Saturday, September 29, 2012

Excellent Online Interactives to Teach Different Writing Formats to ELLs and EOs Alike

For many English language learners, developing proficiency in writing is very difficult.  Often times, it is the one item in the reclassification process that they rarely meet.  This leads to them never being officially recognized as being proficient in English.  Will this prevent them from going to college?  No.  However, they will more likely than not need to take remedial writing classes at whatever college/university they attend after high school.

So what can teachers do to change this scenario?  With the new Common Core English language arts standards being unveiled throughout the country this year, English language learners should finally be able to develop proficiency in that one skill, writing, which has eluded the vast majority of them for years.  For this to occur, teachers will need to not only include more in-class activities which are both engaging and highly for ELLs to participate in, but also add technology tied to those lessons being worked on in class.

One key difference for many ELLs is the English linear rhetorical style of writing. They must learn how convey on paper their ideas in ways that are delivered differently in their countries.  For example, if they are from many Asian cultures, a circular development occurs in which the author never tells the reader 'the answer" as in, for example, DeMaupassant's THE NECKLACE.  Imagine a student's confusion in trying to learn the English linear style.  He goes from writing around the problem to identifying it to the reader.  This is new and takes lots of exposure to clarify the differences for the ELL.

To support students in learning the persuasive writing style here, bring in INTERACTIVE PERSUASIVE ESSAY GUIDE Print out the graphic organizer first so that ELL has a planning sheet to refer to in putting together his argument.  Notice the limited space.  Students are expected to put words and phrases in those boxes and not sentences.  If this were a team of 2 effort, the two could discuss their points of view before entering the writing stage.  Here the ELL could both receive and give feedback on the outline notes before the actual writing of the essays took place.

THINKING PRESS offers several creative writing options for students including writing a newspaper article of any length.  Think of this as a news story with extensive descriptive details on some key event in a novel, the news, the school, an alien invasion, etc.  The limits would be those of imagination only.  There is also the option of writing a brochure.  This is another style of writing with the goal many times of selling something.  There are 2 other options for writing here as well.

ELLs need lots of practice in mastering English writing.  By finding a wide range of writing activities for them to practice with, teachers are offering many options which all have one goal--to provide ELLs with lots of time to master writing.  Further, to lower stress levels for these students, correct in pencil if at all possible.  Students like to rewrite their work taking care of the corrections noted.  If pen must be used, try green, lavendar, etc., but not red.  Also, focus on 1 or 2 major errors in the work.  If every error is pointed out, it is disheartening to say the least.

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