Examiner’s Top Tips for Writing The characteristics of good writing are consistent throughout the various types; whether to persuade, inform, review, describe, argue, explain or narrate, good writing exhibits: wide vocabulary; varied sentence structure; well-organised content; a personal voice; and rhetorical devices such as imagery. Share Assessment Objectives and skills descriptors with students so they know where they are supposed to be headed. It is really important to simplify the AOs for students. Show students work, which is a grade better than their own, and they can imitate the qualities they see there. Go for Paragraphing Sentencing Punctuation – don’t bother with spelling! Explicitly Teach 1. Features of various text types / genre. Make the differences clear. Make the audience and therefore tone clear. Suggestion: Students make mind maps / diagrams of knowledge of each text type writing Use regularly as formative assessment and student success criteria Make into classroom displays 2. How to write a clear sequence Suggestion: Chop up paragraphs from past media exam texts Chop up students own paragraphs Teach the topic sentence through highlighting / text marking Teach the topic sentence by cutting them out of texts Writing ‘group’ paragraphs to join together to make a sequenced essay is better than writing individual essays 3. C/D students by giving them structures Give scaffolds BUT take them away gradually (Students will then understand 2 above) 4. How to make a plan Suggestion: ‘Go For 5’ Spider diagram or mind map ideas Choose the best five ideas Write a pithy sentence about each idea Sequence 1 to 5 Write the five paragraphs 5. C/D students to have choice in exam. Make the differences clear. e.g. Explain and describe, Analyse and review, Argue and persuade etc (Try to equip them with all three of triplets.) 6. The effect of sentences Through subject/verb inversions, wider range of openings, use of non finite clauses (features of better writers) and signpost phrases. Suggestion: Model development Speaking and listening exercises answering not ‘what they have done’ but ‘why they have done it’. Talk about impact. 7. C/D students to use a choice of words This is central. C/D students afraid to use a good word in case they misspell it Give them vocabulary; give them confidence Suggestions: Create word banks Play with vocabulary for starters 8. C/D students to be bold and take control of their (exam) writing Students can put asterisks and ring round paragraphs and move text in the exam. It is perfectly acceptable to cross out. (BUT legible handwriting remains an issue.) Suggestions: Use interactive whiteboard to move text around. Cut up paragraphs and move sentences / signpost phrases / key words around f or effect 9. C/D students that they don’t need to write that much Find out how much a student can comfortably write in the time allowed and teach them to plan for that. Nearer exams practising writing ONE paragraph under speed is better than writing whole essays. 10. C/D students to go back and critically read what they have written Suggestions: Start with small amounts. Speaking and listening exercises on students’ own work Postscript Exam practice should take the form of planning, of choosing appropriate questions and materials, and of writing small sections of answers, rather than attempting whole papers. Time devoted to exam practice should not merely be for writing mock exams, but for planning responses.
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