Motivating Students to Write for a Real Purpose. It's not easy surviving fourth grade or third or fifth! In this lesson, students brainstorm survival tips for future fourth graders and incorporate those tips into an essay.
Students explore the nature and structure of expository texts that focus on cause and effect and apply what they learned using graphic organizers and writing paragraphs to outline cause-and-effect relationships. A "Cay"ribbean Island Study. As a pre-reading activity for The Cay , groups of students choose and study a Caribbean island, create a final product in the format of their choice, and finally, do an oral presentation to share information learned.
What Did Houdini Hide? Students are encouraged to understand a book that the teacher reads aloud to create a new ending for it using the writing process. Charting Character Evolution in Lord of the Flies.
Savagery, treachery, lost innocence Lord of the Flies is rife with character development. Use this lesson to help students chart the character changes of Ralph and Jack, both in groups and individually.
Developing Citizenship Through Rhetorical Analysis. Students analyze rhetorical strategies in online editorials, building knowledge of strategies and awareness of local and national issues. This lesson teaches students connections between subject, writer, and audience and how rhetorical strategies are used in everyday writing. The Persuasion Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to map out their arguments for a persuasive essay or debate.
Walt Disney was born in Students describe female characters in Disney films, discuss their characteristics, and write a thesis statement about them. This strategy guide explains how to use write-aloud also known as modeled writing to teach effective writing strategies and improve students' independent writing ability. If we add the students' worry that they are making huge, embarrassing errors or that their ideas aren't very good in the first place, then we begin to understand the complexity involved in writing in a second language.
In fact, the way we communicate, or the way students put their ideas on paper, is largely influenced by their culture. In some of my classes, my Asian students were very confused when I told them to revise their writing because this was a "first draft. The idea that they had to write it over again didn't make sense to them. Students from other cultures may have developed a storytelling style that involves laying out a lot of background information and detail and takes quite a while to get to the point.
In most western writing, we expect a topic sentence or a lead paragraph that will tell us what the point is, and then everything written after that leads to a direct conclusion. Many of my students had great difficulty connecting their ideas this way. With that said, teachers have a big task in improving ESL student writing skills, but the payoff for instructional dedication can be great. A researcher on adolescent literacy at the University of Minnesota, David O'Brien, did a study on improving the reading skills of adolescent students.
All of the students were involved in a six week study and during that time they were responsible for creating brochures and other types of communication on computers.
They had criteria to input a certain amount of text and graphics to create a final project. This required lots of thought and revisions to achieve the final result. At the end of the six weeks the students took a reading test and the majority of them had improved their reading skills significantly. This was a very interesting result, considering that the teachers had not focused on teaching reading skills.
The conclusion was that students used meta-cognition to process language and work with it in a more meaningful way, so that consequently their reading skills improved even though they were mostly working on writing. Additional positive academic results have been seen in the "90 90 90 Schools. This is a most remarkable combination in the educational world. The researchers examined these schools and found one common denominator among them — they all focused on developing writing skills.
Each school had an agreed upon writing curriculum and methodology that was used at all grade levels, and student writing was prominently displayed throughout the building and in classrooms. Students used writing in all content areas to demonstrate academic concepts learned. Now that I have hopefully convinced you that all your hard work will pay off, I would like to introduce some effective writing activities.
For the purpose of this article, I will focus on a few writing activities that I think are particularly useful when working with students with a wide-range of English language skills.
With some pre-planning, a teacher can create a writing assignment that will allow every student to be successful. For example, the teacher may give a writing assignment that has A, B and C levels or they can be number or color-coded.
The Language Experience Approach draws on instructional techniques used with younger children who have not yet developed literacy skills.
In this approach, the teacher presents information to the students, or they have an "experience" of some sort — for example, a field trip, or acting out a scene in a book.
Then the students tell the teacher what to write on the board to explain the experience. This may be useful as an activity for a volunteer or teacher's aide to use with a small group of ESL students during literacy time. Here are the steps. After this activity, usually even beginning-level ELL students are able to read the story to others because it was their experience, it is in their own words, and they have worked with the text in a meaningful way.
