Category: Teach Writing

See How Easily You Can Use Process Approach to Teaching Writing Inside the Classroom

There are two main approaches to teaching and practicing writing inside the classroom; process and product writing. In teaching writing we focus either on the product of the writing activity or on writing process itself. When concentrating on the product we are only interested in the aim of the writing task which is ultimately having a written text which is called the end product but when we focus on writing as a process, we pay more attention to the various stages that any piece of writing should go through. Simply, when teaching writing using process approach we aim at developing students’ skills that should be employed when they write such as drafting, editing, redrafting and finally publishing their work. In this approach we ask students to consider some procedures and spend time in some phases to get a good piece of work at last.

Process approach to writing consists of the following stages:

1. Brainstorming:

With the help of brainstorming, the writing task should start. In this stage students should think about the topic given. This may be done as whole-class activity or in groups so that students benefit from each other. In this stage the teacher elicits the ideas from students and writes each one on the board without eliminating any. The ideas can be put in linear order or in mind map.

2. Organizing stage:

Once the ideas are put randomly on the board, it is now the time to eliminate some and organize the rest of them. Ideas can be organized as main support, minor support and examples. While organizing, it is normal for students with the teacher to add or delete information. Actually keeping adding and deleting is the main characteristic of this approach until we reach the final product.

3. Writing the first draft:

After organizing the ideas, students start writing their essays. They may change the order or rearrange the main supports or the minor supports. It is a myth that people can write a perfect essay from the first time. There is always a mistake either in the organization or in the grammar or in the word/form choice. This leads us to the following stages; editing and proof reading.

The difference between editing and proof reading is that editing refers to “what you write” whereas proof-reading refers to “how to write”. This distinction is very important in process writing since we should focus on only one thing to correct at a time. It is not advised to correct the organization mistakes and the grammar mistakes at the same time. Students might get confused and not be able to correct all the mistakes. It is also hard for the teacher to correct everything at the same time.  It is logical to start dealing with the organization of the ideas and content (editing) since the sentences may change because of the feedback.

4. Editing:

As mentioned before editing deals with “what you write”. So in this stage the teacher gives the students feedback to look at the content and the organization of ideas. The teacher gives students some questions asking them to revise their essays and edit them to include the following basic features:

  1. Is there a main idea? Is it clear?
  2. Is the introduction interesting for the reader?
  3. Do the paragraphs develop naturally? Are they relevant to the main idea?
  4. Are the ideas supported well? Are there enough examples/details?
  5. Are the transitions chosen correctly and in the right place?
  6. Is there a conclusion? Does it have a summary?

Then students should edit their essays to add examples, support the main idea, add a summary and delete redundancy.

Once the content and the organization of ideas satisfy the students, then they write a second draft and make it ready for proof-reading.

5. Proof-reading:

As mentioned before proof-reading deals with “how you write”. In this stage the piece of writing is checked for any spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes. To be more precise the teacher should check and look for the following:

  1. Any sentence fragments and run-on sentences.
  2. References without pronouns.
  3. Redundancy of ideas.
  4. Spelling mistakes.
  5. Repetition of the same words.
  6. Punctuation mistakes.
  7. Wrong tense choice.
  8. Misused modifiers.
  9. Style inappropriate for the audience.

6. Publishing the final product:

The student should make the necessary changes in his/her piece of writing after receiving the proof-reading feedback and then write the essay again as the last version.

This means that the same essay needs to be written at least 3 times; first draft, second draft after editing and the final product after proof-reading.


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Simple Guide to Writing a Basic Essay – Part 2

According to Simple Guide to Writing a Basic Essay – Part 1, when deciding to write an essay we should consider three important things: subject, target reader(s) and purpose. Also, we recognized the main four types of essays and we became aware of the three components of every essay which are the introduction, the body and the conclusion. We have tackled only the introduction in part 1. Here are some information about the other two components.

2. The body of an essay:

The body of an essay is the part between the introduction and the conclusion. It contains as much as information about the subject of the essay. It contains one paragraph at least but you can write more paragraphs depending on the subject and the amount of information you have about it. The body should give examples, evidence and more details.

Each paragraph in the body should include the following sentences:

  • Topic sentence: to tell the reader what the paragraph is going to be about.
  • Detail sentence: to tell the reader more about the subject. Each paragraph can have many detail sentences which should include examples and evidence.
  • Concluding sentence: to wrap up what have been already said in the paragraph and to prepare the readers for the next paragraph.

3. The end of an essay – The conclusion:

Just as every essay has a clear beginning, it should have a clear ending, too. It is the last paragraph which is known as the conclusion and which makes sound finish to the essay.

