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MEXTESOL 2016 Teaching Writing (workshop)


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Overview of key concepts for teaching writing in both the L2 (English) and L1.
Slides to accompany workshop at the 2016 MEXTESOL National Convention (Monterrey, Nuevo Leon)

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MEXTESOL 2016 Teaching Writing (workshop)

  1. 1. Teaching Writing: Tips and Techniques Workshop, MEXTESOL 2016 Monterrey, Nuevo Leon Laura Sagert Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, A.C 1
  2. 2. Different perspectives2 Image credit: CaseyPenk, Vardion [Public domain], Blank world map south up. Via Wikimedia Commons,
  3. 3. Writing as…3 Image credit: By Alejandro Escamilla (Unsplash) [CC0 or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
  4. 4. Individual activity: Freewrite In your opinion, what are the key characteristics of good writing? Write your ideas down as they come to you. Don’t stop; don’t edit. 4
  5. 5. Pair Work: Discussion Compare the key characteristics of good writing you identified with those identified by the person(s) sitting next to you. 5
  6. 6. If you feel stuck for ideas, use the picture. Tip 1: Use multiple sources to explore and generate ideas. 6 Image credit: Louisa Anne, Marchioness of Waterford (1818-1891) [Public domain], undefined.
  7. 7. Common student responses?7 Image credit: Narek75 (Trabajo propio) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], undefined
  8. 8. Common student responses Spelling Punctuation Grammar Appearance (tidy)  Why? 8
  9. 9. What message are we sending? What do we teach? How do we give feedback on writing? 9
  10. 10. Pair Work: Discussion What do we, as teachers, focus on when teaching writing? Why? What do we emphasize when grading work or giving feedback? To what extent do students make use of our feedback? 10 Dombrowski, Quinn. (2007). Via Flickr: Day 318: Blood, Sweat, and Tears: from both students and teachers 87c6AA-87c9my-nGhucM-nEeRru-sgfmk2-878UZe-rATHLx-878VJB-hFdTQd-hFdSFQ-hFgCo2-hFgC1Z-sgfjqv-hFfseD-7D2xBW-hFdU51-hFgtgV-9DSi2b-hFgGhp- hFeT8B-yGig4-7L63K1-4qxmmE-aieEkY-sKAi4F-sgfguv-8XTZEU-4az6vR-sg7tgm-sg7ssh-rAGgSw-CzgKVv-svpr9L-Cx2pXq-GUTZ7S-sxESN4-HhcGof-GUTQAJ-rAGj1E- rATHB4-sRgvya-sR6dAy-tKLGqJ-tMMaMS
  11. 11. Writing as “right or wrong”? OR 11
  12. 12. Writing as an act of … thinking learning creating communicating 12
  13. 13. The other side of writing… the reader 13 Image credit: Baraa-kell. Reading. Paris, France. Via Flickr: 81KR9D-ae5713-8FsWpL-ATb57-7hVMnm-9aFjZn-a9JSNQ-xGoWE-7hVRmq-6DbHyD-63DndZ-7hW5VN-23fTGw-4v5aS-7ibXNR-8nBEqN-8nyJfF-6byfxg-q6MRCZ- 8nBsTS-bkBhB-4Pjy9v-5fdEy2-8nB5eQ-8jSRBS-7hVPHw-NAzBZ-8nBWJy-GyxyiE-c6Bi1o-J83wgp-FFmpx9-Gyx1By-F5KyvG-kQbuFv-FF6XnD-5rFjuB-63Rzo5-ahC42F Image credit: By Diliff - Own work, CC BY 2.5,
  14. 14. Communication— governed by conventions Clear: topic, purpose, point Coherent: logical flow of information, “makes sense” Complete + concrete: well-focused with necessary, but no extraneous, details Appropriate: genre, register, tone (audience) Credible: good, relevant evidence / arguments; appeal to experts / data (avoid logical fallacies) Consistent: use of style (citation, spelling, capitalization) 14
  15. 15. 15 Image credit: Palma, Esparta (2009) Don’t Worry. Via Flickr: icpA7V-9pnLpZ-8gRiDP-gcj5w8-fkq123-as33Rg-avUueF-7JUD7T-8PPonW-bPnCyn-8bpvTL-bwKsZy-6W9EXM-DoAQL5-pUJNMc-8ihCDp-4W6G8D-8UGx4o-gYEeVj-9wyTfM-73xtdT-76zcix-9GhvEA-51xPDa-mvw7Za-dqz5y8-66cMEJ-fwxKox-7aYC9j-4r1958-4DtL5p-bGeG7i-CtJrZv-sK6cBM- gkppe-eBWbNx-2yH86n W O R R Y S T R E S S
