This Access Center resource is intended to help teachers implement writing instruction that will lead to better writing outcomes for students with and without writing difficulties. We provide research-based recommendations, activities, and materials to effectively teach writing to the wide range of students educators often find in their classrooms. There are three apparent reasons why so many children and youth find writing challenging. First, composing text is a complex and difficult undertaking that requires the deployment and coordination of multiple affective, cognitive, linguistic, and physical operations to accomplish goals associated with genre-specific conventions, audience needs, and an author's communicative purposes.
I was a student teacher in a Massachusetts elementary school, and it took me awhile to figure out the correlation between the pencil and hallway behavior. If I replied, "Yes, you should bring a pencil," the walk to my classroom took 15 minutes and involved a lot of disruptions, student squabbles, drifting students and other various misbehaviors.
As a student teacher, I was very focused on keeping order and creating a challenging learning environment. So, what was the correlation? The students knew that if they had to bring a pencil they would have to do writing in the class, and they dreaded it.
This improved the hallway behavior, but still left me with the question of how to improve ESL student writing when they were frustrated by the practice and went to great lengths to avoid it. I have been teaching ESL for many years and there is no perfect solution to this problem; however, I do believe I have added quite a few writing activities to my bag of tricks and improved my ability to differentiate writing tasks based on student ability.
As I improved my ability to ensure that each student would be successful in the writing activity, their confidence increased, and they were less likely to engage in disruptive behavior. I hope some of the writing activities I share with you will help you to reduce anxiety in your ESL students and increase their language and writing skills.
There is a very important correlation between writing and language development. Why is writing often the last skill to emerge? It would seem writing might be easier because students are sharing their own ideas already in their heads and simply putting them on paper.
However, writing requires a lot more processing of language in order to produce a message. First the student must have an idea, then think of the appropriate way to say it, then start to write it and spell it correctly, and then create another sentence to continue to communicate the idea. 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. 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.
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.UT Tyler School of Education - Graduate Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with Initial Teacher Certification - Grad Teach.
Testing and assessment is ongoing with children in special education programs. Some are formal, normed and standardized.
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