The concluding paragraph typically has two parts:

1. The summary statement: which restates the thesis sentence in a fresh way to reinforce the main idea of the essay.

It is very important to start your concluding paragraph with a summary statement because it helps the reader to recall the ideas you have expressed in the essay.

To write a good summary statement, you should look again at the thesis sentence and try to rephrase it without repeating the key words and phrases in the thesis sentence because you don’t want your summary statement to sound repetitive and boring. Using the thesaurus is a good way to find more interesting words with the same meaning.

Here is an example of a thesis sentence and a summary statement in an essay on “Toyota Corolla”

Thesis sentence: Many people prefer buying “Toyota Corolla” because of its competitive price, fuel economy, and high resale value.

Summary statement: reasonable price, low miles per gallon, and the attractive resale value make the popularity of “Toyota Corolla” in today’s market.

2. The clincher: which is the final thought that should create a good and lasting impression on the reader. It is also referred as the “closer” as it is your last opportunity to connect with the reader. To make a good clincher, you should return to the technique you used when writing the “hook” in the introduction. Here is a list of clinchers:

  • Finish the story you told at the beginning.
  • Ask a controversial question.
  • Use another quotation related to the opener one.
  • Make a prediction or recommendation based on the facts you presented.

Revise your essay:

Revision makes you consider which ideas to add or delete and which words or phrases to change to make your essay sound better. You should make sure that every word, sentence and paragraph makes sense to the reader. Here are three areas you should examine to improve the content and style of your essay:

  1. Clarity: is the essay clearly and logically written.
  2. Unity: do all the paragraphs relate to the central idea of the essay.
  3. Coherence: do the ideas flow smoothly.

Proof read your essay:

Whereas revision focuses on improving the content of the essay. Proof reading deals with recognizing and correcting errors. These errors can relate to capitalization, punctuation, spelling and grammar.

Last-minute tips:

  • If you have time, set your essay aside for a while and then come back to it later. You will notice ways to make your essay better, and you will see more errors to correct.
  • Read the essay aloud to yourself. Often you will hear errors that you may not catch while reading silently.
  • Have a friend to read your essay and give you his/her feedback about errors, confusing parts and suggestions for improvement.

Simple Guide to Writing a Basic Essay – Part 1

Although there are many topics and purposes for writing an essay, your essay will have the same format and the basic structure. This article will guide you to the things you should consider and the necessary steps that you should follow to write a simple basic essay.

There are three important things you should consider when you decide to write an essay: subject, target reader(s) and purpose.

1. Subject:

Most of the times, the subject of the essay will be given to you. If it’s not, you should write about what you know.

2. Target reader(s):

Many times, your target reader will be your teacher but other times your target readers will be your peers, parents, employers, newspaper editors or the community.

Your target readers determine what to write in your essay and how to write it. So before you start writing, you should consider the following:

  • The interests and perspectives of your readers.
  • Selecting the topic that is relevant to your readers if it is not given to you.
  • Using language and examples that are appropriate to your readers.

3. Purpose:

Considering the purpose means you determine why you are writing the essay and what type of essay you are writing. Each type has certain uses and styles. Here are the main four types of essays:

1. Narrative essays: Telling a story.

In this essay, you tell a story about a real-life experience and involve the readers by making the story as vivid as possible.

2. Descriptive essays: Painting a picture.

In this essay, you describe a person, place, object, …etc. and communicate a deeper meaning through the description using colorful words and sensory details.

3. Expository essays: Writing only facts.

In this essay, you present a balanced analysis of the topic. You explain or define a topic using facts, statistics and examples. This kind of essay includes the comparison and contrast essay, the cause and effect essay, and the “how to” or process essay.

4. Persuasive essays: Convincing me.

In this essay, you try your best to convince the reader to accept your point of view or recommendation. Here, you should use logic, examples, expert opinion and sound reasoning. You should also present all sides of the argument and communicate clearly why a certain point of view is correct.

Structure of the essay:

Every essay has three components: a beginning, middle and an end. The beginning is the first paragraph which is called the introduction. The middle is called the body of the essay. It often consists of three or two paragraphs. At the end of the essay there is a final paragraph which is the conclusion of the essay.

1. The introduction:

The first paragraph of the essay or the introduction has two main purposes: to attract the reader’s attention and make him/her want to read more, and to prepare the reader for the direction that the essay is going to take. The introduction usually has two main parts:

1. The dramatic opener or the hook:

It pulls the reader to the essay. It grabs his/her attention. It is often a short sentence that frames your essays. Here are some examples of some hooks:

  • (Question) What is more valuable than gold? (an essay on friendship).
  •  (Imperative) Look into the heavens and count the stars if you can. (an essay on outer space).