  16. 16. Pair work: Discussion When YOU write, what do YOU worry about? 16
  17. 17. Tip 2: Take the focus off the writer and, in part, away from the text 17 Image credit: Niabot (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
  18. 18. Tip 2a: Teach key questions Simple (all ages): 5 Ws and 1H ???????? 18
  19. 19. Key questions: 5 Ws and 1H Who What When Where Why How 19
  20. 20. Key questions (primary students through professionals) What are you writing? (GENRE) What are you writing about? (TOPIC) Why are you writing about this topic? (PURPOSE) Who will read your writing? When? Where? Why? (TARGET AUDIENCE) Are you making any assumptions about what your audience will know? How could you address knowledge gaps or cultural differences? (CONTEXT, LANGUAGE AWARENESS) 20
  21. 21. Tip 2b: Explore the rhetorical situation Look beyond the writer and the task. Consider the audience and the communicative context. 21
  22. 22. Rhetorical Triangle (Aristotle, Rhetoric, 4th century B.C)  22 audience (logos ― intelligence, logical argument) text (purpose ― persuasion) writer (ethos ― trust) credibilty) context (pathos ― emotion) genre (type of text) + medium The term “rhetorical situation” was first used by Lloyd Bitzer in “The Rhetorical Situation”, Philosophy & Rhetoric1 , no 1 (January, 1968): 3
  23. 23. Tip 3: Help students overcome the idea that they will get things “right” at first try P O W E R 23 Englert, C.S., Raphael, T.E., Anderson, L.M., Anthony, H.M., Fear, K.L., & Gregg, S.L. (1988). “A Case for Writing Intervention: Strategies for Writing Informational Text”. Learning Disabilities Focus, 3(2), 98-113. Writing cycle
  24. 24. Writing process: mnemonic PLANNING ORGANIZATION WRITING EDITING(substantive editing /≈ text- and paragraph-level revision) REVISING(≈ sentence-level revision + proofreading) 24
  25. 25. What have we done so far?25 Where in the cycle would our activities fit?
  26. 26. Exploration of general ideas26 Image credit: Open clip art vectors: electric bulbs via Pixabay
  27. 27. PLANNING Actions Thinking about the topic Generating ideas Sharing information Drawing on past experiences Learning something new (reading, listening, watching videos) Conducting research Techniques Brainstorming Freewriting Notetaking Drawing /collages 27 Note: This stage involves a range of skills (reading, writing, listening, thinking, interpreting, analyzing) and is likely to be both multilingual and multimodal.
  28. 28. What’s next? 28 Image credit: Higbee, Tristan (2012) “ Day of the dead Monsters”, Mexico City. Flickr bubaT1-pEQES8-8uThBN-6d8EMX-8uTjUA-rRZRsi-p5pntB-9wgMFF-9wjPLo-bn57Hy-dfPymv-p24bqC-5jhZgU-bpkirT-8BS5yM-bpken6-bjNZnM-o2Suax-xdN5t-qyJctN-6d8qoi-aiLzyo-3cvziP-6daWAk-aDscSy-9hu8Az-9wgNZk-9wjQEj-9wjN9w-g3NR9-9wjNLf-bF6YPi-9wjMHC-9wjPy5- 9wjQ5W-ayPjfz-9wgNUp-9hua1T-9wgQfx-8uQ3kB-9wjQ2A-9wgNYr
  29. 29. ORGANIZATION actions Putting ideas and information in an order that will make sense to someone else Checking for completeness techniques  Graphic organizers Outlines 29
  30. 30. Tip 4: Teach and use graphic organizers for generating and organizing ideas Relatively open More structured 30 Image source: Project Write MSU Graphic Organizers:
  31. 31. Tip 5: Teach outlining Point form (Exam or in-class work) Formal (Longer assignment)  Edible fish  Origin  Ocean, rivers, lakes  Domestic vs imported Purchasing  Where to buy  Safety tips Cooking  poach  bake  fry 31 Image source: Project Write MSU Graphic Organizers:
  32. 32. Pair work: Ideas in order What would you put in an outline of this session — so far? 32
  33. 33. What’s the next step?33 Hint: So far, we have information and ideas and a basic sense of order.
