When students enter year 7, they encounter new demands as they engage with the breadth and depth of the content they need to learn across the curriculum. Students continue to develop their writing knowledge and skills through their instructional writing programme in English, but most of their writing is done to meet the demands of learning across other areas of the curriculum.
As in earlier years, students in years 7 and 8 use their writing to think about, record, and communicate experiences, ideas, and information. Because the writing demands in curriculum activities are often implicit, students need to develop greater independence and flexibility in deciding on processes and in choosing text structures and language that are appropriate to specific tasks.
In years 7 and 8, students create texts choosing content, language, and a clear and logical text structure to meet the requirements of the curriculum task (for example, when writing personal narratives, poems, arguments, feature articles, character profiles, research reports, essays, responses to literature, and short answers). By the end of year 8, students need to be confidently and deliberately choosing the most appropriate processes and strategies for writing in different learning areas.
When students at this level create texts, they:
- understand their purposes for writing and how to achieve those purposes (e.g., by using different ways to examine and present their own thinking and knowledge);
- plan effectively, where appropriate, by using strategies such as mind mapping or skills such as information-literacy skills to find and record the information they need for their writing;
- create content that is concise and relevant to the curriculum task, often including carefully selected detail and/or comment that supports or elaborates on the main points;
- craft and recraft text by revising and editing, checking that the text meets its purpose and is likely to engage the intended audience, and proofreading the text to check the grammar, spelling, and punctuation;
- actively seek and respond to feedback on their writing.
They draw on knowledge and skills that include:
- deliberately choosing a clear and logical text structure to suit their purpose and audience, sometimes innovating in order to achieve this;
- using language that is appropriate to the topic, audience, and purpose (e.g., expressive, academic, or subject-specific vocabulary) and discussing these language choices using appropriate terms, such as register and tone;
- deliberately using written language features (e.g., rhetorical questions and metaphors) and visual language features to engage the audience and/or convey meaning;
- fluently and correctly encoding most unfamiliar words (including words of many syllables) by drawing on their knowledge of how words work (e.g., in terms of diverse phoneme– grapheme relationships, common and reliable spelling rules and conventions, and the meanings and spellings of morphemes) and their knowledge of word derivations;
- organising their writing into paragraphs in which the ideas are clearly related and linking these paragraphs;
- using a variety of sentence structures, beginnings, and lengths for effect;
- using complex sentences that are grammatically correct;
- using basic punctuation correctly and attempting some complex punctuation (e.g., using semicolons, colons, and parentheses).
Writing Standards Illustrations: Illustrations of students' texts provide a snapshot of the skills and strategies the students have used to meet the writing demands of the curriculum can be viewed here. These illustrations are examples that show how the student is meeting the writing standards through a curriculum task.
View the high resolution illustrations that demonstrate the literacy demands of the texts and tasks students will be engaging with at this level.
I. General Structure
Most paragraphs in an essay parallel the general three-part structure of each section of a research paper and, by extension, the overall research paper, with an introduction, a body that includes facts and analysis, and a conclusion. You can see this structure in paragraphs whether they are narrating, describing, comparing, contrasting, or analyzing information. Each part of the paragraph plays an important role in communicating the meaning you intend to covey to the reader.
Introduction: the first section of a paragraph; should include the topic sentence and any other sentences at the beginning of the paragraph that give background information or provide a transition.
Body: follows the introduction; discusses the controlling idea, using facts, arguments, analysis, examples, and other information.
Conclusion: the final section; summarizes the connections between the information discussed in the body of the paragraph and the paragraph’s controlling idea. For long paragraphs, you may also want to include a bridge sentence that introduces the next paragraph or section of the paper. In some instances, the bridge sentence can be written in the form of a question. However, use this rhetorical device sparingly, otherwise, ending a lot of paragraphs with a question to lead into the next paragraph sounds cumbersome.
NOTE: This general structure does not imply that you should not be creative in your writing. Arranging where each element goes in a paragraph can make a paper more engaging for the reader. However, do not be too creative in experimenting with the narrative flow of paragraphs. To do so may distract from the main arguments of your research and weaken the quality of your academic writing.
II. Development and Organization
Before you can begin to determine what the composition of a particular paragraph will be, you must consider what is the most important idea that you are trying to convey to your reader. This is the "controlling idea," or the thesis statement from which you compose the remainder of the paragraph. In other words, your paragraphs should remind your reader that there is a recurrent relationship between your controlling idea and the information in each paragraph. The research problem functions like a seed from which your paper, and your ideas, will grow. The whole process of paragraph development is an organic one—a natural progression from a seed idea to a full-blown research study where there are direct, familial relationships in the paper between all of your controlling ideas and the paragraphs which derive from them.
The decision about what to put into your paragraphs begins with brainstorming about how you want to pursue the research problem. There are many techniques for brainstorming but, whichever one you choose, this stage of paragraph development cannot be skipped because it lays a foundation for developing a set of paragraphs [representing a section of your paper] that describes a specific element of your overall analysis. Each section is described further in this writing guide.
Given these factors, every paragraph in a paper should be:
- Unified—All of the sentences in a single paragraph should be related to a single controlling idea [often expressed in the topic sentence of the paragraph].
- Clearly related to the research problem—The sentences should all refer to the central idea, or the thesis, of the paper.
- Coherent—The sentences should be arranged in a logical manner and should follow a definite plan for development.
- Well-developed—Every idea discussed in the paragraph should be adequately explained and supported through evidence and details that work together to explain the paragraph's controlling idea.
There are many different ways you can organize a paragraph. However, the organization you choose will depend on the controlling idea of the paragraph. Ways to organize a paragraph in academic writing include:
- Narrative: Tell a story. Go chronologically, from start to finish.
- Descriptive: Provide specific details about what something looks or feels like. Organize spatially, in order of appearance, or by topic.
- Process: Explain step by step how something works. Perhaps follow a sequence—first, second, third.
- Classification: Separate into groups or explain the various parts of a topic.
- Illustrative: Give examples and explain how those examples prove your point.
Arnaudet, Martin L. and Mary Ellen Barrett. Paragraph Development: A Guide for Students of English. 2nd edition. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Regents, 1990; On Paragraphs. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Organization: General Guidelines for Paragraphing. The Reading/Writing Center. Hunter College; The Paragraph. The Writing Center. Pasadena City College; Paragraph Structure. Effective Writing Center. University of Maryland; Paragraphs. Institute for Writing Rhetoric. Dartmouth College; Paragraphs. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Paragraphs. University Writing Center. Texas A&M University; Paragraphs and Topic Sentences. Writing Tutorial Services, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Indiana University; Weissberg, Robert C. “Given and New: Paragraph Development Models from Scientific English.” TESOL Quarterly 18 (September 1984): 485-500.