Writing Frame Inspired by “The Gas Men: The Test”

The Gas Men: The Test is a dramatic, dystopian science-fiction story, the same genre as The Hunger Games trilogy and the Divergent series. If the success of these books and the films based on them is any indication of the enthusiasm with which teenagers respond to this type of story, older emergent readers who pick up The Gas Men should have a hard time putting it down.

After reading this digital novel, students may be encouraged to craft their own dystopian story. The writing frame below can serve as a springboard for their storytelling. Like The Gas Men itself, this writing frame is decodable at phonics level 2 of the TAP Library. The “Update” button below the form gathers the values in the blanks and generates the story below the buttons.  The “Show” button opens a new browser window/tab containing only the story.  This is suitable for printing.

Writing frames are vitally important for dyslexic students and those with other specific learning difficulties.  The organisation of writing, and often not the ideas, can be overwhelming.  A writing frame takes away many of the organisational challenges of writing a coherent piece of narrative or non-fiction and allows a student to write with freedom.  Gradually, skilled teachers will lower the level of scaffolding and writing will become more independent.

An electronic writing frame like this has one more very important quality.  If a tablet or computer has the accessibility functions activated, a student may use ‘speech to text’ and have the device ‘scribe’ for them.  This takes away anxiety about spelling and handwriting, and allows a student to write with more independence and to a level more akin to their actual writing ability.

Let us know how you are using this writing frame with a comment below and show us your students’ work because we would love to read some new dystopian mini novels.