  34. 34. WRITING Exams This is it. Don’t plan on rewriting; there’s not enough time to do so. Other writing for school and life Plan on writing more than one draft. The first time around, don’t worry too much. Simply try to get you ideas into words, sentences and paragraphs. 34
  35. 35. Individual activity: Drafting Write your own definition of “good writing”. 35
  36. 36. And now?36
  37. 37. Tip 6: Relax Why? Clue: m____________ (7) d____________ (8) 37 Image credit: Pictureman 2014. Seagull Stretch. CC0 Public Domain, Via Pixabay.
  38. 38. All writers (teachers too!) benefit from setting their work aside Try to leave at least 24 hours between drafting and revision. (Later today, review and revise your draft.) If you can’t do so, get up, stretch, go for a walk, have snack, play a game, do something to.…. CREATE MENTAL DISTANCE 38
  39. 39. EDIT Actions Check for : completeness clarity of ideas flow of information Tools Reverse outline: key ideas in each paragraph Reader : a.k.a. a smart, friendly person who knows little about the topic and who will both give comments and ask questions Listen! Peer-editor: classmate 39
  40. 40. Tip 7: Include drafting and revision in your grading Professional writers know they will need to work through multiple drafts of a text to get it “right”, or at least as close to “right” as possible. Most students are not keen on extra work, and revision is extra work. You may need a certain degree of coercive encouragement to help students understand the role —and value—of this stage in the writing process. 40
  41. 41. Tip 8: If students have difficulties organizing ideas, include work on 2 (or more) drafts in the revision stage. 1st step in revision: Work on the completeness of information and ideas and on the overall flow of information in the text. 2nd step in revision: Work on the aspects of language usage that affect the flow of information from one sentence to the next. 41
  42. 42. Tip 9: Teach and use reverse outlines What is a reverse outline?  An outline prepared from a text. 1. Read the complete text through. 2. Work with one paragraph at a time. Write notes on the main idea and supporting information in each section of the text. 3. Check for completeness/gaps + weak arguments (logical fallacies). 4. Solve the problems. Why use one?  Focus on identifying: o key ideas o supporting details o sequence o gaps (missing information and ideas /points the target audience might not understand) Useful for self-editing, peer review, teacher-led feedback and critical reading 42
  43. 43. Reverse outlines are just like outlines, but done “backwards”: text >ideas vs. ideas >text Point form Quick review Formal detailed (re)reading assignment  Edible fish  Origin  Ocean, rivers, lakes  Domestic vs imported Purchasing  Where to buy  Safety tips Cooking  poach  bake  fry 43 Image source: Project Write MSU Graphic Organizers:
  44. 44. Tip 10: Review using the text-level grammar hierarchy  44 text (written) paragraph sentence clause phrase word
  45. 45. Work from the top down. Question the text: purpose? clarity? completeness? effectiveness? flow?  45 text (written) paragraph sentence clause phrase word
  46. 46. Tip 11: Teach chains of meaning (thematic progression) 46 Photo credit: Anita Pratanti, 2010 Flickr. CC-BY 2.0 gBiE9M-phHFYG-5XKvMu-cfsoz-bxHyVq-bp2YvS-9DZNKV-dVdgY-mRv7r-i7nvQ-cMKwkh-ecHpuL-91cB2s-87oSbv-55iJvk-q7xuRm-7WV2Ft-4Zt3ib-9ZWeKJ-97Pyjy-n1eRPi-K7U6N-kAKnRg-afRqiY-ffSwQe-9mtdr7-4wjZDR- 4cupHN-2B2RM-84j92e-f4RXQ-8DHBu1
  47. 47. Flow of information from one sentence to another and one paragraph to the next 47 •Given New •Given New •Given New
  48. 48. Simple exercise on thematic progression Your ideasPeter went to the park last Sunday. He had an ice cream cone and fed the ducks while he was there. There were many people at the park so the birds did not come too close to the edge of the pond. Peter didn’t stay at the park for long because the crowds made him unhappy. How could we improve the flow of this text? 48
  49. 49. Simple exercise on thematic progression ORIGINAL Peter went to the park last Sunday. He had an ice cream cone and fed the ducks while he was there. There were many people at the park so the birds did not come too close to the edge of the pond. Peter didn’t stay at the park for long because the crowds made him unhappy. REVISED Peter went to the park last Sunday. While he was there, he had an ice cream cone and fed the ducks. The birds did not come too close to the edge of the pond, because there were many people at the park. Because the crowds made him unhappy, Peter didn’t stay at the park for long. 49
