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High School — Writing
Writing Applications

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    Writing Applications

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      Activities: Advanced Work

      These activities can help your students reach the next level in their understanding of Writing Applications.

      Advancing the Journal

      Extend students' journal writing by emphasizing that writing is not just an academic activity that happens within the classroom. It is likely that your students already use writing in the form of instant messages, e-mails, notes and lists. Encourage young writers to develop their writing lives outside of school by asking them to use their journals (either individually or in groups) to record the steps they take to complete a creative writing project, such as setting up a blog or writing a newsletter. In addition to chronicling the project's progress, students can use the journal to reflect on the process of project creation. Ask them to log an entry each time they work on the project, considering the following questions and tasks:

      • How did you decide which writing project to select?
      • What inspired your ideas? How did you decide what to write about?
      • Describe your revision process. What was it like to make changes to your work?
      • If you worked on your project with a team, describe a typical day on this team.
        • Did you all get along? What conflicts did the members of the team have with one another? How did you resolve these conflicts?
        • Did you all share the same vision for the project?
        • Where and when did the team work or practice? How did working in this place affect the team?
      • What aspects were challenging? What was rewarding?
      • Describe both the details of the writing experience and the lessons learned.
      Advancing the Writer's Conference: Peer Conferences

      After writers create drafts, it is helpful to get feedback from others. Provide Peer Conference guidelines to help students offer constructive feedback for one another. The following questions will keep students on track during the conference:

      • Narrative Writing
        • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the writer's beginning?
        • Do the events of the narrative unfold clearly? What do you notice about the writer's narrative structure?
        • Are there any characters you identified with or felt strongly about?
        • Does the writer use any interesting figurative language?
        • Does the writer bring the piece to a cohesive conclusion?
        • Did you enjoy the story? Why or why not?
      • Informational Writing
        • Does the introduction establish the topic and argument? What is the writer's essential question?
        • What supporting details or examples does the writer offer? Are these sufficient to make the point?
        • How does this writer end the informational piece? What suggestions or thoughts do you have about the conclusion? Are your questions answered?
        • What have you learned from reading this piece?
      • Persuasive Writing
        • Does the writer begin with a clearly stated position?
        • Does the writer support the thesis with convincing evidence?
        • Does the writer advance the argument by using a variety of methods: considering the other side, using testimony, appealing to logic and emotion, and leaving the reader with a call to action?
        • Were you persuaded? Why or why not?
      Inspired Writers: Writing Personal Letters

      Writers must learn to write effectively with and to one another because a good deal of workplace and personal writing takes place in collaborative situations. In this spirit, set up a letter-writing exchange.

      Begin by exploring texts that include letters, such as the Griffin and Sabine series by Nick Bantock or a collection of the letters between John and Abigail Adams. As they explore such texts, ask students to talk about the art of letter writing. Is there something about the experience of opening a card or letter from your mailbox that is different than opening an e-mail in your inbox? How do letters, written by hand on paper, or typed and printed in ink, differ from an instant message that flashes on the screen?

      Organize a letter writing exchange by pairing students with one another or with teachers, coaches or other members of the school community who are willing to participate. Ask them to engage in weekly correspondence, delivering the letters to mailboxes (shoe boxes or folders will do) in a location that students and staff visit frequently. Encourage them to share daily events, thoughts on current events or discussion on happenings around the school.

      At the end of a month-long exchange, ask students to reflect on the process of communicating with another person through letters. In our technologically savvy times, letter writing is somewhat of a lost art. It's rare for students to engage in this kind of communication. Ask them to share their observations--and maybe some of their letters.

      Text Support: The Works Cited

      Once writers have gathered information to include as references in their writing, provide ample opportunity to put together and use accurate Works Cited.

      Some useful rules to consider when crafting works-cited are:

      • Label and center the title Works Cited at the top of the page;
      • Use a hanging indent; begin the first line of each entry against the left margin, but indent each subsequent line;
      • Double-space all entries;
      • Italicize or underline titles;
      • Alphabetize the list of texts by the first word in the entry (usually the author's last name).
      Exploring Strategies and Forms for Argument

      Ask students to consider and use the following forms in their persuasive writing:

      • Compare and contrast: A comparison shows the similarities--how two or more things are alike. A contrast shows the differences-- what makes them distinct.
        Two-part essay One paragraph on A, then one paragraph on B. For example, an essay persuading readers that apples are better than oranges would include a paragraph on the merits of apples, and then a paragraph on the lesser features of oranges.
        Alternating essay The writer introduces A, followed by a sentence on B, and so on. For example, the student might say that apples are a perfect snack food while oranges are hard to peel.
      • Consider cause-and-effect: As writers argue a thesis, it is helpful to explain why something is the way it is or how it came to be.
      • Create a definition: Create an impression on the reader by using specific details, vivid language and sensory description.
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