Sydney’s Waverley College teaches 1,500 boys from Year 5 to Year 12. Searching for a program to target student writing skills, deputy principal Ms Gabrielle Smith turned to Writer’s Toolbox, after experiencing it firsthand at a Writer’s Toolbox conference.
It was when she took part in an exercise to improve her own writing using Writer’s Toolbox techniques that she understood how the program can improve anyone’s writing.
Smith knew the Writer’s Toolbox program would be beneficial across the board—not just in the English department. Soon after, Waverley College started their writing improvement journey with Year 5 students.
Smith said that within six months of using Writer’s Toolbox, Waverley College students transformed their writing outputs.
According to the college, students were engaged, they responded well to the immediate feedback, and teachers could monitor class progress with real-time writing data.
Seeing this success, Waverley rolled out the program across the school.
“The Toolbox approach resonates with me because it engages all our students. You can see that when you walk through the classrooms. It’s alive with activity and hype when they’re working on the program,” Smith said.
Director of curriculum and Year 5 teacher Ms Charlotte Stevens instructs 26 boys each day in her classroom. She uses Writer’s Toolbox in all contexts, at all year levels.
“In the Junior school, Writer’s Toolbox supports the development of sentence structure and grammar—improving the quality of writing,” she said.
“Our Senior school uses Writer’s Toolbox across subjects like business studies and science. The students are developing the skills they need to achieve highly in their HSC.”
Stevens knows a program works well when there’s enthusiasm from staff – and her staff love Writer’s Toolbox. Professional development led by Writer’s Toolbox expert coaches means staff thoroughly understand the tool and all its uses. The teachers then confidently use the tool in their classrooms, with their motivation feeding into and inspiring the students.
Year 5 teacher Mr Elliot McKimm said Writer’s Toolbox has made teaching easier. The student data and information he needs is easily accessible, including student writing level, key skills, and progress.
“The scaffolded activities save me time—I’m not designing lessons from scratch—allowing me to focus on the important task of teaching,” he said.
McKimm recalls when a student used a Hammer Paragraph scaffold to organise his many thoughts into a powerful piece: “You could see the pride on his face.”
Read more stories of success from the award-winning Writer’s Toolbox.