Of the 4 language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing), writing is the one that ELLs struggle with the most. In fact, in many cases, it is the last skill to be mastered. Sometimes full mastery never seems to come no matter what supports teachers have built into their classes. Low scores in this language skill area also bring down annual test scores on standardized examinations such as the CST (California Standards Test) and low scores can lead to state/federal interventions on a multitude of levels affecting funds and staff.
So what should be done? Teaching to the test is not the answer. Instead, focusing on their weakest skill through creative modern-day prompts may be and that is where the NATIONAL WRITING PROJECT comes in. In the article I have attached, you will find 30 very original ideas to make writing accessible and even enjoyable for your ELLs and other struggling students. Each suggestion is linked to an in-depth article on the inspiration for the idea. They are all free resources which you may explore at will.
Writing needs to be done frequently with meaningful feedback highlighting strengths while offering suggestions in only 1 or 2 areas (too many suggestions will destroy self-confidence). ELLs also need to have time to play with language and writing. After all, they are writing in a language that is not theirs so they need more time to explore the nuances of English. Developing writing assignments that spark interest and offer inspiration should be the goal:)
ELL TEACHER PROS