Uni: Pupils are provided with a new genre, audience or task for their writing purpose.
Multi: Pupils research similar texts and their conventions; they are exploring vocabulary choices, what works and what doesn’t; pupils are exploring different types of sentence for their effect within this type of work as well as exploring mood, tone, and composition; pupils should also be exploring possible content choices for their work.
Relational: Pupils apply their explorations to the creation of a whole text. Pupils relate their collated ideas within paragraphs to create a coherent whole.
Extended Abstract: Using the structure created in their relational planning, pupils make their text unique.
Year 10 Writing Task
I taught year 10 students to prepare for their writing controlled assessments using SOLO as their planning guide. The unistructural phase consisted of a title in the centre of their pages; I encourage pupils to plan with the title in the centre as it is at the heart of everything that they are about to do. This title is the spark that is necessary in order to begin the search for multistructural knowledge. It is important for pupils to be aware of the purpose of each step of the planning process so that they are able to recreate this process by themselves in controlled assessment conditions.
To reach a multistructural understanding of the assignment, pupils began to research similar writing, exploring examples for composition and effect. Pupils used questions to gain a deeper understanding of bias arguments (their set genre for the “You Don’t Know Me” task). They asked: what are the conventions of this writing type? Are there any language features that are always/ never used? What tone does the writing have? Does anything vary depending on purpose or audience or is the recipe always the same? Pupils explored sentence composition, punctuation usage and anything else that helped them to recognise what is necessary in this form of writing. They recorded their findings on their planning sheet in order to keep track of the progress they were making.
As part of their multistructural research, pupils began to form ideas about what content they might include in their own writing; pupils then made sense of these ideas by creating a logical order to their topics and adding this to their plan.
Finally, once pupils are happy with the overall structure and direction of their work, they can begin to question its originality and how they can make their work one of a kind. Extended metaphor is an excellent way to develop an original viewpoint. Although it does not work in all genres of writing, it is a good place to start getting pupils to see how ordinary work can become original with some simple changes.
Here is an example of a paragraph that one of my pupils came up with after using this method:
Why don’t you know me? You see me as a loud, obnoxious and aggressive teenager; why is this? The media, that’s why. The media is like a Venus fly trap, pretty and innocent, until you get too close. If you are caught within its flower, you could find yourself being crushed with lies, just like the youth of today; can’t you see that this poisonous weed needs to be stopped?
Pupils take their well constructed work and try to make it original. This pupil began with a basic paragraph plan which had been created using the aforementioned method; the pupil then replaced the media with the idea of a poisonous plant to create an article which was very distinct from the others in the class.
This method resulted in a number of A*s from this class and pupils now use the method with very little input from me as they now know the steps which are necessary in order to create a polished and original piece of work.