Teaching Writing: It’s as Easy as ABC!

image_pdfSave as PDFimage_printPrint this blog post

By Nancy Roberts, co-author with Mary Shea of Using FIVES for Writing

 A= Announce your topic, state your claim or intent
B= Build and Backup your announcement with evidence and/or example
B= Build and Backup your announcement with evidence and/or example
B= Build and Backup your announcement with evidence and/or example
C= Connect back to your topic and conclude 

Writing is a process that’s essential not only for becoming a successful “student,” but also an effective communicator. There is always the debate that writing well is an old-fashioned goal in the quick and short of today’s world of the web. In actuality, it’s more important than ever to assure learners develop the ability to communicate well.

Students need to be given the tools, or recipes even, to process through writing to respond, declare, argue, persuade and share. Many students will consistently ask, “How do I start?” or “Why do I have to do this?” The answers I most often use are as follows:

The How: Start by announcing to the readers what they’re going to be writing about. Tell them what you are going to tell them about

The Why: Your purpose might be your need to share or help others understand what you are about to write about, or to persuade others… or it could be as simple as getting a passing grade.


The fact is, writing skills are essential to getting good grades — and good results motivate them to have more success. As they gain in their abilities, they also find a power in their writing for numerous reasons other than the grade alone. A poster stating, TASK-PURPOSE-PAYOFF, outlines the latter academic, work-world success and even in social success, as well.

Writing with the ABBBC format not only develops the ability to write well — it also deepens the ability to read better. Students naturally start looking for and discerning the announcement of a topic. They then begin reviewing and engaging in the buildup and backup of the topic and, finally, what pulls it all together to conclude and connect the topic’s purpose. In this case, they now have conquered the task and purpose of reading, and the payoff is their best comprehension.

It starts as easily as ABC!

Providing the way, the FIVES process is the foundation of future success in writing. From sentence to paragraph to essay, it will assist the struggling student to the student who excels. It works as well with ESL and ELL students who are developing a working understanding of the language and how it is applied. Clear communication needs to be addressed even more today, with instant access to the web. The ABBC process is just the right start for K-12 and beyond.

  1. Facts: the names, dates, society, locations, etc. that are given to the reader
  2. Inferences: the suggestions, hints, or ideas that the reader gets from the Facts and the Vocabulary used
  3. Vocabulary: the words used, both academic and descriptive
  4. Experience: the connections made between what’s being shared and students’ selves, news, other texts…
  5. Summary: the application of tying it all together in sequence, in chunks that are meaningful and memorable

It is fun to realize how important this is to our making sense of our world by using the FIVES to “read” another person or situation. It can be done by role-playing a character and having students note each area of the FIVES.

The most challendging part is Inferencing

Many students will give an Inference, but call it a Fact. An example of this is a student upon observing a characterization of a four-year-old having a tantrum in a store to state, “The kid was a brat” as a Fact, when the child being a “brat” is an Inference based on Facts (such as throwing things, screaming, hitting, etc.)

You actually hear the kids when they get this exclaim, “Oh, I get it now!”

Vocabulary also plays a role in our ability to Infer

In the example above, if the four-year-old character used words that also informed us—words or phrases like, “Stupid, I’m going to break your eggs. I’m not moving a muscle,” it would go a long way in helping us make Inferences on this character.

Kindergarteners to graduate students have fun learning how these pieces all fit together to give us our best comprehension of a disciplinary text, novel, new person, situation or even a political debate!

“Using Fives for Writing” is now available for preorder. Order your copy today.