Friday, March 6, 2015

9 Ways to Scaffold the Writing Process in the WL Classroom

Scaffolding the writing process improves student writing and significantly decreases the use of internet translators.  Below are nine ways that I have scaffolded the writing process in my French class.  Note that I did not use the steps at the same time and often provided support to students in small groups based on their readiness.  I believe that it's easier to edit than to create -  I hope this post will give you some ideas that will work for you and your students.

Pre-writing.  All of these tasks are designed to give students a "head start" for their essay writing, whether it be from a rough draft or useful expressions for the written or presentational task.

  • Gallery walk:  Students write down vocabulary and expressions in various poster categories while walking around with a marker.   
  • List-group-label:  Ask students to list as many expressions as they can think of across a broad topic such as "cars."  Then they group and label those expressions. This is a great way to get a vocabulary list that crosses units of study.
  • Venn diagram:  Use this graphic organizer to help students use verbs with three different subject pronouns - I, We, and They.
  • Quick writes:  The class before, ask students to "write" about the topic without books or notes for about ten minutes. This gives them a great jumping off point and helps you, the teacher, to gain some data about their current level of performance.  This quick write can be a rough draft.

During writing

Writing process:  When students are working on drafts of presentational tasks, follow this simple writing process:
1.  7 minutes without books or notes
2.  4 minutes with books, notes or partners
I find that dictionaries and partners can sometimes impede the writing process.  This blend of alone time and collaboration time helps students be more productive and meets the needs of a variety of learning styles (quiet versus noisy environment, works better alone or works better with collaboration).  

After writing

  • Peer feedback:  Create a quantitative worksheet that mirrors the rubric for peers to provide feedback against the rubric.  I've found that having students fill in a worksheet (as opposed to just the rubric) leads to more specific feedback.
  • Goal setting:  After reading peer feedback, ask students to write a quantitative goal for their rewrite.  (Example:  I will add 50 more words; I will add three more sentences to express my opinions about biodiversity.)  I have found that adding a student goal for rewrite makes the second draft significantly better.  
  • Quick teacher highlight:  Instead of poring over first drafts for hours, as a teacher, I like to review the peer feedback and then add a quick highlight of areas I think need improvement.  (My highlights may connect to project focus, such as expressing opinions.)

After final draft

Reflection:  Students reflect on whether they have met their goals or not and what actions they will change for future projects.  It is powerful for students to keep and review these reflections in the same place, such as a Linguafolio.

I would love to read your feedback on these ideas or to hear how you scaffold the writing process in your own classroom.  

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