Express yourself: Writing skills for high school

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Alternatively, you can also respond again to a prompt without rereading your original copy first, and then compare to see how your Spanish has changed. Want more help with beginner or intermediate Spanish?

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Learn more here. Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today! Nice article to improve our creative writing in Spanish. Creative thinking is the first step to develop writing skill and to improve our communication and knowledge. Thanks for sharing the article. Your email address will not be published. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Get Started. Post Author: Joan B. Joan B. Joan aims to help students improve on tests and increase their conversational ability when traveling to Spanish-speaking countries. As students progress in their writing skills, they will need to learn to write more. Although reading fluency has received a great deal of attention, writing fluency is often neglected. The idea is for students to write as many words as they can as fast as they can.

The instructional sequence for power writing is quite simple. Students are given a prompt and timed for one minute. Power writing releases further responsibility to students in that they are provided only with a general topic and a set amount of time. Students compete against themselves, not other members of the class, with the goal of increasing their fluency.

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Power writing also provides students with self-created material to revise. In addition, power writing provides teachers with assessment information that they can use in planning instruction. We all make mistakes when we write, especially when we write quickly. An important fact is that we notice these mistakes when we reread our work.

Teachers using power writing as an assessment tool do not worry about the mistakes that students notice in their writing, but they do pay attention to the mistakes that their students do not notice. Independent writing is the ultimate goal of our gradual release of responsibility in writing instruction. It's important to say this: We don't use this model so that students become good at interactive writing or using writing models. We do this so that students can write for a variety of purposes, including responding to a prompt.

As Carol Jago , p. We know that simply assigning writing—causing writing—rather than teaching writing is not helpful and violates the concept of a gradual release of responsibility. Students must know what is expected of them and believe that they can accomplish it. Writing rubrics, especially rubrics that are developed with students, provide students with clear expectations and guidance as they respond to prompts.

We have found a Web-based rubric creation system, rubistar. For reading instruction, one way to think about the gradual-release-of-responsibility model is in terms of classroom organization and structure. Reading strategies and skills can be introduced to the whole class, practiced with small groups, and then reinforced with individual students.

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The first 5 to 15 minutes are devoted to a focus lesson. The idea of the focus lesson is to provide students with instruction in a specific skill or strategy based on a piece of text. The point is to model what good readers do and to provide students with explicit instruction. Every piece of text could be used for a host of different purposes; the key to the focus lesson is establishing a specific purpose with students. Next, the teacher meets with one or two small groups of students per day for 10 to 20 minutes for guided instruction.

Students in these groups are selected based on similar needs or interests, and groups range from two to five students. During this time, the teacher may follow up with another reading with the same purpose as the focus lesson or may provide some assessment-driven instruction such as word study, making meaning, strategy use, or understanding literary devices to name a few.

Regardless, the guided instruction should be tailored to the needs of the students in the group. While the teacher meets with the guided-instruction group, the rest of the class is engaged in collaborative learning. Collaborative learning requires that all students work with at least one other person; the groups can become as large as five members. The key is to provide students with meaningful and relevant activities that are connected with the content and purpose established earlier. As guided instruction and collaborative learning rotations come to an end, students work for 25 minutes on independent reading.

While students read independently, the teacher meets with individual students to confer and assess reading. The point of the independent reading is to use the skills and strategies acquired over the term with books that students can read by themselves. In Chapter 3 we also explore how free voluntary reading, such as Sustained Silent Reading, can be used with adolescents. Much like the gradual release of responsibility in writing instruction, the structure of reading instruction must provide for individual differences and must ensure that students have access to models before being expected to perform skills and strategies on their own.

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Literary devices are studied across texts and genres before students experiment with these devices in their writing. Literary devices are taught out of context or with texts that are too difficult for students to understand; students are not expected to write using these devices. As you may have noticed by now, we believe that English teachers must develop their students' literacy skills.

We have noted that English classrooms should be organized around big ideas, that these big ideas should matter and be relevant to students, and that instruction should follow a gradual-release-of-responsibility model to ensure that all students progress along the continuum of literacy and language acquisition. We also know that an entire curriculum is assigned to English teachers and that their job is not easy. In addition to developing and extending each student's literacy skills, English teachers must ensure that students develop their skills of literary analysis.

