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Making Writing Compositions a Positive Experience

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Writing compositions can be a hateful thing for ESL students. The papers come back full of red ink and the student feels like a failure. Here's a way to give the student a POSITIVE experience.

Cut strips of lined paper about 2 inches wide. Brainstorm a topic as a class. Divide the students into groups of four and give each group 5-6 pieces of paper. Their task is to write ONE sentence on each strip. The other students in the group check the sentence for accuracy.

When the students have completed this task, have them put the sentence strips in order of importance. At this point, I talk about transitional words such as "then", "next", etc. The students look at their sentences again, and use transitional words where appropriate. (They only have to rewrite the sentence that needs the transitional word, not the complete
sentence. This seems easier to them!)

Next I talk about introductory sentences and concluding sentences. I also inform them that the concluding sentence is most often a restatement of the introductory sentence.

The students then add introductory and concluding sentences on their strips of paper.

As a group, the students look at their sentences and agree that the order is correct. The sentences are then transferred to a piece of paper for final correction.

Students don't feel threatened by this task, and the lower students receive help from their peers. To be sure that all students are contributing to the task, I have each student write in a different color of pen..for example, student 1 has a pen with blue ink, student 2 has a pen with black ink, student number 3 has a pen with red ink, and student 4 has a pencil. Assessment then becomes very easy. Just look for ink colors.

The teacher's correction time is also less with this activity. (Something we all need, right???)

Name: Maria Hernandez
Email: mher@quik13.com
Location: Las Vegas, NV USA

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