  50. 50. Tip 11: Teach students how to identify key flow- related language points Modifying order within a sentence MODIFIERS dependent clauses (full and reduced) relative subordinate prepositional phrases of place and time PASSIVE VOICE Linking and creating coherence PRONOUNS + SYNONYMS Note: Repetition is better than confusion. **DEMONSTRATIVE + CLASSIFYING NOUN** (e.g., this issue, this situation, these factors) LINKING WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS (e.g., however, in addition, despite, therefore) 50
  51. 51. Tip 12: Do not rely on linking words Caution: In and of themselves, linking words do not create a logical relationship between ideas. • Peter went to the park to buy an ice cream. However, he decided to feed the ducks. (Did he not buy ice cream?) • Peter went to the park to buy an ice cream. Therefore, he decided to feed the ducks. (Is this really a reason or logical consequence?) • Peter went to the park to buy an ice cream. Likewise, he decided to feed the ducks. (Are these really two actions that occurred “in the same way”?) 51
  52. 52. And the next step is…?52
  53. 53. Going back, perhaps several times P O W text plan organize write edit revise 53
  54. 54. Editing + proofreading What’s on your checklist? 54
  55. 55. Editing + proofreading: common elements Choose when to focus on these points. Mechanics  spelling (and typos) most appropriate variety for target audience  punctuation commas (Oxford or not)!!  capitalization  layout and spacing  citation formatting  (APA, MLA, Chicago, Vancouver, etc.) Language (common errors) transfer errors: missing subjects, modifier between the verb and its objects, non-idiomatic wording subject–verb agreement noun–pronoun agreement word form and choice verb tenses misplaced, dangling, and squinting modifiers homophones, etc. 55
  56. 56. Pair Work: Discussion So what? Look at your initial notes and outlines. and think about the ideas we’ve covered. What, if any, are the implications for your own teaching practice? 56
  57. 57. SUMMING UP57 Image credit: CaseyPenk, Vardion [Public domain], Blank world map south up. Via Wikimedia Commons,
  58. 58. Consider your teaching context: value communication, both local and intercultural Rhetorical situation P O W E R text plan organize writeedit revise 58
  59. 59. Writing is thinking. Writing is communication. Practical tips and techniques  Get students used to analyzing the rhetorical situation when they read and listen to texts. (5ws + 1 H, rhetorical situation)  Work on audience awareness; doing so involves identifying the target audience and identifying gaps between what the writer and reader know. (Sample activities: 1 picture, 2 audiences; give direction to someone who is not familiar with the area)  Teach students how to generate and organize ideas. Include both individual and pair/ group work at these stages. (Brainstorming, shared notes, guided discussion (probing questions), graphic organizers, outlines)  Have students submit lists of sources and then outlines before working on a first draft. Give feedback on completeness and organization. Warn students if they seem to be trying to do too much … or too little.  Teach organizational patterns.  Have students prepare drafts. Give feedback on content and/or organize opportunities for structured peer-review.  Teach “flow”.  Encourage (grade) revision.  Use a rubric for grading; make sure students understand what you will focus on.  Discuss (and practice) the difference between writing for exams and other types of writing. Analyze the rhetorical situation of exams! 59
  60. 60. RECOMMENDED RESOURCES Image credit: CaseyPenk, Vardion [Public domain], Blank world map south up. Via Wikimedia Commons, 60
  61. 61. NCTE Guideline: Professional Knowledge for the Teaching of Writing Verbatim:  Writing grows out of many purposes.  Writing is embedded in complex social relationships and their appropriate languages.  Composing occurs in different modalities and technologies.  Conventions of finished and edited texts are an important dimension of the relationship between writers and readers.  Everyone has the capacity to write; writing can be taught; and teachers can help students become better writers.  Writing is a process.  Writing is a tool for thinking.  Writing has a complex relationship to talk.  Writing and reading are related.  Assessment of writing involves complex, informed, human judgement.  Link: 61
