How do Writelike lessons work?
Writelike lessons are quite specialised. This page explains how they are structured, and how they are supposed to work.
Scaffolded rewrites: the core learning mechanic of Writelike
Writelike teaches writing through close modelling of authentic snippets of text.
The most fundamental learning activity in Writelike is the scaffolded rewrite:
- Provide a snippet of authentic text
- Highlight useful patterns
- Provide worked examples of the same patterns applied to different content
- Get students to write their own versions
A Writelike lesson is usually just a series of structured rewrites. Sometimes rewrites build upon each other, sometimes each is independent of the others.
Writelike does not provide automated feedback on student writing. This type of writing is complex and open ended, so feedback needs to be given by the teacher and peers. Ideally this is a combination of classroom discussion and comments and grades on portfolio pieces (see below).
Overviews, projects and snippet-a-day: different types of lesson
In Writelike, at the moment, we have three types of lesson:
- Overviews collect snippets from a variety of texts to introduce students to topics such as characters in narrative, the expressive function of semicolons, or nominalisation in history and social science writing.
- Projects focus on one snippet and model the creation of a longer piece of text, such as writing an exciting getaway scene, describing a decaying gothic interior, or writing a PEEL paragraph about visual composition in a graphic novel.
- Snippet-a-day lessons simply provide snippets of a particular text type or genre, such as fictional narrative or memoir. These lessons are good for regular practice or class warm-up activity.
Each lesson type uses the same core learning mechanic—every page is an activity with snippet, examples and response.
Inspiration images and other stimulus material
Lessons sometimes contain an inspiration image (or some other stimulus material). The goal of the lesson will be to express the content of the image using text patterns in the snippet.
The purpose of the image is to reduce the mental load on the students by giving them a focus and source of information to incorporate into their writing. If we feel that an image will add load to a lesson rather than reduce it, we won't use one.
At the end of every lesson there’s a portfolio piece. This is usually a longer piece of writing, more open ended, but giving the student a chance to pull together everything in the lesson.
Teachers can grade and comment on portfolio pieces. Grading is a simple traffic-light-type system.
If you have turned on peer review for your group, then peers in the same group will also be able to grade and comment on portfolio pieces.
Other activity types
Structured rewrites are the essential activity in Writelike, but there are a few other activity types that you might encounter in lessons.
Retype the text from a snippet from memory within 2 minutes. The student can peek up to 10 times. This activity can be used to help students practice keyboarding skills.
Correct the scrambled words and punctuation in a snippet within 2 minutes. This activity can be used to practice spelling and punctuation.
The sentence order has been scrambled in a long snippet. Sort the sentences into the correct order. This activity is useful for discussing structure and flow.
Take two snippets of text and write the content from one using the style of the other. This activity is a kind of party game, fun if the content and styles are divergent, and the writers are skilled.
How long do lessons take to complete?
Lesson length varies. A short lesson might take 30-60 minutes. A long lesson could take 2-3 hours. A lot depends on how deeply a student engages with the work, how much support you give in class, and the content of the lesson itself.
While we don’t want Writelike lessons to be overly long, we don’t design them to fit into any particular length of time. We explore an authentic snippet in as much depth as feels meaningful. This is partly why we suggest introducing lessons in class and having students finish them for homework.
Are lessons mapped to state or national curricula?
Not yet. We’ll get to this. At the moment, we only have lessons organised by text type, target age group, and genre or topic.
Writelike lessons are rich and teach compound skills, so one lesson will usually cover multiple curriculum standards.
A course is a collection of lessons. When you assign a course, the students get all the lessons in that course. The lessons are usually arranged in a predefined order, but students are free to complete them in any order.
For more info
To get into the details of how to use Writelike:
- Read our step by step guide to teaching with Writelike for the first time.
- Check out the Writelike user manual.