This activity helps students analyze common writing errors through a personalized activity since they are trying to buy their own sentences. Once a week or once a month, a teacher can hold a "Sentence Auction. The identity of the student who wrote each sentence is not revealed.
The students are told to "bid" on the good sentences. The winner is the student with the highest number of "good" sentences. I have never "corrected" my students' writing mistakes, at least not in the traditional way. I have always told my students, "If I correct your English, I improve my English; if you correct your English, you improve yours. If I pre-set the errors I would look for, for example correct use of past tense, I would only correct past tense errors, even if I saw other glaring errors in the paper.
Sometimes this was hard to do, but I wanted to maintain the students' focus on the writing improvement we were working on. If I set a number of errors I would circle, for example, five, then I carefully chose those five and ignored the rest.
When I returned the papers, the students were responsible for correcting their own mistakes. If they weren't sure how to do it, they could check with a classmate, and if no one knew, then I would assist. Invariably the students would ask, "Are these the only errors in the paper?
They might be disappointed, but they came to understand the value of correcting their own errors when they submitted a piece of writing. One of the challenges for ELL students when they approach writing is their anxiety about writing their ideas correctly and writing a lot of information in English.
This may feel overwhelming when a student is assigned an essay. In order to get students comfortable with the idea of just putting ideas on paper and not worrying about mistakes, we do regular "quick writes. They need to keep their pencils on the paper and even if they can't think of anything to write or they are worried about how to spell things, they are supposed to keep writing.
At the end of five minutes, the students count how many words they were able to write and they keep track in a log. The objective is that they will see progress in the amount of writing they are able to do in five minutes' time and hopefully apply this fluency to their essay writing.
Cinquain poems offer great flexibility in working with ELL students of a variety of language levels. The basic Cinquain formula is as follows, but teachers can modify it as needed according to the student language level.
There really is no wrong way to do a Cinquain, students can put key vocabulary words together any way they like to create the message they desire. Teachers may want to use Cinquains to reinforce new content vocabulary and concepts as well. With these writing activities to try in your classroom, the only thing left is to buy a few boxes of pencils, hand them out to your ELL students and help them discover the possibility of joy in writing.
Teachers who use a variety of activities and strategies to help ELL students become comfortable with expressing their ideas in a new language and finding success with small writing tasks, will give their students' confidence for a lifetime of self-expression. I offer this Cinquain poem to sum it up.
This article from the National Center for Learning Disabilities, featured on LD OnLine, discusses dysgraphia and its warning signs, as well as strategies for addressing it for different age groups.
Reading Rockets webcast featuring Dr. Louisa Moats, and Dr. These three renowned reading and writing experts address why writing is important, what the latest research tells us, and what educators and parents can do to support our children's development as writers. Teaching Plot Structure with Picture Books. Use picture books to teach young writers how to organize plot logically. This article includes examples of basic plot structures, along with picture books that use those structures. An Introduction to Letter Writing.
This article from My Child Magazine, featured on Reading Rockets, offers samples of different styles of letters from thank-you notes to letters to Santa and style guidelines that children can follow. This site lets you create your own handouts of words that students can practice writing.
The paper is lined and the word is outlined in small dot print. Good for ELL students developing initial literacy skills. ReadWriteThink offers a variety of fun, interactive writing activities, including the Comic Creator. Students can fill in comics with their own words and storylines. A poetry site designed to assist instruction of ESL students in poetry and other creative writing forms.
The site has links and detailed information on poetry such as Cinquain, Diamante, Haiku and Limericks. It also has further information on other types of creative writing and tips for instruction. Language Arts Graphic Organizers. These graphic organizers can be used to prepare for a five-paragraph essay, organize sentences in a paragraph, map concepts and events, compare topics with a Venn Diagram, organize notes for a presentation, create a double-entry journal, and much more.
With generous support provided by the National Education Association.
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