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Like reading, writing involves creating meaning through text. The reader integrates prior knowledge with sources of information in the text to decode and to gain meaning. The writer starts with meaning and integrates prior knowledge and an understanding of how language works to encode and create a text.
Learners need to develop knowledge and a repertoire of strategies for writing across the three aspects of the framework so that they can:
The first of these points can be described as attending to surface features of written text and the second and third as attending to its deeper features.
The sources of information in text that are used for reading are also used when writing. Like readers, writers use semantic, syntactic, and visual and grapho-phonic sources and integrate these with their own prior knowledge and experience to create meaningful text (see pages 30–31).
Just as young readers need to become efficient in decoding, so young writers need to learn to encode effectively – to match sounds to letters in the actual business of writing words. Students need explicit instruction to ensure that they learn to form as well as recognise letters and words rapidly and accurately. They need to master phonological processing strategies, such as distinguishing the phonemes within words and making accurate links between sounds and letters, and to develop a visual memory for printed words (see pages 32–37).
Students need to build an ever-increasing writing vocabulary (that is, a bank of words that they can write automatically). This frees up the writer’s resources to focus on meaning and on other aspects of writing, such as developing an author’s perspective and planning the impact on the intended audience. It enables writers to experiment with language and to analyse their work and review it critically.
Students also need to become familiar with the rules of syntax that apply to written English.
Many of the reading comprehension strategies can be related to writing. Good writers, like good readers, synthesise ideas and information. They bring together previous learning and experiences, make connections, visualise, and go on to create imaginative pieces or clear descriptive accounts. They also analyse and evaluate ideas and information as they clarify their intentions, choose vocabulary, begin to compose, and revise their work.
The four main stages common to most writing are:
It’s important to recognise that these four stages are not discrete but are closely interrelated. The writer does not necessarily move through them in a simple sequence. The writer’s movement from one step to the next is influenced by what has gone before and what is anticipated. For example:
The aim of writing instruction is to build students’ accuracy, their fluency, and their ability to create meaningful text. The instructional strategies teachers can use to help students achieve this aim are described in chapter 4. Chapter 5 describes the four stages of the writing process in more detail and discusses what it means to engage learners in rich writing experiences. Young writers need many opportunities to practise, to meet new challenges, and simply to enjoy being a writer.