How can college writing classes turn
into an active learning environment?
In my writing classes, I try to provide
my students with various opportunities to read, write, and receive
feedback. One challenge, however, is
when students are asked to write individually; they might not be motivated
enough to work on their own. On the
other hand, when assigning an activity to a group, there is often one student who
seems to be working on the activity while the other students don’t get as
involved as required.
I believe writing is a complicated topic
to teach and asking students to produce written work can be a challenging process.
To address these individual and group challenges, I have come up with a neat
strategy that I would love to share with the rest of the educators dealing with
Last week, I read over my students’ poems and was reminded how much I love my job. As teachers, we need to savour these pleasures and summon them during the more tedious moments. My students, mostly from Asia, are in a year-long EAP foundation program at Ryerson University. I asked them to write a poem based on “Where I Am From,” by George Ella Lyon.
scholastic objective was to get my students to explore their identities, but my
personal objective was to learn more about
their families, their ambitions, their countries…their lives. In class, we went
through the author’s life, stanza by stanza. We examined the details, the
imagery, and the metaphors. Then my students went home and wrote their own
Do you ever teach CLB 5 narrative paragraph writing? Do your students usually write something with pencil on paper that they later discard? Have you ever thought of using Storybird to engage and enhance writing skills or create a class anthology of stories?
Do you use Canadian or American spelling
in your classroom? Do you “correct” your students when they write color instead of colour? Have your students ever asked why you write metre when their dictionaries say meter?
As your students become more fluent in their new language, it’s a good idea to start focusing on more complex forms of writing. Essays are a great way for ESL students to practice researching, organizing information, and clearly representing their ideas. However, writing an essay in a second language can be difficult, so your students are going to need some help. Continue reading →
One of my courses specifies that students create a presentation on an educational resource and present it to their peers. The following is a model I’d like to share with you as a potential means of using a common theme with a final presentation as a way of promoting inquiry, research, collaboration, communication, planning, and writing within one term of instruction. The project comprises eight separate activities. Each activity involves the students practicing language and social skills in a variety of ways. These steps are detailed below in the section, Project Process.Continue reading →
Happy Monday TESL ON members! Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? I don’t know about you, but I love poetry! Although most of us may not use it very much to teach English to our students, many are aware that it can be a good way to teach the rhythm of English. However, I think there are so many more ways that we could use this rich form of the English language. Continue reading →
I am trying to fully understand the translingual approach – specifically how it aligns with English for academic purposes (EAP) or the much needed skill of clear, concise written communication. The idea is great, but how do we go about it?
Horner, Lu, Royster, and Trimbur (2011) propose a translingual approach for dealing with student writing in academia.
Although I agree with most of the underpinnings behind the new approach, I am not so sure how they envision it. I agree with many of their ideas, but…
I agree that students’ right to use their language (English and otherwise) should be respected. I also agree with the authors’ opposition to the monolingual “view that varieties of English other than those recognized as ‘standards’ are defective” (305). Varieties of English, they explain, include what monolinguals Continue reading →
Hey now, TESL Ontarians! Have you ever found yourself concerned that your students may leave your class/course without a solid foundation for long-term development of their writing? Perhaps they have managed to write an argumentative essay or reflective essay in your class, but you wonder what you could do to better help them achieve the feat again in the future?
During the span of my teaching career, I have felt this way at times. So, over the past several years I have been sure to include a focus on writing processes and practices that may help students achieve sustainable academic writing outcomes. In this post (as well as in a subsequent post in November), Continue reading →
As I’ve shared with you in previous blogs, one of my ongoing interests is finding ways to empower my students to become better writers of English. What is the formula?
Vocabulary skills are important (Checked √)
Grammar is important (Checked √)
Controlled practice is important (Checked √)
…Wait a minute… Modeling is super important…
According to Cumming (1995), language teachers need to not only provide text models of a good writer’s final product (what an assignment is supposed to look like at the end), but also model the cognitive process of writing. In other words, we as teachers should model writing-as-a-process that mimics the actions performed by effective writers (hint: we need to write a lot to be one too). Continue reading →