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Why do we need a model text?

Teachers often ask this question.

This page revisits what a model text is, how we use it and why we use it.

What is a model text?

A model text is an example of exactly what the students have to write. It's an answer, an exemplar, a mentor text that has the exact language features that we want students to write.

Here's an example from PDHPE in Year 8. It's a description of a skill for positive and respectful relationships. The model text is a paragraph, which has four phases:

  1. Identify the skill

  2. Define

  3. What happens if the skill is not present?

  4. Benefits of the skill.

A model text includes the text AND the annotation that students will do, to show they understand what is in the text and how it works (the language features). In the example above, the language features identified are:

  • the phases of the paragraph

  • underlining of the name of the skill (effective communication)

  • highlighting the word 'means' which indicates a definition is coming.

The model text provides the highest level of student support for scaffolding literacy. It is the "I do" phase of the pedagogy. The "I do" does not mean: "Watch me while I do it". It means: "Here's one I prepared earlier (and let's see how it works)."

How do we use a model text?

A model text is used as part of the teaching and learning cycle for literacy. It is not used on its own. Instead, it is part of a teaching sequence that scaffolds literacy learning for students. The process of modelling the text follows these four steps:

By the way, in Step 3, the genre means the text type, which in the PDHPE example is a description.

What happens next after the model text?

After the model text, students work in groups to write a similar text. For example, students write a paragraph about another skill in positive relationships such as active listening. They follow the same paragraph phases:

  1. Identify the skill

  2. Define

  3. What happens if the skill is not present?

  4. Benefits of the skill.

Then student write a third paragraph independently about a third skill (e.g. open body language).

Why do we need a model text?

1. A model text makes writing easier for students because they don't have to guess what's in the teacher's head. They can see an actual example of a text first and they learn how it works.
2. A model text is part of proven pedagogy that improves literacy achievement. The pedagogy is the Scaffolding Teaching and Learning Cycle (I do, We do, You do).
3. When teachers write a model text, this helps teachers to focus on exactly what they expect from students ... and then they are more likely to get it.

This website contains more detail about:

the Teaching and Learning Cycle

the approach to literacy and language learning

genres in secondary schools.


Rose, D., & Martin, J. R. (2012). Learning to write, reading to learn. Genre, knowledge and pedagogy in the Sydney School. Sheffield & Bristol: Equinox Publishing Ltd.

Rothery, J. (1994). Exploring literacy in school English. Sydney: Metropolitan East Disadvantaged School Program.

To reference this blog, please cite:

Weekes, T. (2023, March 15). Why do we need a model text? [Blog post]. Retrieved from:

If you have more questions, please get in touch:


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