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GCSE English Teaching Guide to Descriptive Writing

Beth Kemp | Monday October 14, 2013

Categories: KS4, AQA GCSE, EDEXCEL GCSE, Edexcel GCSE Generic Skills, Edexcel GCSE Skills Resources, EDEXCEL iGCSE, Edexcel iGCSE Generic Skills , Edexcel iGCSE Skills Resources, OCR GCSE, WJEC Eduqas GCSE, Hot Entries, Writing, Descriptive Writing, AQA GCSE Generic Skills, AQA GCSE Skills Resources, OCR GCSE Generic Skills, OCR GCSE Skills Resources, WJEC GCSE Generic Skills, WJEC GCSE Skills Resources, Introduction, Cambridge iGCSE English

Tips for Teaching Descriptive Writing for GCSE/IGCSE

This guide examines the skill of writing descriptively quite broadly, with teaching ideas to explore and refine particular aspects of that skill (i.e. sensory description, effective imagery, avoiding writing a list of incomplete sentences, moving around the scene, writing from a neutral third person position - seen as crucial in some specifications).

The various GCSE and Certificate/IGCSE specifications have slightly different requirements for descriptive writing, so not everything in this guide will necessarily apply to your sepcification, although there will certainly be ideas of use for each specification here.

Approaching the Teaching

For most specifications, this is a Controlled Assessment (or coursework) topic and will need to be tightly focused on this goal. Students may be familiar with CA procedures, but these can easily be addressed fairly early in the topic if this is the first one students are attempting. This topic does make a suitable first CA as it is less technical than some others, and builds clearly on work students will have done previously.

There are several key aspects which will need to be included in a Descriptive Writing scheme, and it is worth thinking about where to place these in terms of timing. For example, many students will respond well to seeing CA exemplars at the start - showing them the goal they are headed for can often be productive and avoid the heartache of marking off-target work. On the other hand, some groups find it difficult to make good use of models until they have studied the topic a bit more and perhaps had a go at it themselves (or, less charitably, fail to take it sufficiently seriously at the start of the unit). Also worth slotting into the scheme somewhere is a ‘practice run’. This need not be thoroughly marked by you - students will learn a lot by self- and peer-assessing, and if your marking is limited to a maximum of three...

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