Ten Ways to Make Your Students Hate Writing


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The aim of the workshop is to share the experience of teaching writing skills. It is focused on Russian learners’ difficulties and contains materials based on classroom observation and training courses run by the author.
The participants of the workshop are invited to discuss such issues as writing as an end vs. writing as a process, assessment of written papers, and strategies and techniques of teaching writing. They will do and analyze some activities and tasks that foster better writing. Activities on paragraph level are a special emphasis at the workshop.

Published in: Education
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  • Thank you for asking, Bea. It was a real student's piece of writing. I used it to demonstate that teachers tend to pay more attention to accuracy and neglect the structure. Even accurate, that piece didn't have much sense: several ideas in one paragraph, none is developed. I caught the audience. They started correcting grammar and spelling.
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  • I find it a very interesting and comprehensive presentation. I'm interested in writing skills, and many of my concerns are reflected in your presentation. I find it interesting how you connect Marx and production vs consumption to the teaching of writing.
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Ten Ways to Make Your Students Hate Writing

  1. 1. Ten Ways to Make Students Hate Writing Svetlana Suchkova Kirov, 10-11 February, 2010
  2. 2. Why Writing ? <ul><li>Invention of writing 5000 years ago created civilization. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most complex language skill </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Still neglected in many institutions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Teachers’ how, what, when </li></ul></ul><ul><li>67% of students NEED it for their future career </li></ul><ul><li>73% HATE writing tasks </li></ul><ul><li>WHY? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Workshop Focus & Objectives <ul><li>Objective: to give a brief overview of teaching writing strategies through discussion, experience sharing, and practice </li></ul><ul><li>Writing as an end and as a process </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment of written papers </li></ul><ul><li>Paragraph as a basic unit of writing </li></ul><ul><li>Activities and tasks to foster better writing </li></ul><ul><li>Based on classroom observation and experience </li></ul><ul><li>Focused on Russian learners’ difficulties </li></ul>
  4. 4. Questions to Reflect On <ul><li>What types of writing am I supposed to teach? Why? </li></ul><ul><li>How often do I give writing tasks in class? </li></ul><ul><li>Do I always pre-teach writing tasks? </li></ul><ul><li>How much attention do I pay to teaching textual organization, format features, and register? </li></ul><ul><li>What types of exercises do I use to help students write better? </li></ul><ul><li>How do I correct papers? </li></ul><ul><li>What criteria do I use? </li></ul>
  5. 5. How’s Writing Taught ? <ul><li>According to Baseline Study (200 2 ) on non-linguistic English programs : </li></ul><ul><li>only 7% of teachers taught students to plan, draft, and edit their texts </li></ul><ul><li>about 60% of students estimated their skill of writing on professional topics as low or very low at the end of the course </li></ul>
  6. 6. What’s Writing as a Process? <ul><li>Things writers usually do when they write </li></ul><ul><li>identify why they are writing </li></ul><ul><li>identify whom they are writing for </li></ul><ul><li>decide on the topic </li></ul><ul><li>gather material through observing, brainstorming, making notes or lists, talking to others, and reading </li></ul><ul><li>plan how to go about the task and how to organize the material </li></ul><ul><li>write a draft </li></ul><ul><li>read the draft critically </li></ul><ul><li>revise for content, organization, and mistakes </li></ul><ul><li>prepare more drafts and then a final version </li></ul><ul><li>proofread for errors </li></ul><ul><li>What is the teacher’s role? </li></ul>
