Modeled Writing: Definition, Strategy & Examples

Instructor: Jennifer Carnevale

Jennifer has a dual master's in English literature/teaching and is currently a high school English teacher. She teaches college classes on the side.

To learn, we all need a reference point to help us get to our objective. What better way than with a visual? In this lesson, we will learn about the strategy of modeled writing and look at examples of how we can use modeled writing in our own classrooms.

Cooking by the Book

Growing up, one usually witnesses the process of cooking, either by family, relatives or friends. Over and over, we see meals prepared and eventually learn how to make our own. We have seen this process modeled for us time and time again and know we can turn to recipes and video aids while working through the cooking process independently. This process of modeling, while helpful in the kitchen, is also helpful in the classroom.

Read on to learn about modeled writing and how it can be the recipe to success for your students.

What Is Modeled Writing?

Modeling refers to the process through which teachers demonstrate a new skill before having students practice it on their own. The teacher models what he or she expects, which gives students a starting point and provides them with access to the ideas that will help them begin the writing process. When modeling writing, it is important to show students the steps it takes to get to a finished product.

Strategies and Examples

For each type of writing, there are steps we can take to model the process so each student can learn and succeed.

Reading Guide Questions

While these types of questions may seem self-explanatory, different age groups and/or different subjects may require a specific format. Do you want your students to write in complete sentences? And if you are asking them to provide evidence, do you want them to weave the quote into their own words, add page numbers or explain their evidence? All of these questions should be answered and modeled before sending students off to complete their work.

  • Strategy: Take the time to model an answer to a reading guide question on the board before sending students off to read. Read the first part of a text or story, then answer the question together so students have an idea of what is required to answer the question and how you want it formatted for full credit.

Open Responses

For open response questions, taking students through each section of the writing process step-by-step will help them understand how each section functions and connects to the whole text.

To begin, work on thesis statements with your students. Once students understand the prompt and have an idea of how to answer it, they can more easily look for evidence to support their claim.

  • Strategy: Read the prompt as a class, and have students individually work on their own thesis statements. Using a graphic organizer for this part will help students stay on task and learn the correct format. During this time, make sure to walk the room and help students in need. Next, have students share out their thesis statements. You can either do this orally, or have students write their thesis statements on the board or on poster paper. After students are able to see the similarities and differences among their classmates' work, write a group thesis statement as your model. Write or project it on the board. This can be an opening for students that are struggling to write their own.
  • Next comes the first paragraph. Using the graphic organizer, have students work through each step: topic sentence, evidence and reasoning. You can have them work on the entire section independently or go step-by-step. After each section, write your group answer on the board so all can see how to properly write a body paragraph.
  • Lastly, work through transferring the information from your graphic organizer into a formatted paragraph as a class. Print the class graphic organizer and paragraph for students to use for future reference. Now, they have a reference they can take home with them to help them complete the rest of the essay.

Long Compositions

For a long composition with a prompt, it may take too long to follow the same step-by-step process used in the open response. Use essays models instead to work through each aspect of the essay.

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