Stage 2 students are expected to use their own personal experiences in creating texts.

Drawing on students’ experience enables teachers to:

  • link the work of their students to personal, social and cultural contexts outside of the classroom,
  • assist with ideas generation,
  • and help make learning meaningful and important to students.

The texts students’ produce are also likely to be more effective with some elements of voice and personal experience evident.

Audience: Can I use my own experiences?


While building the field about a topic for writing, assist students to activate their prior knowledge and to make notes on how the information they are reading and researching relates to their lives. Building knowledge of the field is critical for engaging students in the topic and creating a shared context to prepare for collaborative writing.

Opportunities for shared informal conversation about a topic allow students to explore the language and vocabulary required for creating texts. Reporting back on another student’s ideas to the class in more formal language helps to develop students’ academic writing.

One strategy that can be used for all aspects of writing and composing is to develop anchor charts in conjunction with students. This encourages them to take some responsibility for their learning. Anchor charts provide a visual reference of students’ thinking and are an ongoing support for learning if made available on classroom walls, a class writing journal or scrapbook, or in personal writing folders or journals. Anchor charts could also be posted on a class blog for students to refer to back to later.

Activities to support the strategy

Activity 1: activating prior knowledge

In pairs students use a KWL (what I know/what I want to know/what I learnt) interactive to brainstorm what they already know about a topic and what they want to find out.

What I know? What I want to know? What I learn?
It is easier to learn an instrument when you are young. How long does it take to learn an instrument? (enter details)
Students who learn an instrument are better at maths. How much does it cost to learn? (enter details)
Learning and instrument teaches children to be disciplined. What instrument is the easiest to learn? (enter details)
You can enjoy playing an instrument all your life. (enter question). (enter details)
Some parents force their children to learn an instrument. (enter question). (enter details)
It can be expensive to learn and instrument. (enter question). (enter details)

Students could then categorise the ideas as negative or positive and collect more information to support each side.

Activity 2: text-to-self connections

While conducting research use sticky notes on a text to make notes about text-to-self connections. For example, while reading a persuasive text about the benefits of school uniforms students can make connections to their own family.

Text-to-self In my family I wear my sister’s old uniforms.

This information may then be included in paragraphs as supporting evidence or an example. The main idea of the paragraph may be: ‘Wearing school uniforms saves families money. Students rephrase their text-to-self connections into more formal language ‘For example, in my case, wearing my sister’s hand-me-down uniforms means new uniforms do not need to be purchased every year’.

About ‘dogs make the best pets’text-to-self ‘My dog makes me feel happy when he greets me at the back door when I arrive home’ could become ‘Dogs can provide companionship for people of all ages. I never feel lonely when I arrive home and the rest of the family are out. My dog greets me enthusiastically every time I return to the house’.

Using sticky notes for text-to-self on a computer

On websites students:

  • use "sticky notes" to make annotations;
  • take a screen shot of the page and paste into a document;
  • and save and print the document to refer to when writing.

Students can confer with a partner to decide whether their personal experiences are relevant for the text they are composing.

Activity 3: text and me

Students rule up a simple table and take notes while reading or viewing any text.

Text Me
(write sentence, phrase or even from text). (how this relates to me).

Adding information

Model how to incorporate personal experiences in texts. One way to include extra information into a sentence is by adding a dependent clause after the noun.


"The Cooks River, which is near my house, is one example of a polluted waterway. Every year on Clean Up Australia Day my family volunteers to pick up rubbish beside the river."


Australian curriculum

ACELT1596: Responding to literature: Draw connections between personal experiences and the worlds of texts, and share responses with others.

NSW syllabus

EN2-10C: Outcome 10: thinks imaginatively, creatively and interpretively about information, ideas and texts when responding to and composing texts (EN2-10C) - Respond to and compose texts: create literary texts that explore students' own experiences and imagining.

Return to top of page Back to top