How Have You Used Writing Frames With Your Students?

Hi Everyone,

This post is the last recap of the recent Help Adult Literacy Students Increase Their Writing Fluency event! Dr. Mary Ann Corley mentioned using frames as an effective writing technique:

"What is a frame?

  • An outline consisting of words or key phrases plus lots of blanks (similar to a cloze but with lots more blanks for the writer to complete)
  • Provides a structure that helps learners concentrate on what they want to say, rather than getting lost in the form
  • Designed to help students think before they write in ways that will help them compose factual texts"

Frames assist students in both prewriting (processing information and critical thinking for essay planning) and in draft writing (helping students gain confidence in creating a first draft).

A sample pre-writing Timeline/Graphic Organizer for Sequence of Events frame is shown below:

This is an example of a writing frame. It is a table with blank spaces to input time/date and what happened.

  • How have you used writing frames with your students?

Thanks for your input,

Steve Schmidt, Moderator (About Me)

LINCS Reading and Writing Group 



Hi Steve! I like to use the "DO/WHAT" writing frame to help students break down a writing prompt. It works well with simple or complex prompts by helping students know exactly what is being asked and what they must do to achieve success. 

Here is an example of a writing prompt, followed by a description of a "Do/What" chart:

Determine if it is better to have a cat or a dog as a family pet. Explain your reasons using evidence from personal experience. 

Make a T-chart with DO on the left and WHAT on the right as headers. Under the DO column, students identify the action words - what are they being told to do? In this prompt, the first entry would be DETERMINE. Then under the WHAT column, they might write, "Cats or dogs better as family pet?" For the second entry, students would write EXPLAIN as their DO word, and under the right column they might write, "Give reasons from my own experience." 

You can see how modeling this strategy with a simple prompt like this one would allow students to then use the DO/WHAT chart on more complex prompts, to help them break down exactly what is being asked of them. 

Thanks so much for the wonderful Do/What writing frame Anita! It's a great way for students to make sense of a prompt and organize their thoughts before writing.

Here are a few more frames that Mary Ann Corley suggested:

This is a compare and contrast writing frame. It is used to write a paragraph about how things are alike and different. It begins sentences and has plenty of blank lines for students to fill in.

Here is one more:

This is another writing frame that shows a chronological sequence.

  • What other frames have you used with your students?

Steve Schmidt, Moderator

LINCS Reading and Writing Group