Copyright Agency member shares Seven Steps to Writing Success
January 23, 2018
Changing the way Australian students are taught is no easy task. Creating a literacy program that improves students’ writing scores by up to 35% seems even more challenging. Nevertheless, Australian author, and Copyright Agency member, Jen McVeity has achieved it with her Seven Steps to Writing Success program.
With an emphasis on engaging and inspiring students, Seven Steps to Writing Success goes beyond simply teaching kids to write. It provides stepping blocks that equip students with the ability to communicate and express their opinions in a persuasive and powerful way.
Training over 5,000 teachers a year, Seven Steps is one of the most successful writing programs in Australia. A key reason for its success is that it’s based on the way actual authors write.
The Seven Steps provides insights, strategies and tips that real authors use so teachers can model successful writing strategies to students. Teachers even gain ‘access’ to real, professional authors – in one series of Author Insights videos, professional authors, Hazel Edwards and Susanne Gervay, explain how they plan and craft their writing, along with some of the tricks writers use to create world-class stories. It’s these essential tools that help teachers to connect with and inspire their students to improve their writing skills.
The Seven Steps program also uses the latest and best practices in education – explicit teaching, collaborative classrooms, multimodal literacy and verbal interaction.
But overall, the key goal of the Seven Steps is to inspire children to love writing and create happy, engaged writing classrooms.
“Children are never really taught how to write, they are just expected to do it. They are only taught a simple formula, and who would really develop a love or passion based on that?” Jen McVeity says.
“Every student in Australia should be given the skills to form their own opinion, and be able to communicate it in a persuasive way. This shouldn’t be restricted by what school you’re from, what teacher you have or your literacy capabilities.”
Jen McVeity, founded Seven Steps by combining her experiences as an author and teacher, so an important part of the program is about supporting teachers as they guide students towards becoming adept communicators.
By running teacher PD via public workshops and within schools, the Seven Steps assists teachers to isolate writing skills into individual steps to ensure students don’t get bogged down in their projects. By building on each step, they’re able to develop a range of skills and gain confidence to pull them all together to become creative and engaging writers.
The program aligns with the Australian curriculum, offering interactive, multi-modal activities to ensure every student is able to learn at their own pace. The longer-term benefits of the program are the provision of a consistent system that can be used across multiple year levels to facilitate greater student engagement and shorter learning curves across all forms of writing – narrative, persuasive and informative.
The program has enjoyed success across Australia, with regional schools such as Goondiwindi State School attributing an increase in their average writing scores by 35% after 10 weeks to the program. Kambalda Primary School also linked their NAPLAN success to Seven Steps, after the school jumped two bands in less than a year.
“NAPLAN truly values great writing. Students who are taught the Seven Steps are such confident writers and use authorial techniques, so they have a clear advantage when sitting NAPLAN. Therefore, NAPLAN testing really shines a light on the success of the Seven Steps,” says Jen McVeity.
“The program has pulled the most valued areas in NAPLAN, such as focus on ideas, audience, cohesion, character and setting and persuasive devices used in writing to ensure that being an engaging writer is a top priority.”
Jen McVeity is a much-loved Australian author known for her fast-moving plots and dynamic dialogue in novels such as Dreamcatcher and Shadow Seeker. Here, she shares her tips for writers of all ages:
- Plan for success. The biggest confrontation you will face in writing is not physically writing. Brainstorm lots of ideas, choose the best one and run with it.
- Captivate your audience from the beginning. Start where the action is. Not at the beginning of the day where nothing is happening.
- Start strong, but save your best argument and persuasive techniques for near the end. You have to take the reader on journey.
- Let your characters do the talking. Create dynamic characters through the dialogue, as this is the colour in your writing. Quotations from experts give strength and vibrancy to writing.
- Be better than basic. Challenge yourself to think outside of the box. Don’t always go with your first idea, and avoid clichés.
To find out more about Seven Steps to Writing Success, visit www.sevenstepswriting.com
For teacher resources aligned to the curriculum for Australian books, see the Copyright Agency’s Reading Australia.