The key steps of joint construction are:
• The teacher decides on the genre to be taught and the general topic of the text.
• The teacher sets the scene for the students, explaining the type of text that is to be written, the intended audience and the topic.
• The teacher guides the students through questions, prompts, reviewing what they know about the text type and the topic.
• The teacher and student write the text together, with the students contributing ideas about what should be written and the language that should be used. The teacher and students use the metalanguage (that is a language to talk about language) which has been developed through explicit teaching about the text type and its structural and language features.
• The text is edited and proofread, then published.
Using joint construction with ESL students
Before jointly constructing a text with students:
• Build the students’ knowledge of the field or topic through:
o research tasks or activities which develop vocabulary (e.g. a glossary)
o activities which develop links between concepts and ideas relevant to the topic (e.g. concept map)
o activities which develop organisation of information (e.g. data chart).
• Examine examples of the text type (through deconstruction or modelling) so that the students are familiar with the structures and features of the genre which you expect them to include in the text.
Use the metalanguage (i.e. the language you have been using with the students to talk about language) as you write and edit the text, for example the stages of an information report about animals:
• general classification, description, appearance, habitat etc
• grammatical items such as action verbs, noun groups, adverbials of place, pronouns
• organisational and cohesion features such as paragraph, topic sentence, referring words.
Expect the students to use the language too as they contribute.