  62. 62. Websites for teachers  NCTE: National Council of Teachers of English:  ReadWriteThink:  NWP: National Writing Project:  Purdue OWL Teacher and Tutor Resources:  CCCC: Conference on College Composition and Communication  CGC: Consortium on Graduate Communication  INWAC: International Network of Writing-across-the Curriculum Programs /WAC Clearinghouse 62
  63. 63. Websites for work on key language for academic writing and on flow You can find a huge range of resources on the pages of university writing centres. There are far too many resources to list here; do a Web search for “university writing centre” and explore the wealth of information freely available to you and your students. Here are a few examples worth having a look at: Useful words or function-oriented phrases  Morely, John (2016) Academic Phrasebank. University of Manchester.  Vocabulary Exercises for the Academic Word List. English Vocabulary Exercises .com Overview of English for Academic Purposes (EAP)  —What is Academic English? A Preparatory Guide for International Students. University of Cambridge.  Gillet, Andy (2015). Using English for Academic Purposes: A Guide for Studies in Higher Education (UEfAP). Flow  Short video from UNC-Chapel Hill  Overview from Gillet, Andy (2015). Using English for Academic Purposes: A Guide for Studies in Higher Education (UEfAP). 63
  64. 64. Books for teachers (and older students)  Bean, J.C. (2011) Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Wiley & Sons.  Caplan, N. (2012) Grammar Choices for Graduate and Professional Writers. , Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.  Elbow, Peter (1998) Writing with Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press  Graff, G. and C. Birkenstein (2014). They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing 3rd ed. New York: W.W. Norton& Company.  Moffett, Helen (Ed.) (2014) English for Academic Purposes. Cape Town: Oxford University Press Southern Africa.  Sowton, C. (2016) 50 Steps to Improving your Grammar. Reading, UK: Garnet Education  Zinsser, W. (1988) Writing to Learn. New York: Harper& Row.  Write Source Handbooks (these are available for levels from primary through college- prep): The site offers both topics and models for different types (and levels ) of K-12 student writing. 64
  65. 65. Websites for students  BBC Bitesize: Student-oriented guides and writing-related activities at different levels. The content area activities are also helpful resources for the research/planning stage of writing.  Newsela: This site is 100% reading-oriented, but it does a very good job of illustrating how the same text can be written at different levels of complexity. Drafting and collaboration  GoogleDocs: Because it can be used on different platforms (Mac, PC, Chromebooks, etc.) this online tool is useful for both writing and peer-editing/collaboration.  Evernote: Save and share notes online.  Mindmup: Free online mind-mapping tool. Self-editing  Grammark. Copy-paste tool for error-identification and self-editing. It will not identify sentence fragments, comma splices, tense shifts, or subject-verb agreement errors.  Grammarly. Free Chrome plugin. Claims to be “the world’s most accurate grammar checker.” 65
  66. 66. Websites for working with words Visual dictionaries  Shahi:  Merriam-Webster Visual Dictionary Online: Mapping of related words  Lexipedia:  Snappy words: Text analysis (simple)  VocabGrabber: Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus:  Lingro Web Viewer:  Lextutor VocabProfile:  Wordcounter: 66
  67. 67. Sites for working with graphic organizers  The Use of Graphic Organizers to Enhance Thinking Skills in the Learning of Economics  resources/economics/use_of_graphic_organizers.pdf  Project Write   Florida Orchestra Association: 46 Graphic Organizers   Laura Candler’s Graphic Organizers for Reading. 2012. Brigantine Media   Your University Learning Skills Services Note-taking worksheet for course readings  67
  68. 68. 68
  69. 69. 69 Thank you! Link to full presentation: uraSagert