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New Challenges

English Time Teamwork will focus on improving writing skills for next school year. Research and innovation on this topic will be our main priority. The result of our work will be posted on this website  and it will be available for all learning community. 

We hope to face different challenges successfully every year.


We have explored writing literacy from different perspectives to grasp the essence of the latest and most successful writing approaches.


In the late 1970, Donald Graves and Janet Emig introduced the idea of Writing Stages which are commonly used today when teaching writing skills.

It includes the following stages:

  1. Pre-writing.
  2. Writing.
  3. Editing.
  4. Revision

After examining different writing process perspectives we realized most of them include the same stages with different names. Here you have a 5 stage-writing process approach, the one we will base our writing tasks on.

  1. Prewriting: brainstorm and organize ideas.

  2. Drafting: use the ideas to write a rough draft.

  3. Revising: make changes to improve the writing.

  4. Editing: proofread and correct mistakes.

  5. Publishing: write and present the final copy.


Nowadays, there is another tendency towards Collaborative Writing because it produces the best results from each member of the group. However, this approach has been strongly criticized because of its drawbacks, such as the difficulty for all the members to meet at the same time, and the fact that the text loses cohesion because each group member has a different writing style.


Recently, in the 21st C the Writing for Understanding approach has become very popular. It adapts the principles of “backward design” to teach students to write effectively.

Writing for Understanding grew out of the recognition that most students require explicit instruction in both the knowledge and structure they need to construct meaning in writing. Oral processing and extensive use of models and modelling are core teaching methodologies in this approach.

It rests on three pillars:

  1. Backward Design.
  2. Understanding.
  3. Direct Instruction.

Students are given focused, intentional instruction and practice in:

  1. Developing a knowledge and understanding which can be articulated in spoken and written language.
  2. Identifying an appropriate focus for thinking about and synthesizing that knowledge and understanding.
  3. Choosing a structure through which they can clearly develop and present that knowledge and understanding.
  4. Trying to avoid conventions.


There is a group of teachers in Vermont  (Jane Miller, Karen Kurzman, Eloise Ginty, Joey Hawkins and Diana Leddy) whose mission is to help students write thoughtfully and effectively.  

Together they have published the book “Writing for Understanding: Using Backward Design to Help All Students Write Effectively”.

And what is Writing for Understanding about?

It is an approach based on the premise: “students must know about what they write”.

It is an approach to writing instruction that recognizes that at the heart of effective writing is the building of meaning, expressed in a way so that others can follow the writer’s line of thought.

The guiding principle is “Let’s make sure you can write this”.

Before sitting down to write, the student needs to both understand the ideas he/she’s working with and know how to structure them properly in written language.

The pattern they present for writing is:


PARAGRAPH 1 + evidence and reasons.

PARAGRAPH 2 + evidence and more reasons.

CONCLUSION: restating the thesis. Reflecting about it.

 6 STEPS FOR TEXT-BASED WRITING from the Vermont Writing Collaborative.

  1. The Focusing question: “Think of a question you can pose that will get kids at the big idea you want them to come away with”.
  2. Close Reading: Leddy recommends having students read many sources of information. The first read is for enjoyment and general comprehension. The second read should be on what makes the text complex. The third read should be used to search for evidence to provide in the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs.
  3. Note taking: Consider what information your students need to gather and how they should organize it.
  4. Focus statement: Or thesis statement. Should be able to catch the reader’s attention.
  5. Oral processing: Get the students to say aloud what they would write so that they get more familiar with the structures they are going to use.
  6. Write: Use a draft and then, revise and correct the final version.


Reggio Emilia approach is usually applied to early learning but its mindset has also sense in the secondary schools context.

It basically consists of a set of philosophies to keep writing meaningful, create a literacy-rich environment and adapt to each student's learning style, interests and preferred models of learning and expression.

1. MEANINGFUL: if students view writing as a useful tool rather than just an academic exercise that they are forced to do, they are much more motivated to learn. So, mailing with foreign teenagers or interview tourists could be good meaningful activities among others.

2. LITERACY-RICH ENVIRONMENT: Students' play is influenced by the environment around them, so it's important to provide plenty of opportunities to engaged in writing activities. It would be useful to give them literacy-rich dramatic play opportunities and props, such as creating grocery shopping lists, writing and mailing letters, taking orders as a waiter or fill in an application form.

3. INTERESTS: teachers should use students interests to guide their learning.

We should keep also in mind the Common European Framework in writing issues (see the chart below) and the curriculum framework to keep the track of what we are teaching in the 2nd of CSE, where the English Time project is anchored.




Writing prompts