  7. 7. Writing Case (1): What to Correct? <ul><li>Theory of crisys nature was mansioned by K.Marks. And it is still actuall. Marks mansioned main idea of crisis – crysis is the reason of the difrence between producing and consumption. Producing problems leads to the higher prices which in their turn leads to lover consumption. There are lots of problems of nowadays financial crisis. It’s a lot costs for manufacturer to keep on producing unbuyable goods. That’s why there are a lot of unsatisfied consumers. The unemployment problem is a result of low level of consumption and producing. So, we could see a lot of problems of FC. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Writing Case (2): What to Correct? <ul><li>The theory of crisis nature was worked out by K. Marx. His ideas are still up-to-date. Marx formulated the fundamentals of the economic crisis: the cause of crisis is a disproportion between production and consumption. Production problems lead to higher prices which, in their turn, lead to lower consumption. There are lots of problems of today’s financial crisis. It costs the manufacturer a lot to keep on producing unusable goods. That’s why, there are a lot of unsatisfied consumers. The unemployment problem is the result of low level of consumption and production. So, we can see a lot of difficulties caused by the financial crisis. </li></ul>
  9. 9. What Assessment Criteria? <ul><li>Content </li></ul><ul><li>Textual organization </li></ul><ul><li>Range of vocabulary and structures </li></ul><ul><li>Register </li></ul><ul><li>Accuracy </li></ul>
  10. 10. What Principal Difficulties? <ul><li>Inability to structure a text properly: divide it into meaningful parts, formulate the main idea clearly and develop it </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of cohesion or coherence </li></ul><ul><li>Inconsistent register </li></ul><ul><li>Poor vocabulary, primitive grammar </li></ul><ul><li>Plagiarizing </li></ul>
  11. 11. Where to Start? conclusion introduction main body Paragraph level <ul><li>basic unit: unified , coherent, and cohesive </li></ul><ul><li>set of sentences all about the same topic and developing one central idea about this topic </li></ul><ul><li>< 70 words, 4-8 sentences </li></ul>
  12. 12. Paragraph Level Activities <ul><li>Focus on </li></ul><ul><li>paragraph structure: introduction, main body, and conclusion </li></ul><ul><li>basic features: unity, coherence, cohesion </li></ul><ul><li>purpose & paragraph types: description, process, opinion, comparison-contrast, narration, or problem-solution </li></ul><ul><li>text organization models: listing, sequence, comparison-contrast, and cause-effect </li></ul>
  13. 13. Unity <ul><li>Find a sentence that is not related to the meaning of the rest of the paragraph. </li></ul><ul><li>In American culture, the rose is a symbol of beauty and love. A young man gives roses to his sweetheart to show her how much he loves her. Large bouquets of roses are given to beauty queens, such as Miss America and Miss Universe. The gift of even a single rose shows the person receiving it that someone cares. Roses can be found in many colors and varieties. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Unity (activities) <ul><li>Read a paragraph and odd a phrase out </li></ul><ul><li>Read a paragraph and cross out a sentence that is not related to the meaning of the rest of the paragraph </li></ul><ul><li>Find irrelevant sentences in a paragraph </li></ul><ul><li>Write a paragraph and insert an absurd phrase/sentence for your friend to find </li></ul>
  15. 15. Paragraph Structure <ul><li>The following paragraph has a topic sentence and specific details supporting some general statements. Write appropriate statements and a conclusion. </li></ul><ul><li>A person can be famous for a number of reasons. ___________. For instance, Michael Jordan has phenomenal court skills and superhuman physical presence. Few other basketball players have ever matched his leaping ability. _____________________. As Thomas Alva Edison said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” _____________________. A good example is a citizen of a small town in Alabama who accidentally became the only witness to the landing of the flying saucer, and the next day his portraits appeared in every American paper. So, _____________________. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Development Part <ul><li>The following paragraph contains four statements relating to the main idea. Two of them have supporting details, and two - do not. Which two statements need specific supporting details? Write those two sentences and examples of supporting details for these two sentences. </li></ul><ul><li>There are several reasons why I’m really happy in my new job. For one thing, the hours are flexible: I can work from 9:00 to 5:00 on some days and 12:00 noon to 8:00 on other days. Second, the job pays well - $20 an hour as a minimum. Third, my boss is supportive of me and of the other employees. Best of all, I love the work because I’ve always been fascinated by solving problems. I think I’ll be working at this job for a long time. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Topic Sentence /Conclusion (activities) <ul><li>Identify the topic sentence / conclusion in a model paragraph </li></ul><ul><li>Choose an appropriate topic sentence / conclusion from some suggested </li></ul><ul><li>Write the topic sentence /conclusion for each set of details </li></ul><ul><li>Read the paragraph and write the topic sentence /conclusion </li></ul><ul><li>Match the topic sentence and conclusion </li></ul>
