WRITING TO INFORM

  Hi I am home schooling (only for English) my 12 year old son in Greece and would like some clarification on wtriting to inform. There is much information on the web that states what should be included in writing to inform. For instance: It is factual,unbiased, impersonal, focuses on WHO, WHAT, WHERE AND WHEN. Also may include some diagram, pictures or bullet points (bbc bitesize). Other sources emphasise the 5 w's. So we are missing the WHY from the above source. However bbc goes on the say that when we include the WHY this is classed as explaining, is written in the present tense but focuses on WHY. So do I tell my son to include WHY in the basics of writing to inform or should I leave it as an ingredient used for writing to explain...? Also, are there any flashcards or info sheets that would help my son to follow a set or rules when writing in difference styles. He seems to have issues with prewritng. Thanks for your time. Jo

Answers
I call this five bums on a bench [wwwww]who, what, when, where, why and howwho are you writing to? (a friend, family, manager, employer) this is important as it will help you to decide if you are writing informal or formalwhat are you writing? (a leaflet, a letter a story, an advert etc)when is the writing set? (tense: past, present, future)where will the writing be featured? (similar to who...a bus, a poster etc)WHY...are you writing (to inform, describe, explain, persuade..this is very important as it sets the tone of the text.Informative writing is very matter of fact, has statistics, facts & figures, uses straight forward language and does not give an opinion.Finally, how did it happen?
Laura B.
13 November 2014
Sometimes different writing styles cross over; this is an example of that.  Technically, including 'why' would count as writing to explain, but depending upon the text type, it would be appropriate to explain within an information text.  For example, a newspaper report would include the key facts, but may later go on to explore why the incident happened.As a result, I would teach your son to include 'why' as a secondary element of his writing to inform, once he has covered the key facts.
kittyhooper
16 November 2014
The BBC guides are very helpful but I would add that the text type you are writing (letter/ article / leaflet etc) would help you decide which are the most important for that particular task. There's also 'how' to consider sometimes as well!These formulas are designed to help give the writing structure, especially in stressful and time-limited exams where 'concise and precise' gets marks! However, the best writing will include many other features at word and sentence level, as well as having something interesting to say...  Using these lists as planning tools are a helpful way to start.Prewriting can be quite individual, does he seem drawn to check-lists or mind maps?I am replying to you from Zakynthos! Kalimera!
Anne T.
20 November 2014
Kalimera apo thn KritiI hear Zakynthos is very nice, do you live there or are you on holiday?  Thank you for your advice.We are using the Literacy Objectives Bk 1 and to complete the unit on writing to inform the writing task requires my son to write a leaflet informing children of his own age about a hobby (we choose Scuda Diving.  The planning frame for this consists of :What other people think about the hobby, how and why he is interested in it and the facts about the hobby.  This has confused me and contradicts a bit of what I have explained to him about writing to inform. For instance, Who, when when and where.  I thought that writing to explain used the Why?Should I just ask him for write a leaflet using what we have covered and then use this piece of writing to add Why for the next unit ..?Thanks again and I hope the weather is nice for you there.Jo
crete
20 November 2014
Hello again Jo,As the text type is a leaflet then that calls for an impersonal style, use of facts, bullet points and perhaps images or diagrams, so you can tick the 'writing to inform' boxes for those...As the audience is 'children his own age', his vocabulary doesn't need to be too technical or sophisticated, but clear, as if he is introducing the topic to a wider audience of people he doesn't personally know, so an element of formality. Now a leaflet usually has a purpose beyond just giving information so here we have a bit of a grey area. In reality, you would probably only see such a text if it was advertising diving lessons, so writing to persuade as well as inform etc. At GCSE, tasks are often given using two types so you could see 'inform and explain' 'argue and persuade', this is because there is a lot of cross-over and the aim is to get the student to write well using the tools at their disposal and to show understanding of how writers select the techniques they use. The trend has been to try to simplify teaching by making these rules, it works to an extent and is certainly helpful, but as you have found, it really isn't so hard and fast!I think you can use 'why' in this case, if you are linking it to the information with connectives such as 'so' and 'because' as you are using the explanation to engage the reader (who presumably is new to the hobby) and add to the information. If it stands alone as explaining and using 'I' , then it will become too personal and not appropriate for the purpose, audience or text type.Perhaps the differences will become more apparent when you compare this work to the writing to explain task, where 'why' will be at the beginning of the list of points to include and not towards the end as in this case. That's really just the beginning of an answer. Well done and best of luck with home tutoring! Yes, Zakynthos is lovely and we are spending an increasing amount of time here...
Anne T.
20 November 2014
Sounds like you've had some great advise.One other thing that may help would be collecting leaflets from a local library or museum. If you could find a leaflet offering a similar sevice, to the same target audience, it could facilitate discussion and provide inspiration.Hope you've found this useful: if you feel you need more support why not book a lesson with me, I'd be happy to help.
Clare C.
28 November 2014
Hi ClareThank you for you advice.  I did not think of this. When we are round and about will definatly pick some up.  Best wishesJo
crete
28 November 2014
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