Writing activities

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Designing authentic writing activities, and discussing how to help your students write better paragraphs and essays.

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Writing activities

  1. 1. Developing Writing Activities Thomas TaskerEnglish Language Fellow Program tct118@psu.edu
  2. 2. PowerPoints and handouts…1. tesolukrainesummerinstitute.pb works.com2.personal.psu.edu/tct118/presen tations
  3. 3. Overview• Authentic writing activities ▫ What to include• Linking reading and writing ▫ Blogs ▫ Wikis• Academic writing: paragraphs & essays• Plagiarism• Creating a writing goal
  4. 4. Student writing• What kinds of writing do your students now?• What kind of authentic writing tasks do they do?
  5. 5. Authentic writing• What do you write (in general, for school, for work)?• Authentic writing activities• Authentic writing activities Academic writing• Authentic tasks to get students writing
  6. 6. Type of Language / TaskWriting functionPostcardEssayBlog postEmail to ateacher
  7. 7. Type of Language / TaskWriting function Slang expressions,Postcard phrasal verbs Paragraph unity,Essay topic sentences Vocabulary, pastBlog post tense, present perfect Making requests,Email to a apologizing, makingprofessor excuses
  8. 8. Type of Language / TaskWriting function Slang expressions, Write a postcard toPostcard phrasal verbs a friend. Paragraph unity, Compare twoEssay topic sentences places you’ve been. Vocabulary, past Blog about a storyBlog post tense, present perfect we read in class. Making requests, Write me an emailEmail to a apologizing, making explaining why youprofessor excuses can’t take the test.
  9. 9. Postcard writing task• Who are we writing to?• Brainstorm: the content of the card ▫ What are some common expressions?• Language focus ▫ Past tense (things we did)  We spent all day baking Christmas cookies. ▫ Future plans  We are having dinner with Jon tomorrow.
  10. 10. Postcard writing task• Student A: think of somebody you know who speaks English• With your partner (Student B), discuss what you want to include in your card (3 or 4 sentences is fine)• Student A: Dictate to Student B the contents of the card.• Student B: If you’re not sure about the grammar or word choice, tell Student A
  11. 11. Other authentic writing activities• Writing a ‘letter’ to the editor of a newspaper• Keep a diary• Write a resume / cover letter• Shopping list / recipes• Write comments to an online newspaper
  12. 12. Writing tied to reading• Students need to write often about what they read, and publish what they write• Have students react to the reading they are doing for class.• Have students react to topics they read in depth ▫ Research a curriculum topic ▫ Give a presentation in class ▫ Write a paper about what they discovered
  13. 13. Publishing what students write• Writing in the real world is public• Teacher Class World• Ways to publish: ▫ Pass out copies of student work ▫ Students write on blogs ▫ Students write on wikis
  14. 14. BlogsA blog is an online, semi-public journal that displays the user’s posts, and allows visitors to post responsesBlogging = individual reaction to something + the comments of othersInformal, independent writing
  15. 15. Blogging projects• Autobiography • Add a new chapter each month • Other students read, comment on• Student responses to reading, films, class discussions, curriculum topics • Follow-up writing task from class work • Students can add pictures, video, Powerpoints• Reading blog • Add 10 entries per semester about class / home reading
  16. 16. Wikis Wiki = web-based collaborative writing space• Wiki wiki means ‘quick’ in Hawai’ian• Allows multiple users to add and edit content of one shared space• Users add new pages to create a network of hyperlinked documents• More student control = more success
  17. 17. Wiki projects• A student newsletter ▫ Students add information monthly• A town / district information source ▫ A resource for tourists• Extra information on curriculum topics ▫ Assign students different topics, they create a page on the class wiki with links, pictures, videos, etc.• Student cookbook• Student essays ▫ Students have their own page for essays; other students proofread their writing, make suggestions
  18. 18. Academic writing• Overview of academic writing• Writing paragraphs• Writing essays• Process vs. product approach• Portfolios
  19. 19. Academic writing• http://owl.english.purdue.edu/• ESL writing, style guides, how to run a writing tutorial, resumes, cover letters, writing exercises
  20. 20. Academic writing skills• What do students need to succeed at writing paragraphs and essays? Be specific.• What are the challenges of teaching students paragraph and essay writing?
  21. 21. The basics: writing paragraphs• A paragraph should contain: ▫ A topic sentence ▫ Unity (one idea per paragraph) ▫ Coherence (it should make sense) ▫ Adequate development (examples, etc.)
  22. 22. Paragraph writing task1. Students turn in a paragraph they wrote at home (by email if possible)2. In class, put one paragraph on an OHP, board or handout3. Have students identify the purpose of each sentence, then discuss if the paragraph is clear (topic, unity, coherence)4. Distribute paragraphs to groups of students to evaluate
  23. 23. Essay writing• Builds on paragraph writing work• Spend time on essay structure• Formulaic to creative• Student’s voice to informed opinion (later to research paper)
  24. 24. Rearrange the steps of the writing process• ___ Publish• ___ Brainstorming• ___ Assess the topic• ___ Write the second draft• ___ Editing• ___ Revising• ___ Write the first draft
