6 — Information report planning and writing
It is important that the students have completed a range of activities that have enabled them to effectively analyse an information report and to identify key language features. This sequence involves the joint construction of a set of guidelines for writing their own report and the use of modelled writing to enable them to complete Assessment task 1: writing an information report about the Sun.
Activity 1: Guidelines for writing an information report
The students revisit the class chart they constructed in Sequence 5 that lists the elements of a successful information report. Organise the class into small groups and have them devise a set of guidelines for what they need to include in their information report. They should include information about key elements, including the organisational structure and relevant language features. Allow time for each group to share their ideas with the whole class. This may be done in small groups or as a whole class discussion. Record the agreed guidelines on a class chart for the students to refer to when completing their own information report.
Another possible way to come to agreement on which guidelines are best is to conduct a group voting activity. Have each small group prepare a poster of their guidelines. Display the posters around the classroom and give each student six sticky dots and ask them to move around the room reading each poster. They can award three dots for the poster they find the most useful or informative, two dots for their second choice and one dot for their third choice. The poster with the most dots will be the one that provides the class guidelines. This strategy is very effective if the students are clear on what they should be looking for when selecting a set of guidelines. For example, guidelines must include information on the language features, explanations of each key element, and information on the structure or sequence of the information report. ACELY1676
Activity 2: Modelled writing and independent writing
Using the same texts and websites as in Sequence 4, Activity 2 (any factual texts available from the school library or other sources on the topic of day and night, the solar system and the sun, and online resources such as NASA’s StarChild learning centre, the Melbourne Planetarium and the Nine Planets website), have each student find five facts about the planet Earth. Focus the research by providing topic headings or questions such as:
- How large is planet Earth?
- How fast is it travelling in space?
- How far away from the Sun is Earth?
- What is Earth’s position in the solar system?
- Does it have any moons?
- How long does it take to rotate?
- Other facts that relate to Earth as a body in space.
Model how to locate information and record their research. Allow sufficient time for the students to undertake their research, providing support as needed. Have the students share their facts and create a fact chart about Earth.
Using the student research, conduct modelled writing sessions that illustrate how to effectively write each element of an information report. These sessions should involve you thinking aloud and providing explanations for the choices made. Select a focus for each modelling session and model a specific aspect of the information report, such as organising the text into paragraphs with each paragraph describing one aspect of Earth and using appropriate technical or scientific language.
The following websites may be useful resources when teaching students how to construct paragraphs:
- Paragraph Hamburger from the Reading Rockets website
- Writing Informational Paragraphs on Mr Salsich’s section of the Edublog website.
It is recommended that modelling sessions are brief and focused, and that they be teacher centred with students acting as observers, contributors of information or supporters of the writing process. It will take several sessions to complete the modelled writing of an entire information report. ACELA1479
Assessment task 1
For Assessment task 1, the students are to research and write an information report on the Sun. The report should demonstrate an understanding of the topic but it will be primarily an assessment of the students’ understanding of how to structure and write an effective information report. ACELY1682
Provide the students with the report topic: The Sun, and the Assessment task 1 rubric and then allow research and writing time. Support the students to read and collect information, providing guidance for the selection of resources and supporting them to read, view and take notes. Schedule individual conferences with students to ensure they are gathering and organising their information appropriately. This assessment piece should be carried out over several learning sessions.