Teaching students to write with sophistication #ozengchat

Tonight’s topic for our weekly #ozengchat made me realise how many different resources I have created to help students become better writers. I shared quiet a few of them tonight and thought it might be a good idea to stick them all in one place. Please keep in mind that I still find teaching students to write ‘with sophistication’ quite challenging. I don’t want to feed my students words, phrases or ideas that they do not understand. I want my students to understand how writing works. Yes, that can be really boring. But there are ways of making it fun … but to be honest I think that the feeling of successfully creating a quality piece of writing is a pleasure in itself for young people who may never have had success before. I’ve said it time and time again, but I’m a lover of Orwell and as such adhere to his clear prose style. I don’t want kids to vomit up strings of words in a blind attempt to sound clever. Often they just sound straight-up silly.

I hope these resources help you and your students.

This is the booklet I used to give students to help them write literary analysis essays in English.

This is a slideshow I have used to show students how to write an essay. It used the STEEL structure.

This one is a slideshow specifically for the study of CONFLICT but it has more info than the last one.

In the past I have written some blog posts for my students on how to craft an argument. You can read the blog posts by clicking on the links below:

Developing an Argument

Here the prezi that isn’t working in the post (the broken video link is just the Monty Python video you watched in the blog post:


I always find students fail to clearly and convincingly answer essay questions in English. This post tries to help students identify the logic of an essay question.

A lot of the discussion tonight (from me anyway) centred on teaching students the parts of sentences to help them better understand how to structure a clear and convincing argument/discussion/analysis. The posts below are some written for my Year 12 Standard class where I taught them to identify the driving ‘noun’ in a sentence … or turn a verb into a noun (nominalisation) which makes a sentence passive and not active – something my mate Orwell hated, haha. Here are the posts:

Ten Canoes: Conceptual statements and More Conceptual Statements

I recently created this two-slide presentation for my Year 9 students to help them to understand the important parts of speech when writing a STEEL paragraph.

S: (conceptual) statement about text

T: technique used to convey concept

E: example of this technique being used

E: effect of this technique (to help responder think, feel, imagine or experience something)

L: link to the wider world and back to the essay question

Here’s what it looks like:

Oh, and just to contradict my earlier proclamations against mindless feeding of vocabulary and phrases, here is a post of some clever-sounding words & phrases used by HSC students: Build Your Vocabulary and Improve Your Arguments.

My students don’t all write with sophistication, but they do write with clarity. A final tip for all English teachers that works wonders is a WORD WALL – keep a highly visual record of great words: conceptual words, verbs of doing to describe cause/effect as well as adverbs. Colour code them. I’ll write a post up about this another day.

Hope that helps!!


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