A teacher or parent assisting a student at her desk

Support writing using SRSD

teaching practice

For student year

Middle years

Helps students to

  • write persuasive texts
  • organise thoughts
  • work independently
  • Helps teachers to

  • promote student writing
  • facilitate written expression
  • Summary

    Some students, particularly those on the autism spectrum, have difficulties writing and may:

    • write vague or unclear statements
    • create writing that is difficult to follow, i.e. has poor textual coherence
    • create writing with weak structure. 

    Self-regulated strategy development (SRSD) has been shown to help students with their writing by scaffolding conceptual idea generation and sequencing.

    SRSD is an approach that: 

    • supports students to independently plan, organise, sequence ideas, compose, and then revise their work
    • uses memory aids, such as the POW+TREE mnemonic device, to scaffold writing.


    How the practice works

    Use this video to introduce the POW+TREE strategy to your students.

    Duration: 4:33

    Use this video to introduce the POW+TREE strategy to your students.

    Preparing to teach

    Self-regulated strategy development (SRSD) improves:

    • the quality and length of written compositions
    • the number of essay elements used
    • use of planning and self-monitoring when writing.

    The POW+TREE writing strategy has been shown to be effective in improving the persuasive writing outcomes for students on the spectrum.

    What is POW+TREE?

    Pick an idea
    Organise your notes
    Write and say more
    Topic sentence
    Reasons (three or more)
    Explain reasons
    Ending and examine                                                            

    Encourage students to learn what POW+TREE stands for, how to use it, and why it is helpful. Students may vary in their response to the strategy – some may require greater support, others will develop the skills to use the strategy automatically to guide their actions during persuasive writing tasks.

    Identify scaffolds that will benefit students

    Careful analysis of students’ abilities to constructive a persuasive narrative can help you to know the level of support that they may need and the scaffolds that will be of benefit. 

    Some students also find the physical handwriting element tasks to be challenging. For those students, a written piece of text is not a true indication of their ability to compose a persuasive argument. Appropriate adjustments are described in the Use software to support written expression practice.


    The POW+TREE strategy was included as part of the Overcome written difficulties research project app. However, you can support students to apply POW+TREE strategy without the app by using some of the resources below. Choose which resources will work for your class based on the level of support each student requires. 

    In the classroom

    Introduce POW+TREE to your classroom

    • Use the ‘Introducing POW+TREE’ video above to introduce the strategy to your classroom. The introduction will enable you to teach students the types of strategies and scaffolds that you might decide to use in the classroom.
    • Provide all students with the POW+TREE overview sheet and explain each part of the strategy.
    • Initially, you may offer all students the opportunity to use any of the available scaffolds.
    • As students begin to write persuasive texts, you may choose to forgo particular scaffolds.
    • The language you use with your students will influence students’ positive perception of scaffolds and their ability to determine if they need them.

    Watch an example modelled by a peer

    • Have students practise presenting their own POW+TREE models to the rest of the class. Research shows that peer video-modelling is an effective strategy to promote engagement and learning for students on the autism spectrum. 
    • Provide students with examples of completed POW+TREE strategies to support them to complete the writing task. 

    Model the strategy

    • Model how to use the POW+TREE strategy for your students. Some students will benefit from observing you model the strategy several times.
    • You may need to use a range of prompts while students are learning the strategy. 

    Encourage students to memorise the strategy

    • Encourage students to memorise the strategy.
    • Encourage all students to practise recalling and memorising the POW+TREE strategy. This will be particularly important for students who do not use any scaffolds.

    Practice toolkit

    Practice implementation planner template

    We know that in the busyness of teaching it is not always easy to keep track of what is working and what is not. So, we have created this template for you to record and reflect on what you are doing to help you create a more inclusive classroom. The implementation planner contains:

    • Guidance around goal setting
    • Reflection section (What worked, didn’t work and what to change and next steps.)
    • Prompting questions

    Implementation planner template

    Implementation planner with examples

    Set your professional learning goal for:

    Support writing using SRSD
    You can set and save your goal for inclusive practices using inclusionED. Saved goals will appear in your profile. Here you can access, refine and review your goal easily.

    Benefits of goal setting

    Setting, working towards, and reflecting on goals helps you grow professionally and improve your practice. You can access AITSL learning resources for teachers to learn more about:
    How to set goals
    The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership recommends using the SMART matrix to frame your goal setting.

    SMART goals refers to goals that are:
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
    • Relevant
    • Time-phased
    Read more about Improving teaching practices.


    POW+TREE scaffolding activities for teachers

    This resource contains:

    • What is POW+TREE?
    • POW scaffolding for students
    • POW+TREE checklist
    • POW+TREE sentence starters
    • POW+TREE shadow box prompts

    POW+TREE scaffolding guide for students

    Related Practices

    This practice is from the core research project