This does not mean that English teachers have to use whole-class novels to do so. Let's stop by Ms. Javier's classroom and listen in on her focus lesson. The purpose of her lesson is to facilitate students' understanding of tone—how to read for tone, how to recognize changes in tone, and how authors use words to establish tone. An important point is that the focus on tone was not the overall theme, big idea, or essential question that guided the inquiry of this group of students.

Think about the ways that Ms. Javier might focus on tone a literary device that the state standards require to be taught. She might give students a definition for tone, such as this: The attitude an author takes toward a subject or character—such as hateful, serious, humorous, sarcastic, solemn, objective—conveys the tone or mood. The author can use dialogue, settings, or descriptions to set a tone or mood.

Does testing students' understanding of this definition help them read and write better? Simply testing the definition probably won't even help students on the state standardized test—if they remember the definition that long. Most standards-aligned assessments require that students use the information, not just regurgitate it. Could Ms. Javier use a grade-level text or whole-class novel to teach her students about tone?

Of course she could, but that would violate our earlier discussions about text selections and gradual release of responsibility. It seems reasonable to suggest that the text difficulty should be reduced when introducing new vocabulary and concepts. That's not rocket science, but it's important.

The students in Ms. Javier's class had been engaged with the essential question for several weeks, reading widely on the topic and writing in response to their readings and to prompts suggested by Ms. Javier and other students in the class. Javier used her focus-lesson time to select texts and provide instruction on literary devices. Her students had become accustomed to reading along with her with their eyes as she read aloud. They also knew that they would stop periodically and discuss the text and write about it. As the class begins, the students notice that Ms. Javier has projected the picture book Faithful Elephants Tsuchiya, on the screen, using a document camera.

She reminds her students that authors use words to set a tone and that the tone is something that readers infer, not something that the author says directly. Before beginning she reviews examples of phrases found in other books and the tones they represent. Javier reads the first page, in which cherry blossoms are blooming and people are visiting a zoo. The illustration suggests that the story is set in Japan. I like the tone—it's hopeful. People are out visiting the zoo on a wonderful spring day.

She reads again, noting that her students should keep their eyes and ears ready for changes in the tone. After a few more pages, she pauses. Readers have just found out that three elephants used to live at this zoo while Japan was at war. People were worried that bombs might fall on the zoo and that the animals would escape into the city. Through her discussion with the students and their selection of specific words, they decide that the tone has changed to fear.

This process continues, and the readers learn that the elephants were killed, starved to death, while Japan was bombed during World War II. Several shifts in tone occur; hope, fear, resignation, love, tragedy, mourning, anger, and resolution are all words the students use to describe various points in the text. Each student has a two-column journal. In their journals, the students identify the changes in tone in the left column and the author's words that led them to identify the tone in the right column.

As the focus lesson comes to an end, Ms. You see, literary devices are important tools that authors use to help readers. Students need to be able to identify these devices and use them in their own writing. We wholeheartedly support a focus on literary devices and responding to literature. Our argument is with the way these devices are too often taught—out of context or with books that students simply do not care about. Now that you've read this chapter, you have a sense of what we think makes up a high-quality English classroom.

You may disagree with us on some of the points. Conversations about what is possible and what we can expect are important.

But we encourage you to take a minute and reflect. If you scored yourself on the rubrics for this chapter, how did you do? How would your colleagues do? What professional development would be required to move people forward in their ability to provide an English curriculum and class in this way?

What resources might be available and useful? Having considered the answers to these questions, we move beyond the English classroom. Improving adolescent literacy is a schoolwide responsibility and does not rest on the shoulders of the English department alone. As you will see, there are specific ways that all teachers can use reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing to ensure that their students learn the content. Along the way, if done well, all students' literacy achievement will improve.

Remember, there is no good or bad place for students to be on the literacy continuum as long as they are moving forward and reading and writing more and better all of the time. This goes for students who read at or above grade level as well—they, too, can improve their performance. Unfortunately, some students lose ground in their literacy development—a situation that is almost always preventable with good teaching.

We hope we've inspired you to read further. All rights reserved. No part of this publication—including the drawings, graphs, illustrations, or chapters, except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles—may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from ASCD.

