What Is It?
Writers need to learn that word choice, sentence structure, use of descriptive language, and other facets of writing help the reader better comprehend text. Through regular writing routines, writers learn the importance of editing and revision. As authors write, they learn new ways of gathering information, stating facts, explaining situations, and understanding the world about which they are writing. Simply put, writing helps us to learn. Eventually, writers begin to view their world more perceptively.
Implications for ELLs
Early on, English language learners (ELLs) need to write frequently and become accustomed to the idea that writing is an iterative process. With skillful teacher modeling and a sequence of manageable steps to follow, ELLs can use writing and reading as tools for thinking and learning. Effective teachers demonstrate how writers read their writing and get more ideas about what else to write. They model some of the questions that writers ask themselves to evaluate what they have written.
Strategies for Supporting ELLs
There are many ways that teachers can support students' reading, writing, and thinking skills. English language learners (ELLs) can learn how to write from sources (e.g., two different fire engine books), to conduct and write up research (e.g., stories from their grandparents, a survey of classmates' pets, or school staff members' favorite foods), and to write persuasively about their opinions (e.g., "I think football is better than baseball because..."). Effective teachers show students how to use graphic organizers such as timelines, Venn diagrams, semantic webs, and lists of pros and cons for decision making. Teachers demonstrate how they evaluate their own writing and prompt students to do the same.
To show students how to review their writing, teachers say things like:
Some teachers encourage ELLs to review their writing portfolios and to think and talk about what they have learned (e.g., Students make reflective comments such as, "I learned to use periods." "I use more capital letters now." "I didn't know how to spell school." "My daily journals were very short. It didn't have details."). ELLs are often amazed to see their own progress. Some teachers ask their students to select a paper from the portfolio to revise and edit once they have learned more.
Glimpse of the Classroom
Glacie is one of the more prolific writers in her second-grade classroom. She is also an avid reader. Through her reading, she has learned how books are designed and how authors sometimes include a dedication page. She has applied that knowledge to her latest project, a book she has written entitled The Day My Mom and Dad Took Me to the Beach. As she turns to the second page of her book, she beams from ear to ear. It's her dedication page. It reads, I dedicate this book to my mom and dad.
She turns the page and begins to read. Each page is vividly illustrated in bright colors.
I was excited that I was going to the beach.
Glacie has come to understand many things about the formatting of books; the logic of story; and the need for stories to have a beginning, middle, and end. Not only that, her story has voice. What makes this story so incredible is that for Glacie, a second-grade English as a second language (ESL) student, Portuguese was her primary language before she entered school.
Questions to Think About