Thursday, October 4, 2012

Writing Tips

I'm going to give my students the following list, as well as the list of common grammar mistakes I posted today, and have them own their own writing errors by choosing the three most common grammar mistakes and three most common writing errors they feel they have. I'll ask them to revise those six mistakes in the latest essay they wrote and look out for them, proofreading for those errors specifically, in the next assignment they have in my class. Using the grammar and writing section on the school's wiki, students will also be able to access PowerPoints on grammar problems that I've found on the internet as well as other helpful grammar websites I've linked to the wiki. 

I'm toying with having the students write about their progress in writing. I've had one class this year do some writing about their revision process and am wondering if students improve their writing by writing about writing. I like the skills such an assignment develops: students get another opportunity to write in English class, students have to focus on closely on grammar and grapple with it in a way that's concrete and relevant, and students are engaged in meta-cognitive thinking. The added benefit with this assignment is that it is also personalized; students are writing about their own grammar demons. 

As the year progresses, I'll add additional and more complex grammar and writing concepts for those students who are ready for them. Everyone can advance at his/her own pace. 

Mrs. Wiener’s Writing Tips

Topic sentences and transitional words: Each paragraph should have a clear topic sentence, and topic sentences in paragraphs in the essay body should have transitional words. Transitional words should also be used to move from one idea to the next within paragraphs.

Paragraph length: Paragraphs should be a consistent length throughout an essay and should be 5-8 sentences.

Point of view: Stay in third-person point of view throughout a formal essay. Don’t use you in a formal essay.

Punctuation of citations and quotations: Look up MLA style for these. Make sure you begin all quotations with a dialogue tag. Here is one of my favorite sites for writing and for proper MLA citation:

Simplify: Don’t bog yourself down in words. Make sure your thesis, the arguments you use to back it up and the specific details from the text you’re using in your arguments are all explained clearly. Worry about improving vocabulary once you know you’ve made your points clearly and have enough proof from the text.

Usage of terms: Are you using terms correctly? Check with me to make sure.

Identify characters and establish context: Make sure you treat your reader with courtesy and introduce characters when you first mention them, explaining who they are and how they fit into the work. Also be sure to explain the background of the story, otherwise known as the context. Treat your reader as if he/she hasn’t read the work you’re discussing in your essay. Ask yourself what details need to be included to give your reader an accurate understanding of the point you want to prove.

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