Subscribe to ASCD Express , our free e-mail newsletter, to have practical, actionable strategies and information delivered to your e-mail inbox twice a month. ASCD respects intellectual property rights and adheres to the laws governing them. Learn more about our permissions policy and submit your request online. Sale Book Mar Reading and Writing in English Classes One of the many features of middle and high schools, and one that has significant instructional implications, is the fact that teachers and their adolescent students do not spend the entire day together.

The essential question that guides our thinking about English teachers is this: Are students' reading and writing development and relevant life experiences used to explore literary concepts?

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Universal themes are the focus, as opposed to individual texts. One or two class texts are used and are based on an overall theme or question. One whole-class novel is used. Romeo asked Juliet to marry him. The friar's knowledge of herbs serves as a foreshadowing. Tybalt killed the prince's cousin. Mercutio and the nurse provide comic relief in the play. Romeo went to Mantua to live in exile. Friar Laurence comforts Romeo when he is crying over his banishment. Mercutio defends Romeo against Tybalt's insults.

The nurse comforts Juliet when her father says she must marry Paris. Power to the people Although organizing instruction around a theme, a big idea, or an essential question might be an improvement, text selection plays an important—critical, in fact—role in what students will learn. Selected texts span a range of difficulty levels. Multiple texts are used, and students select texts based on their interests and reading levels. An alternative is identified for struggling readers, or book clubs require forced choices. Grade-level texts are used.

Reading and writing instruction and materials address contemporary and engaging issues. Letters Bolden, T. Memoir King, M. I have a dream.

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New York: Scholastic. Mistakes in spelling, grammar and word choice are immediately evident. And while literacy skills are not a reflection of intelligence or knowledge, poor writing can cause a student to receive lower marks, despite their understanding of the subject being discussed. In a professional context, people may judge you as lazy or untrustworthy if you send emails full of mistakes. They are also likely to assume your spoken ability in English is quite low, though this may or may not be the case.

Fortunately, the more often you write, the easier it will be to access the English you are looking for and express yourself accurately and fluently. Researchers know that if you are a strong writer in your first language, chances are you will also be a strong writer in English. However, you can always learn to be more strategic as a writer and improve your skills by signing up for a class.

A composition course, even one aimed at native speakers, will help you improve the way you react to different texts, organize your ideas and bring together vocabulary, grammar and tone to enhance your writing. Spelling and fluency, when it comes to the actual process of putting words on paper, can be improved by taking an online course. Reading is a receptive skill that requires an individual to make meaning from the language input to which they are exposed.

In writing, learners must actually create meaning and produce their own language. It begins with translating ideas into language and moving them around so the reader can follow your train of thought. Next, comes the process of revising to find the most precise and convincing wording that renders ideas clearly and concisely.

Finally, you need to make sure there are no grammar, spelling or formatting errors which will distract the reader from what you are saying. Help students overcome their fear of a blank page by starting off your lesson with an activity that helps them generate language and ideas for their writing. This is a top down strategy that will allow them to activate prior knowledge and personal experiences that relate to the topic.

For those learners who are not strong writers in their first language, introduce and model writing strategies. Be on the lookout for learning difficulties.

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You may think spelling mistakes and poorly organized text are a result of lacking English skills but there may be another issue such as dyslexia , dyspraxia or dysgraphia that is causing the problem. The earlier a learning difficulty is diagnosed, the sooner a student can learn strategies to overcome it. Go over the difference between written and spoken English.

Every language learner eventually discovers that not everything we say in conversation is acceptable in written form. Beginner learners might need you to cover some of the most common examples such as writing going to instead of gonna. Taking a touch-typing course can be a great way for an English language learner to improve his or her writing skills. Not only does touch-typing provide a more automatized way of expressing thoughts in English, but the process of learning the keys involves dictation exercises which reinforce phonics and spelling.

As English is a notoriously difficult language to spell, this can be important in building confidence in writing and facilitating sight-reading at the same time. Learn more. Touch-type Read and Spell takes a modular and multi-sensory approach that may also be a solution for English students who struggle with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia. Learn more about helping English language learners in the classroom. View the discussion thread. Maria used to type with two-fingers, slowly and often inaccurately. Now she types faster, with fewer errors, more competently and professionally.

This has boosted her confidence in the workplace tremendously. She now recognises individual sounds in words much better, due to the auditory aspect of the multi-sensory approach in TTRS.