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Writing skill building

Posted 02-05-2011 at 07:05 AM by imalith

My writing lessons have been focusing on skill building in order to get students prepared to write research reports.

My writing plan has been very successful this year. Mostly recently, I had students write an essay about their most memorable grade. The essay goal was for 2 body paragraphs to have detailed and layered elaboration. The lessons went very well. Students were able to see the difference between layer and list by examples I provided. The focus and their grade was for the elaborated paragraph. Their intros were mostly just a thesis statement. Those papers were graded and placed in writing folders.

Last week we took out those old papers to write new introductions for them. Since the writing goal was elaboration, many students only wrote a thesis statement, but not an introduction with a grabber.

I taught introduction strategies by showing examples from the state created powerpoint. Students wrote notes in a T chart. Then, I wrote my own introductions using one thesis statement about dogs. We had a great discussion about the difference between scenario and anecdote.

The next lesson is one of my favorites. In a cooperative group of 4, students looked through Odessey and Faces magazines. Our library has tons of old copies. Each student finds two articles and reads the first paragraph. The group determines the introduction strategy used in the paragraph. The group completes a table that lists the title of the article and the strategy used. They present one intro, by reading it aloud to the class and letting the class decide what strategy is used. This lesson helps them explore a variety of strategies and experience them from a professional writer's voice.

For the practicing assignment, I had students reread their memorable grade papers and choose 4 of the introduction strategies and write 4 introduction paragraphs.

Two of the strategies, "quotation" and "building background" required research. Since this was a practice, I googled "school" and came up with facts about schools. I also googled "quotes about school" and printed off a couple of pages of quotes. I made this available to students during this work. My top and middle level writers made vast improvements. My struggling writers had some trouble picking quotes that related well and transitioning the ideas into their topic sentences. I'm going to type up some of the student examples and show the ones that are smooth and others that were abrupt or unrelated, so they get the point.

One other observation is that students were writing one and two sentence "anecdotes" which really weren't little specific stories. They were more like one or two general sentences. I'm going revisit this with the class.

For the practical application, students will be required to create introductions for their research reports. I'm going to have them write 4 practice intros and then they can choose their best to include in their report.
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