Being able to speak English fluently does not guarantee that a student will be able to use language effectively in academic settings. Fluency must be combined with higher order thinking skills to create an “academic language,” which allows students to effectively present their ideas in a way that others will take seriously. The author, an ELL teacher, describes her use of “protocols” (a cheat sheet of sentence starters) to build students’ cognitive academic language proficiency.
Because writing is thinking, the organization of students’ writing reflects both the structure of their thinking and the depth of their understanding. Students should be writing in all their classes, explaining what they know and how they know it. It’s essential for content-area teachers to give students meaningful analytical writing assignments. See An Introduction to Analytical Text Structures for more information and graphic organizers to help with writing instruction.
Writing enables students to process, organize, formulate, and
extend their thinking about what they have been learning. In addition, teachers can also assign writing to help students evaluate what they know and understand
about a topic. These writing-to-learn strategies help foster students’ abilities to make predictions, build connections, raise questions, discover new ideas, and promote higher-level thinking.
Building on their research in secondary classrooms, the Center on English Learning and Achievement has developed guidelines that describe six essential features of effective literacy instruction and how teachers can implement them.
Many students are used to writing narratives — stories, description, even poetry, but have little experience with analytical writing. This article is an introduction to six analytical text structures, useful across content areas. See also Analytical Writing in the Content Areas.
Students who don’t write well aren’t able to learn and communicate effectively. This article explains what good writing skills are and how to help struggling young writers gain those skills through proper instruction.