  18. 18. Coherence <ul><li>Organize the sentences so that they make a good paragraph. </li></ul><ul><li>The careless driver was a woman. </li></ul><ul><li>A bad event in my life last year turned into something good. </li></ul><ul><li>She was busy talking to a friend and didn’t see the red light. </li></ul><ul><li>The bad thing was that a driver ran into the back of my car when I stopped for a red light. </li></ul><ul><li>My car is still a mess, but I have a great girlfriend. </li></ul><ul><li>After the crash, I jumped out of the car. </li></ul><ul><li>We started dating. </li></ul><ul><li>She was beautiful, with long black hair and green eyes! </li></ul><ul><li>I was really mad! </li></ul><ul><li>Then I met the driver. </li></ul><ul><li>B, D, F, I, J, A, H, G, E </li></ul>
  19. 19. Coherence (activities) <ul><li>Rewrite a paragraph in a more effective order </li></ul><ul><li>Organize the jumbled sentences </li></ul><ul><li>Read a paragraph and find sentences which are out of logical order. Rewrite it </li></ul><ul><li>Write a jumbled paragraph and give it to your friend to rearrange the ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Make up a story from the stripes which are given in a jumbled order </li></ul>
  20. 20. Cohesion (activities) <ul><li>Find the linking words in a paragraph and identify what type of organization they follow </li></ul><ul><li>Fill in the links on a sentence level (each pattern of organization separately and mixed) </li></ul><ul><li>Use signal words to combine each set of sentences into one sentence </li></ul><ul><li>Fill in the gaps choosing the right linking words from those given in brackets </li></ul><ul><li>Construct a paragraph combining suggested sentences </li></ul><ul><li>Make up a card for a partner with three sentences to illustrate each pattern of organization. Ask him/her to underline all the signals and identify the pattern </li></ul>
  21. 21. Proofreading <ul><li>Find spelling mistakes in the sentences below. Each sentence has just one letter wrong which makes all the difference. </li></ul><ul><li>They lived happily even after. </li></ul><ul><li>Today’s special: Frozen soap with mushrooms. </li></ul><ul><li>Rivaldino was sent off for licking Figo on the knee. </li></ul><ul><li>Enjoy the desert on your own: Hire a cat to take you there! </li></ul><ul><li>Have you ever thought of changing your wife? I bet you have. Who hasn’t? </li></ul><ul><li>Jack will be highly honoured; he will be deceived even by the Prime Minister. </li></ul><ul><li>Mrs. Bently passed away yesterday at the age of 93. She was loved by all who knew her will. </li></ul><ul><li>Source: Medgyes, Peter (2002) p207. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Ten Ways to Make Students HATE Writing <ul><li>teach writing for no real-life purpose </li></ul><ul><li>always give writing as a home task </li></ul><ul><li>focus on the product rather than on the process of writing </li></ul><ul><li>underestimate the importance of teaching basic conventions of composition </li></ul><ul><li>isolate writing from other language skills </li></ul><ul><li>allow no interaction between students </li></ul><ul><li>take responsibility for the success yourself </li></ul><ul><li>use the same approach to everyone in class </li></ul><ul><li>overcorrect </li></ul><ul><li>hate writing yourself </li></ul><ul><li>How can we make it a pleasure? </li></ul>
  23. 23. Learn to write with us : a process-based writing textbook by S uchkova S., Dudnikova G., Adayeva O. <ul><li>reflective practice approach </li></ul><ul><li>skills integrated </li></ul><ul><li>system of various tasks at every stage </li></ul><ul><li>from paragraph to article, essay, review, story, report, CV, letters, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>tips and effective writing strategies </li></ul><ul><li>punctuation guide and appendices </li></ul>
  24. 24. How to Make Writing Less Stressful? <ul><li>choose relevant tasks </li></ul><ul><li>combine writing with other skills and simple text analysis tasks </li></ul><ul><li>train writing strategies </li></ul><ul><li>teach conventions </li></ul><ul><li>provide exercises focused on vocabulary development, spelling and grammar </li></ul>
  25. 25. THANK YOU <ul><li>Questions and comments are welcome </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>