is also reflected in the MODE Continuum, a technique whereby a teacher models the reporting of the learning verbally before reinforcing that report in a jointly written version. The process enables the teacher to model changes between spoken and written language, whilst introducing key terminology in the process.


Step #4: Independent Construction

Once the teacher has set the wheels in motion, the teacher encourages the student to participate independently. This does not mean that the teacher does not provide scaffolding or feedback. Instead, it means that the  scaffolding and the feedback becomes less frequent, more targeted to the content of the text and less focused on the form and process.

  • Initiating the individual (guided) writing;
  • Establishing routine consultation with teacher and peers to shape discourse;
  • Editing, reworking, further feedback and finalisation;
  • Personal reflection on degree of success.

The teacher should encourage critical reflection/evaluation as the final stage of the sequence. This could come in the form of a self-evaluation, a checklist of what to do next time or related activity.

Consistent with the Apprenticeship Model  (back to top)

The steps are consistent with Rogoff’s (1995) learning model.

  • apprenticeship - “provides a model in a plane of community activity, involving active individuals participating with others in culturally organised activity that has as part of its purpose the development of mature participation in the activity by less experienced participants.”
  • guided participation - “refers to the processes and systems of involvement between people as they communicate and coordinate efforts while participating in culturally valued activity. This includes not only the face-to-face interaction but also the side-by-side joint participation that is frequent in everyday life.”
  • participatory appropriation - “with guided participation as the interpersonal process through which people are involved in sociocultural activity, participatory appropriation is the personal process by which, through engagement in an activity, individuals change and handle a situation in ways prepared by their own participation in the previous situation.”

“This is the process of becoming, rather than acquisition.” In other words, participatory appropriation occurs when one comes to value the guided participation and is confident and able to incorporate that practice into his or her personal repertoire. There is an emphasis on the need for mastery of practices and the embodiment/recognition of skills within practices, rather than the piecemeal participation in disjointed activity.


References  (back to top)

    • Rogoff, B. (1995). “Observing sociocultural activity on three planes: Participatory appropriation, guided participation, and apprenticeship. In J.V. Wertsch, P. Del Rio, and A.Alvarez (Eds.), Sociocultural studies of mind (pp.139-164). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    • Rose, D. & Martin, J. (2012). Learning to write, reading to learn: genre, knowledge and pedagogy in the Sydney classroom. Sheffield: Equinox Publishing.
    • Rueda, R., MacGillivray, L., Monzo, L., and Arzubiaga, A. (2001). “Engaged Reading: A multilevel approach to considering sociocultural factors with diverse learners”, CIERA Report #1-012, University of Michigan: Centre for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA).