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Creating Student Writers


Beginning this year, high-school students who take the SAT I college entrance exam will find themselves facing a newly revised version of the old standby. The most significant change to the well known test designed to measure students' verbal and math skills and predict their ability to perform academically in college is the addition of a section requiring students to write a brief essay. This new SAT, in addition to the writing mandates of NCLB, make it more important than ever that teachers at all grade levels provide students with increased opportunities to practice and develop their writing skills.

The ideas and suggestions in the articles and lessons below will help you prepare your students for a future in which the ability to write clearly, correctly, and creatively is a highly regarded personal, academic, and career skill.

Learn More About Creating Student Writers

How to Write a Five-Paragraph Essay
One type of writing practice likely to prove helpful to students facing high-stakes writing tests is the five-paragraph essay. Discover step-by-step instructions for planning, outlining, and writing a five-paragraph essay that will help you help students successfully complete almost any type of writing assessment.

Study of Literary Characters 'Transforms' Student Writing
This "character transformation" activity motivates students to think critically and write with purpose as they develop characters in their writing. Included: A list of literary characters who experience or cause a transformation plus a Story Map work sheet to help students organize their thoughts before writing.

The Culminating Project: Students Put Together a Book of Their Best Writing
A yearlong writing effort leads up to the culminating project---the creation of a volume of the year's best work. Glori Chaika's students put a lot of time and thought into this effort, and it shows! Included: Complete instructions for developing and creating your own "Best of" collection.

Ten Tips for Young Writers
Elise Howard, editor-in-chief of Avon/Tempest Books for Teen Readers, offers ten tips for teen writers who want to be published. Write regularly, write about what you know, imitate writers you admire, don't be afraid of rejection... those tips and more from an experienced editor of fiction for young readers.

Encourage Student Writing -- Publish on the Web
Publishing student writing encourages reluctant writers, strengthens kids' self-confidence, rewards interest, and promotes a positive attitude toward literature. Education World writer Glori Chaika explores opportunities to publish student writing -- and teacher writing -- on the Web.

Student Essays Describe 'Perfect' School
Students in Sue Chanda's math class envision a perfect school with more technology, smaller teacher-student ratios, more electives, and a later starting time. Those are some of the comments Chanda's seventh graders wrote in persuasive essays that answered the question, "What would the perfect school be like?"

Reading and Writing at Home Improves Skills
A 1997 NCES study verified what most teachers and parents have always known: a distinct connection exists between recreational reading and writing and improved reading and writing skills. Students who read and write more at home do better on tests of reading and writing ability. Included: Activities to get students reading and writing at home.

Lesson Plans

Kids Can W.R.I.T.E. (Write, Revise, Inform, Think, and Edit) -- Activities for Every Grade
How do you help your students overcome their fear of the blank page? How can you make writing an exercise in personal expression, not drudgery? One key to better writing is better writing assignments -- and the Internet has them! Let's tour a few of the finest writing activities that the Web has to offer.

Every Day Activities: Language
Build vocabulary skills, spelling skills, literature awareness, thinking skills, and more at the Web sites below -- all perfect resources for combining fun with activities that reinforce needed skills on a daily basis. Make it a goal to work one of these Web sites into your lesson plans in the year ahead.

Make the Write Impression
The push to improve students' writing skills is on in schools across the United States. This week, Education World provides five lesson plans to support that effort. Included: Lessons that involve students in interviewing, editing, building vocabulary, and more. Plus story starters for all grades.

More Write Stuff
Engage students with writing activities that involve them in writing round-robin stories, "indescribably" excellent descriptions, persuasive alien essays, tabloid news stories, and books about younger students they interview. Included: Five additional writing lessons and all the resources you'll need to complete them.

Take Five: Writing a Color-Coded Paragraph
Students learn to write a paragraph that includes a topic sentence, three supporting sentences, and a closing. A traffic light serves as a tool as K-5 students write a simple, color-coded paragraph that has a beginning, middle, and end. Included: Examples of color-coded paragraphs.

When a Story Met a Sandwich
Students learn some fundamentals of effective writing as they participate in an activity that illustrates the importance of including all necessary elements in a piece of writing. This simple activity drives home to students the importance of writing a complete story that includes detail and substance.