Writing in the content areas (ii)


My previous post aimed at highlighting the importance of working with text type models and providing students with frames that scaffold their written production. 

Today I would like to share my "Ten commandments" for writing across the curriculum:

1) Spend the necessary time to make students see that they are going to have a clear purpose for their writing task.  CLIL provides a purpose for language use so this will not be a difficult aim to achieve. 

2) Deconstruct text models with students, that is, analyze the structure of the text, the use of specific vocabulary and linking words, the way arguments have been used to support the leading statement, etc.  You can see an example here

3) Allow some time for students to generate ideas and organize them in the classroom. I suggest that they should work with online dictionaries to help them face vocabulary issues while you monitor the process and answer their questions related to text structure,  sentence patterns, connectors, paraphrasing and so on.

4) Offer a wide range of writing tasks. The reason is obvious: learners learn by doing. 

5) Do not link all writing to assessment.  Students need to see that they write to learn but they should not feel anxious.  

6) Provide students with scaffolding. Needless to say that when the learner can perform the task independently, the scaffolding  should be gradually taken away. 

7) Integrate writing tasks with different activities they have been doing : write about something they have read or about a video they have seen, a  visit to the Museum, an experiment, etc.

8)  Find an audience or a reader different from the teacher. There are different ways you can do this: they can share their productions with other students in the same class or they can include their pieces of writing int he school magazine, for instance. 

9) Do not limit your feedback to the end of the writing process. Tell students they are progressing while they are writing (if you allow time for writing in the classroom, which I strongly recommend)

10) Do pair work, do peer workthe brainstorming and planning can be done in pairs. This will also be a natural way to integrate skills because students will be talking.   Introduce peer-assessment too, asking students to say something they liked about their peers' written production and something they could improve or is missing. Remind them that they should pay attention to content and not only to accuracy. You can hand out this simple tool to students so that they fill it in after  reading  their classmates' written work. 

Looking forward to knowing  about your  viewpoint on each of the  "commandments" from the list above. 

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