‘I Do, We Do, You Do’ meets ‘Do, Talk, Record’

Engaging all students in writing can be one of the most challenging things to do in the classroom. Every class has one or two (or  more) students who need you to sit right beside them before they’ll write. Or, there are those students who can write a sentence or two, but even with support, struggle to think of additional things to say.  When you don’t have a classroom assistant, providing support to all students can be just about impossible.

One of the ways that you can support students and get the best out of them is by combing the ‘I do, we do, you do’ model with the ‘Do, Talk, Record’ approach.

 I have talked quite a bit in my posts about the explicit teaching model. You can find a PDF of it here.

A simplified version of this is I do, we do, you do, which is very well known.   However it’s not enough to simply model writing, write a joint construction and then get students to write their own piece.  Children need to have the chance to practice using the language they are going to write before they write it. That’s where Do, Talk, Record comes in.

Using the Model


Make sure that students are familiar with the topic you are asking them to write about. This takes more than simply watching a YouTube documentary. You can build the field by:

  • Doing a hands on task
  • Taking your time to introduce new information (a little bit each day for a couple of weeks) rather than in a single lesson
  • Providing new information in more than one way, but always including some kind of visual representation


The talk stage works best when you:

  • Have a clear idea of the language you want your students to use. Choose a sentence structure, particular vocabulary or language feature that you wish to develop.
  • Give students a visual to respond to.
  • Model the language using My Turn, Your Turn.  Have students repeat what you say several times so that they embed the language you wish them to learn.
  • Provide students with the chance to talk with peers about the picture or visual using the target language
  • Circulate among the students, supporting those students who need support
  • Recap by asking a student to present their ideas to the class as you support them by recasting their language in its correct form.


Give students time to record their thoughts. It isn’t necessary to jump straight to writing in a book. Provide a scaffold by giving students mini-whiteboards or scrap paper to record their initial writing efforts. Whiteboards can make writing low-stakes because they can be rubbed out quickly when a mistake is made.  If you don’t have access to enough whiteboards for your students, good quality plastic sleeves with a piece of paper inside on a clipboard can provide an easily wiped writing surface.

There are a couple of options for initial recording.

We do: One whiteboard or piece of paper between three students allows them to continue the conversation as they record their ideas.

You do: A whiteboard each to move towards a little more independence.

Once students have recorded their initial ideas, have them share ideas back to the group as you write on a central large sheet or whiteboard to model the writing aspect of the task.

A ‘we do’ task based on Shaun Tan’s ‘The Lost Thing’

For a ‘You Do’ task, check over student initial writing and then direct them to their desks to write in their books.  The notes on their whiteboards then become the reference to keep them on track for their own writing.

The Do, Talk, Record Model combined with a gradual release of responsibility (I do, we do, you do) approach can provide students with the scaffolding to feel confident to write.  I have found that this lesson structure helps even the most reluctant writer to participate.  It also helps more developed writers more easily expand on their ideas and give more detail. 

I would love to hear your experiences of using a gradual release of responsibility model for writing. Please share with others in the comments box below!

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