  25. 25. The 5-paragraph essay• Introduction (1 paragraph, 4-5 sentences) ▫ Hook ▫ Thesis statement• Body (3 paragraphs, 3-4 sentences) ▫ Topic sentence ▫ Supporting statements• Conclusion (1 paragraph, 4-5 sentences) ▫ Re-stated thesis statement ▫ Closing statement
  26. 26. • During the cold months of winter, I often dream of the white, sandy beaches of an island country, where the sun shines warmly upon my face. Then I wander to another corner of the world, where I find myself walking among trees tall like giants and I feel as if I am one of Hook the exotic animals running freely below. Yet each time I begin to dream of traveling to another country, my mind keeps returning to a place with historical pyramids where strange spices waft through the air and beautiful, rhythmic music lures me into a trance. For me, Introduction Egypt has always been a place that has an indelible mark of history, culture and mystery and is a place I hope to visit one day. Thesis statement• If you study history closely, you will notice that Egypt has played a central role in world history time and again. Books tell us stories from the beginning of time when pharaohs ruled the land, to today, when the fight between democracy and extreme Islamic views make Egypt a powerful player in world politics. Yet, books can only provide us with a limited view. To fully understand and experience a country, we must travel to this place, Body where we can walk on the streets where these leaders walked, visit the places where these important decisions were made, touch the monuments crafted in their honor.• Also, the culture of the Egyptians has infiltrated the ways of life in countries near and far. Today, we can see Egyptian influences in our food, clothes and even furniture. Often popular culture is influenced by Egyptian music and fashion. In America, belly dancing, Topic sentences which originated in Egypt, is popular among young women. Although the proverb reminds us that imitation is the best form of flattery, American belly dancing classes and Egyptian jewelry purchased in Ukraine are only artificial representations of this country’s culture. I want to visit Egypt’s bazaars and eat in its restaurants because such authentic experiences Supporting will create memories that I will be able to remember the next time I watch belly dancers or wear an Egyptian necklace. sentences• Finally, people often travel around the world trying to find answers to its mysteries, and Egypt has always been a place of intrigue for many travelers, including myself. I hope that my adventures will help me understand that culture’s place in history and explain why the rest of the world is so fascinated with their traditions. It is possible that my travels will only create more questions, but these questions can be the beginning of a lifetime of globetrotting.• In conclusion, Egypt’s history, culture and mysteries have transfixed the world for Conclusion centuries and its influence can be seen across the globe. I believe that we can find answers through our experiences. Books are helpful but limited, and traveling is the best way to discover unknown worlds. I hope that one day I will be able to visit Egypt so that I can satisfy my curiosity about this country, its people and traditions. Last message
  27. 27. Brainstorming tools – Story mapping Essay topic
  28. 28. Make an outlineIntroductionThesis Statement ____________________________________________Reason #1Topic Sentence ____________________________________________ Support A _____________________________________________ Support B _____________________________________________ Support C ______________________________________________
  29. 29. Reason #2, 3Topic Sentence ______________________________________________ Support A ______________________________________________ Support B ______________________________________________ Support C ____________________________________________ConclusionThesis Statement (restated in different words ) _____________________________________________
  30. 30. Revising and editing• Students revise and edit their essay first draft• Other students can read first draft and underline parts they don’t understand, or think might underline incorrect words or grammar
  31. 31. Editing and revisingStudents ask questions such as: ▫ Is my argument clear? ▫ Did I include the necessary background information? ▫ Do I present only one idea per paragraph in the body? ▫ Do my supporting statements really support my reason? ▫ Do the paragraphs fit together in a way that makes sense? ▫ Does my conclusion summarize the key parts of my essay?
  32. 32. Process vs. product approach• Multiple drafts of essays• Self editing and revising• Peer editing• Teacher editing, and suggestions about revising• Publishing
  33. 33. Portfolios: a process approach• Portfolios are used to collect samples of student work over time to track student development.• A portfolio should contain samples of a student’s work and teacher and student reflection of that work.
  34. 34. Portfolios• Writing samples such as dialogue journal entries, book reports, essays, reading log entries• All versions of the writing (1st draft, 2nd draft)• Interview notes• Peer-editing notes; teacher comments• Writing checklists (by student, peers and teacher)• A reflective report about the student’s writing development - written by the student
  35. 35. Plagiarism• What is plagiarism?• What do you do when your students plagiarize a source?• How can you encourage students to stop plagiarizing?
  36. 36. Writing goals• What is a writing goal your students could achieve this year?• By the end of the year, I want my students to…• Write complex sentences, cohesive & unified paragraph, well-structured composition, properly cited research paper
  37. 37. Questions or comments? Thomas Tasker tct118@psu.edu

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