When we were studying leads I pulled out many different styles of text that demonstrate what a good beginning looks like and what makes it good. Showing them numerous styles allowed the kids to find their own style and feel successful. When we studied expository text, and the prompt asked, “Should there be zoos?” I read the multi-copy text regarding the same question that posed both sides, written by 4 th grade students. The students were completely engaged and had so many ideas to write about, their papers turned out to be one of the best they’ve written all year. When we studied commas I read the book, “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves” to demonstrate the importance of commas used in a list. Kids then could refer to it as they tackled the skill in their writing.
I want to focus on the phrase clear expectations from the quote above. For most kids and especially ELLs the lesson from the teacher needs to be one, clear focus. Effective teachers model writing correct grammar, one skill at a time. That way the students won’t get confused by mixing two concepts instead of mastering one and moving on. At the beginning of my students’ draft book they have a page titled I Am Learning To…/I Can… Students learning is individualized. Where I am expected to teach apostrophes to the whole class based on the curriculum, a student may still be struggling with proper nouns, commas, periods, etc. This page allows them to focus on one specific skill at a time until they have proven in their writing they know how to do it. The skill is specific to their individual needs. When that happens, I draw an arrow over to the I Can part and we choose another skill based on what they are approximating in their writing. This page is especially effective for my ELLs because they can focus on one, clear skill that is specific to their needs and not feel overwhelmed by what everyone else is doing.
In 4 th grade we do a social studies unit on notable people in Colorado. For their project they do a power point presentation on someone famous and create slides about that person’s childhood, education, family, career, etc. The use of graphics, clip art, and audio makes the writing much more enjoyable. Presenting it to the class and their families makes the writing authentic and purposeful. This type of computer use can help students develop their writing skills; however, it is recommended that composition for beginning and struggling learners should be a guided activity so students don’t become frustrated. Pairing ELLs with the most beneficial partner is essential. If possible have ELL students use e-mail to communicate with students from a different school. This elicits self motivated learning and the authentic purpose will aid in the students’ language skills. For more details read the article found at the above web site.
I was encouraged when I read this article because with the rubrics I use to assess my students, there isn’t that holistic approach of a single overall score. I don’t assign too much weight on grammatical errors, especially for ELLs, but rather I focus their grade on what the unit of study was all about. I assign a score to each trait, for example: conventions, beginning, ending, middle, and the current unit of study such as quotation marks. The article suggested making the prompt clear and allowing it to be about their culture. I agree. We are assessing their writing skills, not their knowledge on our culture. Some prompt questions I wrote are: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “If you had $1000, what would you do with it?” “You’ve been given the chance to change our classroom, what would you do and why?” “Tell a story about the events taking place in the picture.” When giving feedback from their written assessments I need to choose a strength and then one specific suggestion. This praise and suggestion can come from the scores received on the rubric. That way the students know why they got that score and one way to improve upon it.
Transcript of "What Classroom Practices Best Promote El Ls Writing Develoment"
Nancy Curran 4 th grade teacher Russell Elementary
Description of ELL Population <ul><li>Grade Level: 4 </li></ul><ul><li>Number of Students: 1 ELL in homeroom writing class </li></ul><ul><li>Language Spoken: Spanish </li></ul>
Strategy 1: Writing and Reading are Connected <ul><li>The use of mentored text </li></ul><ul><li>“ When ELLs master basic writing skills, they can begin to “try on” or emulate the styles they have read.” </li></ul><ul><li>From the article “Strategies” from the article Teaching Diverse Learners: Writing </li></ul>
Strategy 2: Teaching Grammar in the Context of Writing <ul><li>I Am Learning To…/I Can… </li></ul><ul><li>“ ELL’s grammar improves over time when they are provided with good language models, guided practice, clear explanations, and tactful but explicit feedback on grammatical correctness.” </li></ul><ul><li>From the article “Strategies” from the article Teaching Diverse learners: Writing </li></ul>
Strategy 3: Using Technology to Help ESL Students Develop Language Skills <ul><li>http://iteslj.org/Articles/Ybarra-Technology.html </li></ul><ul><li>Power Point Presentations </li></ul><ul><li>E-mail as a supplement to the </li></ul><ul><li>classroom curriculum </li></ul>
Strategy 4: Assessment <ul><li>Rubrics – How will rubrics and specific feedback guide teacher’s assessment so that not too much weight is assigned to grammatical errors for ELLs? </li></ul><ul><li>“ The holistic approach to evaluating student writing samples yields a single overall score for the written work. This approach is problematic for ELLs because raters can assign too much weight to grammatical forms and conventions that take years for ELLs to master.” </li></ul><ul><li>Prompts – What prompt questions will be challenging, yet purposeful to ELLs but will also allow them to write about their culture? </li></ul><ul><li>“ Prompts should be based on the cultural knowledge the students possess as well as the information they have learned as a part of their academic studies.” </li></ul><ul><li>Feedback </li></ul><ul><li>“ ELLs benefit most from concrete feedback…two types…were especially useful: praise and [specific] suggestions for improvement.” </li></ul><ul><li>Quotes from the article “Teaching Diverse Learners: Ongoing Assessment of Language, Literacy, and Content Learning” </li></ul>
Standards for Strategy 1: Mentored Text <ul><li>NCTE/IRA Standards: </li></ul><ul><li>1 – Students read a variety of print for a variety of reasons namely to aquire new information to use to better their writing skills </li></ul><ul><li>5 – Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write, such as conventions and details through the use of mentored text </li></ul><ul><li>7 – Students conduct research and communicate their discoveries as they did with the use of the mentored text “Should We Have Zoos?” </li></ul><ul><li>12 – Students use written language for persuasion when persuading their audience whether or not we should have zoos. </li></ul>
Standards for Strategy 2: Grammar in the Context of Writing <ul><li>NCTE/IRA Standards: </li></ul><ul><li>4 – Students adjust their use of written language (conventions) to communicate effectively when teachers teach grammar in the context of writing </li></ul><ul><li>5 – Students use different writing process elements such as revising from their I Am Learning To/ I Can page when focusing on one grammar skill in their writing </li></ul><ul><li>6 – Students apply knowledge of language conventions (spelling and punctuation) when teachers teach grammar in the context of writing </li></ul>
Standards for Strategy 3: Technology <ul><li>NETS Standards: </li></ul><ul><li>1a, 1b: Creativity – Students creatively design a power point presentation generating new ideas and original works </li></ul><ul><li>2a, 2d: Communication – Students communicate with others through e-mail and work in teams to produce a power point presentation </li></ul><ul><li>3b, 3d: Research – Students find resources via internet to create a power point presentation and report their results in front of the class </li></ul><ul><li>NCTE/IRA Standards: </li></ul><ul><li>8 – Students use technological resources such as the internet to gather information and create a power point presentation </li></ul>
Standards for Strategy 4: Assessment <ul><li>NCTE/IRA Standards: </li></ul><ul><li>5 – Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements such as planning, drafting, and revising, when taking a test </li></ul><ul><li>6 – Students apply knowledge of language structure and language conventions as they focus on the rubric </li></ul>
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