Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Writer's Block... Solution?

I need help.  I don't like teaching writing.  

As you know, my students are all ELL's, and they write like they talk.  I notice three main problems with my students' writing:

1.  They use present tense verbs only.  (Fun Fact: In the Hmong language, there are no past-tense verbs.  Interesting, yes.  But it's sabotaging my littles' writing!)

2.  They omit endings.  For example, they will write, "Yesterday, I walk to the store and bought some apple." (again, present tense verbs, as well as plural endings).

3.  Their sentences are simple.  VERY simple.    I want them to add more and use interesting words. Part of the problem with that, is that they lack the vocabulary to use in their writing.  We're working on the vocabulary.  Read about it in this post.

For ELL's, we work every day to develop their English language proficiency in reading, writing, listening, and speaking.  Our school uses the SIOP model.  By working with these students, I have come to realize that speaking and writing work hand-in-hand.  I need them to write exactly what they are thinking.  I need them to understand that their writing should sound like fluent speaking.

I know they have great ideas for writing.  I am just stuck as to how teach good writing to such a low group of writers.

But, I may have found a solution to get the ball rolling.  I recently found Jivey's blog, and read her section about Mentor Sentences.

Here she is modeling her use of Mentor Sentences!

I love the idea of showing students what great writing looks like, and getting them to notice all of the great things about it.  For my kids, it will take some practice.  They don't have the knowledge of what plural nouns, vivid verbs, and pronouns are.  But I feel like using Mentor Sentences could be a great start to help my kids write great sentences.

How do you teach writing?  I would love some advice!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

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