Writing an explanation - Learning intention guide

How to use this resource
This resource is designed so teachers can select the writing criteria they want to use for the focus of the assessment.
After selecting the criteria, and whether to have a student's or a teacher's, single click the   button to construct an assessment guide appropriate to the needs of the individual students, the groups, or the class.
Information for teachers
  • This assessment guide could be used for either self- or peer-assessment  purposes, or a combination of both.
  • The guide from which the teacher selects the writing criteria to be assessed has more examples than the student's one. The fuller one is for teachers to use as a model to scaffold students' learning. The whole guide could be enlarged as a chart for sharing, and/or for working up other examples in other contexts.
  • The student's guide only has examples for each language feature.
  • Students should be familiar with how to self- and/or peer-assess before using this guide, and with the features of an explanation.
  • Ideally, the assessment would be followed up with a teacher conference.
  • The 'next time' section of the assessment guide is for students to set their next goals. This section could be glued into the student's work book as a record.
  • When explaining to students how to complete the assessment task, teachers could include the following points:
  1. Use the assessment guide to help you plan and write your explanation. 
  2. Write your explanation. 
  3. When you have finished, use the guide to assess and reflect on your writing.
Please select the criteria to match your students' learning needs.

Learning intention guide – Writing an explanation (WL3712)

The explanation begins with an introduction to the topic,

e.g.,  The earth has a limited amount of water. The water keeps going around and around in what we call the "Water Cycle".

A description of the parts of the topic follows the introduction,

e.g.,  This cycle is made up of four main parts: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection.
Each part of the topic is written in a new paragraph.
Each part is backed up by supporting information, giving the "how" or "why" details. There is also "when" and "where" information,

e.g.,  The water cycle begins with evaporation. Evaporation is when the sun heats up the water in rivers, lakes or the ocean and turns it into vapour or steam. The vapour rises from the river, lake or ocean and goes into the air.
The parts and paragraphs are in a logical order.
The explanation ends with a summary.
The summary includes the main points and makes an interesting comment,

e.g.,  So while the water in this glass may have fallen from the sky as rain last week, the water itself has been around pretty much as long as the earth has!
A variety of sentence beginnings and lengths have been used to make the explanation more interesting,

e.g.,  Water vapour in the air gets cold and changes back into liquid, forming clouds. This is called condensation.
The explanation has a list of references used.
Technical words related to the topic are used,

e.g.,  evaporation, condensation, precipitation
Cause and effect words are used to show how the parts of the topic relate to each other,

e.g.,  if/then, because, since, so
Time, relationship, or sequence words are used,

e.g.,  firstly, following that, before
Verbs are used,

e.g.,  pour, changes, turns, falls
The explanation is written in the present tense,

e.g.,  Precipitation happens when so much water condenses that air cannot hold it anymore.
The reader is able to clearly understand the explanation.

Source: 'The Water Cycle', http://www.kidzone.ws/water/
(Text altered/abridged)


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