They begin to master more complex sentence structures, and apply these to subject specific writing tasks. They learn to use a broader vocabulary and embed technical words and phrases into their writing in response to prompts and questions.

The requirements for length, efficiency and accuracy of written responses increases significantly, but at the same time there is a marked decrease in the time spent on teaching writing, according to the Australian Writing Survey.

Across the country there is wide variance in the time allocated to teaching writing, and the techniques which are used. We know that providing time and learning tasks which ask students to write about topics and information they are learning in class helps them remember and understand it more effectively.

In a busy and crowded week at school, it is not always possible to dedicate additional time to teaching writing. It is possible, though, to embed more writing opportunities and reasons for writing so that students have access to multiple times, situations and tasks throughout the day which require writing.

Let’s take a look at a few reasons for writing you can draw upon during a typical day:

Personal organisation

Students can write a note to help them recall important information, such as a due date, class location, time change, assessment and homework task details.

Encourage students to write in a way which holds meaning for them, using a personal planner, diary, online notes or digital post it notes.

Support student writing of personal organisation information by providing an environment which is conducive to good writing.

Avoid the last few minutes of a class when students are busy packing bags, sliding back chairs, thinking and talking about what is coming up next and preparing to move.

This time is challenging for many students, and is not always a great fit for planned, accurate writing.

Inquiry skills

Students can use their writing skills to record their ideas and findings in relation to an inquiry topic. They can use mind maps, brainstorming charts or quick writes to help them plan the information they need at various stages of the inquiry process.

For example, students might complete a fifteen minute quick writing task to get down their ideas about a rap musician they want to research for a project.


Research becomes more complex as students move through the early high school years. Word count requirements increase and there is a greater expectation that research can be verified and demonstrated as the student’s own work using a bibliography.

Embedding the use of artificial intelligence into a research task in the early stages helps students understand both the benefits and limitations of this research technique, equipping them with important senior school learning skills.

Writing for research can include posing detailed questions, recording answers, summarising texts and collating information to create a final product.


At the end of a learning experience, reflection provides an ideal opportunity for students to consider what and how they learnt.

Reflection encourages creativity and positivity, supporting students to better understand their own learning needs.

Reflection journals are a handy tool, with students having the freedom to reflect on their learning in a way that is most appealing to them.

Some students enjoy combining written text with visual elements, while others prefer a structure such as a SEAL journal.

Using the SEAL method, students reflect on the situation (what happened?), the effect (what impact did the situation have on them as learners?), the action (what did they do in response to this situation?) and the learning (what did they learn and how might it change what they do in the future?)

Vocabulary development

Many subjects have vocabulary which is specific to that area of learning, and can include technical terms and some assumed word knowledge.

Some students may come into a subject with a written vocabulary which is already well developed and relevant to the subject, while others may be less so.

Pre-writing activities such as providing a word list, using display posters of key words or playing word games at the start of a class can help students master critical vocabulary they need to be successful writers in each subject.

Although it may seem counter intuitive in high school, written and displayed word lists along with their definitions and application provide a great scaffold that helps students become more independent and confident writers.

One of the key research findings about writing instruction in Australia is that there is wide variety in what, how and when writing is taught.

Planning a cohesive, consistent approach to writing at the school and team level is a great way to support student writing in the early high school years.