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High School — Writing
Writing Applications

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    Writing Applications

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      Activities: Additional Instruction and Practice

      These activities may be useful for students who require additional instruction and practice with Writing Applications.

      Extending the Reader's Journal

      Once students are comfortable using their journals with their reading, encourage them to consider the following questions and ideas. They might select a question each night as they read and prepare for the next day's class discussion.

      • What questions do you have about the chapter/section/passage?
      • What is the most vivid image from the chapter/section/passage? Why does this image resonate with you? How does the language work in this image?
      • What vocabulary or syntax challenges you?
      • What themes, symbols or motifs do you notice?
      • What figurative language impresses you?
      • How does this reading relate to the day's class discussion?
      • How does the dilemma of the character(s) connect to other texts, to you or to world events?
      • In what way does the author establish a sense of place?
      • Is there anything in this piece of literature that represents the culture of the writer? What cultural perspective is examined or represented?
      • What attitudes, behaviors or philosophies are questioned?
      • What insights from the text connect to your own experience?
      The Writer's Conference: Talking about Students' Language

      As students grow in their writing ability, ask them to focus on the language they use for various purposes. Begin by assuming students will be influenced by the language they use at home and in their speech, which may be a dialect of English or a different language altogether. The goal is to help students recognize the value of their own unique expressions as well as the need to use more formal, Standard English when appropriate. Talk with students in conferences about flexibility in writing, so that they can communicate to wider audiences, not just to their peers or classmates. As students adopt more widely-accepted English in their writing, encourage them to retain the flavor of language that they have acquired from their families or neighborhoods.

      Inspired Writers: Writing Letters to the Editor

      Follow an examination of letters to the editor by asking students to write their own letters in response to an article they feel strongly about. The key in this activity is convincing students to select an article that has inspired a genuine reaction.

      After students have drafted their letters, ask them the following questions to spur their revision process:

      • Who is the audience for this letter and what is the stated purpose? Why are you writing this letter to the editor? Is your purpose clear?
      • What technical terms or specific vocabulary did you use in the letter? Do you need to add more detail?
      • Which facts and details support your point? Are they sufficient?
      • Are there any extraneous or unnecessary details you can remove?
      • How did you provide a sense of closure to the letter?

      Send the letters to the appropriate publications. Share both the published and unpublished letters with the class and school community to generate discussion about the social issues that students see as important to their lives.

      Text Support: Teach the Paragraph

      Focus on the paragraph as a way to tighten writing and address the key concepts of structure and purpose. Ask students to answer the following questions about each paragraph:

      • Did you begin with a clear topic sentence?
      • Did you integrate some examples, details and direct quotations from a primary or secondary source?
      • Did you adequately explain this example, detail or quotation in your own words to illustrate how it supports your thesis?
      • Did you close your paragraph with a transition to the next idea?
      Supporting the Persuasive Argument: Gathering Testimony

      Once writers have clearly stated the argument, they must gather supporting facts. Ask students to brainstorm a list of sources for relevant facts and details. Have writers gather and check these sources in order to collect compelling evidence to support their positions. The following questions will help lead students toward a convincing argument.

      • Who are the authorities on this subject? What words or testimony can you provide to support your argument? (For example, can you quote doctors when writing about a medical matter, judges when exploring a legal issue or coaches when discussing a sports-related question?)
      • Who are the people affected by the issue? In addition to quoting the research or the "experts," did you seek the words and opinions of the everyday people involved?
      • What are the arguments against this issue?
      • What quotations or testimony make a logical appeal to your readers?
      • What quotations or testimony make an emotional appeal to your readers?
      • Can you find some testimony that will get your readers involved with this issue?

      Have students gather a quotation or two on notecards for each of the above questions. Have them first categorize the cards according to the corresponding points they plan to raise in their writing. Then, ask students to write two-column notes with the key points of their argument in one column, and the quotations that support their key points in the second column. As they write the paragraphs of their persuasive responses, they use these quotations to support the main points of their argument.

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