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Using writing frames

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Last updated 26 October 2012 15:30 by NZTecAdmin
Using writing frames (PDF, 29 KB)

The purpose of the activity

This activity aims to support extended writing. Writing frames provide a skeleton or outline of a planned text that includes prompts for learner writers. They provide a structure for extended writing at the draft stage. When learners are familiar with writing frames, they can use them independently to support their extended writing.

The outline summarises the structure of the planned text and states what should be written in each section. The prompts, which may include questions, key points or sentence starters, are designed to help the learners fill in the outline.

Appendix B2 (PDF, 26kB) gives a writing frame for a personal profile. Appendix B3 (PDF, 25kB) gives a writing frame for a set of instructions.

Appendix C1 (PDF, 29kB) gives a model of an outline for a report. Appendix C2 (PDF, 29kB) provides two writing frames for reports on cyclones, with different levels of support. Appendix C4 (PDF, 29kB) provides a writing frame for an explanation.

The teaching points

  • The learners become familiar with the text structure so they can write independently.
  • The learners analyse their writing critically as they create their extended texts, using writing frames.


  • Copies of prepared writing frames, specific to a writing task.
  • Copies of the writing frames on overhead transparencies (OHTs) and an overhead projector (optional).

The guided teaching and learning process

1. Prepare a writing frame for an appropriate text. The prompts may take the form of questions, short descriptions of what should be included in each paragraph or sentence starters. A bank of relevant words may be supplied with the writing frame (see Appendix C2 (PDF, 29kB)).

2. Explain the writing frame to the learners in some detail, modelling it in the context of a collaborative writing task. ‘Think out loud’, explaining what you are doing and encouraging the learners’ contributions, while filling in the writing frame on the board or on OHT.

3. Work through a writing frame with the learners, encouraging them to contribute their ideas for filling in the writing frame.

4. Once the learners understand the structure of the writing frame and the purpose of the prompts, they can use a writing frame template to plan and create their own texts.

Alternative activities

If appropriate, prepare two different writing frames to cater for the needs of learners at different levels. For example, a writing frame could be specifically designed to help learners who have not yet learnt to structure their writing beyond the paragraph level. This frame would have a bank of basic words and many sentence starters to provide plenty of support. Another frame, for learners with some experience and expertise in writing longer texts, would have only a few prompts and more challenging vocabulary.


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