Back to Basics: Writing Frames

Welcome to our Back to Basics series! In this series we explore some of the foundational methods, practices and terminology for teaching reading and writing. This series is for those new to the field of literacy, beginning tutors or those who would just like a refresher. This week we discuss writing frames.

Using writing frames is an evidence-based approach to writing instruction that can help learners get started with non-fiction writing. They are an excellent support for teaching text structures. Writing frames provide sentence starters to help learnerns transcribe their ideas more easily. The use of writing frames is one strategy that helps emerging writers gain familiarity with different kinds of non-fiction text structures.

“Writing frames give learners a structure within which they can concentrate on communicating what they want to say, rather than getting lost in the form.” – Skills for Life Network

Once learners become familiar with the different kinds of text structures, they can more easily adapt and incorporate them into their own writing. Writing frames are used as a scaffold and are removed once learners gain familiarity and confidence.

Writing frames generally consist of key words or phrases used in a particular genre. They will have starting words, connectors and sentence modifiers that makes up a template. This helps learners concentrate on communicating what they want to say. Watch the video below for an excellent explanation of sentence frames (a type of writing frame) from an English as a new language program coordinator:

Sentence Frames from ACEatND on Vimeo. *The recommended resource in this video, The Writing Revolution, is on its way to the Decoda Literacy Library! Stay tuned to find out when it’s available to borrow.

Benefits to using writing frames

  • allow learners to extend their writing
  • direct their writing towards a purpose
  • encourage learner to give a personal interpretation of information
  • can be differentiated according to their writing level

There are many more benefits to writing frames. There is an existing frame, or you can create your own, for almost every topic and text structure. Check out the resources below to learn more and find examples of writing frames to use with your learners.


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