2. The thesis statement or topic sentence:

It states the main idea of the essay. It is one or two sentences at the end of the introduction that tells the reader what your essay is about. Here is an example of a thesis statement about friendship: Having good friends is great as they make life enjoyable.

Here is an example of the whole first paragraph of an essay on “friendship”.

What is more valuable than gold? “A good friend” is my answer. Having good friends is great as they make life valuable and enjoyable.

To Be Continued …

A Lesson Plan to Teach Email Writing.

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Email-writing aims ultimately at:

  1. Improving social skills ( saying “thank you”, sending an invitation, offering help or support, ………etc. )
  2. Asking for information informally.
  3. Exchanging ideas and opinions.
  4. Writing about some personal experience.

Here is a model for an email writing lesson plan

Objectives:

At the end of this lesson Ss should be able to:

  1. Compose a written text (an email) based on a familiar subject.
  2. Recognize the differences between writing a letter and writing an email.

Warm up:

  1. Discuss email-writing focusing on personal experience, reasons, advantages, feelings, form, expressions, ………
  2. Show the class a real model of an email (on a wall sheet, overhead projector or data show) and encourage Ss to talk about what they see.

Presentation (Introduce the rules of email-writing using the previous model of the email)

  1. Show Ss the box where we should write the email address of the receiver and how to write it.
  2. Show Ss the box where we should write the subject of the email.
  3. Point to the word “Dear” referring to the name of the receiver after it.
  4. Tell Ss what to write at the beginning of the email ( informal greeting and then tell what you are writing about )
  5. Ask Ss to read the body of the email and check their understanding.
  6. Tell Ss what to write at the end of the email (“Best regards”, …. and under it; the name of the sender )

Practice (Ss practise email-writing in pairs)

  1. Select with Ss a familiar subject to write an email about to a friend.
  2. Specify the email address and the name of the receiver and write them on the board.
  3. Elicit some suggested sentences to be impeded in the body of the email.
  4. Ask Ss to work in pairs and write the email (in a separate paper) as the model they saw before, go round to check and give help.
  5. Take some emails and show them to the class. Read out them and provide feedback.
  6. Each pair take their email to make the correction needed and then come to the front showing the class the final version and read the email aloud.

Finish the lesson:

  1. By reminding Ss with the rules of writing an email.
  2. By asking Ss to write another email at home after specifying the information needed for doing that.

Some Writing Tasks for Beginners

Presentation1

Writing is like swimming – it needs a conscious effort and repeatedly practice. We as teachers should be aware of the difficulties our learners may face on their writing tasks at elementary level.
Unexpectedly I think it is not easy for elementary students to simply copy a couple of lines without making mistakes or compose a paragraph on their own. Therefore, I suggest the following tasks that enable learners to write in English without having the burden of thinking too much about content and text organization.

Some controlled writing tasks:
1. Present a sentence to the class, then cover it and make the class write it from memory.
2. Hand out a text including some mistakes for the class to find.
3. Distribute a story in the classroom with some missing words asking pupils to write them correctly.
4. Take a story, then cut the sentences into strips and distribute them in the classroom. Pupils can work in pairs: One is writing and the second student is running to find all the paper strips in the room and then dictate them from memory to his partner. After dictating, the sentences need to be ordered
correctly and told by one of the students.

Some guided writing tasks:
1. Let students read a text and note 5 to 7 keywords. Then put the text aside and try to reconstruct the original text using the keywords.
2. Let students listen to a story and then write about the main ideas included in it.
3. Ask questions that the learners are answering based on a picture. What/who can you see? Where is it? What happened? What will happen next?
4. Expose the students to some factual information in table like city or country fact files or personal profiles, then ask them to write a new version of the text based on the given one.

Writing is not a frightening experience. By doing some controlled and guided activities learners can find a balance between rule oriented (spelling, grammar) and creative expression.

THREE Ways of Giving Feedback in Process Writing

writing process1

There are three main ways of giving feedback to students when using process approach to writing. They are as follow:

1. Teacher editing:

This is more suitable for beginner students who start writing. The teacher should do the editing and the proof-reading with students to provide more guidance and set an example.

2. Peer-editing:

Here, the texts should be interchanged and the editing is done by other students. Students exchange their papers and comment on each other’s papers as it is common for writers in the real life to ask their friends or colleagues to check their writing for any mistakes.

3. Self-editing:

It is very common for writers to miss their own mistakes so it is recommended to leave their texts for a night, empty their mind and deal with some other work then they return to their papers with clear mind to start the process of self-editing. In the classroom environment, we can have students write their essays one day, collect the papers and provide students with the checklist of the editing and proof-reading features. The next day the teacher can have students edit and proof-read their texts themselves or in pairs or with the help of the teacher if they are beginner students.

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