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Examples of Classroom Activities

In Generation 1.5 in College Composition: Teaching Academic Writing to U.S.-Educated Learners of ESL, in the chapter “Working with Generation 1.5: Pedagogical Principles and Practices,” Goen-Salter shares numerous activities that can be used in the Generation 1.5 college composition classroom. Here are just a few examples used in the text:

  • Learning About Students’ Backgrounds

Goen-Salter suggests developing a survey or an informal writing topic, to get to know the students background in language and culture (Roberge 237).

  • “Help Students Take an Active Role in Working on Grammar and Editing”

Goen-Salter refers to encouraging students to actively use editing (such as reading texts for grammar) and feedback as a part of their learning process (Roberge 250).

  • Allow Students to Self-Assess Their Writing

Goen-Salter introduces the idea of allowing students to develop their own “voice” in writing workshops: “Allowing students to have a voice and encouraging their participation not only helps them develop skills but also helps create a positive learning environment” (Roberge 258).

  • Talk out the Paper

Additionally, an original activity that builds on the oral communication strengths of Generation 1.5 students is a “speech to writing activity.” Students are asked to “speak” out their essays or other writing assignments after having researched a topic, or to do so without preparation if attempting to do this activity as a “free-write.” The directions to share with your students are as follows: Get a recording device and begin “talking out the paper”. There is no need for perfection, or perfect flow of ideas, or correct grammar. Just talk about the subject. Say everything and anything that you know. Talk as if you want to tell your friend about it, a family member, or any other person that you know. Speak naturally – forget about trying to use “big words”. Speak in any language or multiple languages that you like. The key here would be to try to:

A. Introduce the idea. What are we talking about? (Why?)

B. What I need you to know about the topic. (Maybe even why I need you to know it).

C. Talk about it some more- Is there anything else that I want to say? Does my idea or topic connect to other topics – at least to me?

D. Wrap it up. My conversation is ending. It’s time for me to go. But here’s what I hope that you’ve learned.

Adjust the directions according to the needs of your assignment. More information on resources for this type of activity and a technology called Audacity that may be used to help facilitate it are located here:

  • Lastly: Provide Extra Credit that is not Writing.

Admittedly, extra credit that is not writing may be best suited for instructors in courses that are not basic writing. After all the main focus of a basic writing course is and should be writing. But taking into account that universities are exploring new models of incorporating teaching basic writing in 101+ or other models that place the basic writing student into a more mainstream curriculum, versus segregating them out into specialized courses, this strategy may still be relevant. It may also be relevant simply as a morale booster – a brief diversion from the nuts and bolts of the writing process, and more importantly, a chance for students to expand themselves as an individuals and students– which will inevitably inform their writing. Also, extra credit that is not writing can still be very closely related to writing or the production or ideas, or the examining of various modes of writing and communication, etc. The sky is the limit here. Play to your student’s strengths and interests. The important thing is that you, as the instructor, know your objectives for your students. You can inform them of these objectives in advance of the extra credit assignment or provide the students with the criteria or delimitations of the assignment – and then work together as a class to show, step by step, principle by principle, how their recent excursion, or research , or attending a play, or the creation of a photo collection of graphic art in their town, or a Mash-up of a magazine, or the capturing of the storyline of a video game, etc. all relate to writing. Media texts should be viewed as “having legitimacy in academic curricula” (Ma’ayan 43).

Similarly this strategy instills and builds students’ confidence in themselves as students in general, and imparts an enthusiasm for learning across arenas and outside of the classroom- all while encouraging the students to face the important challenge of improving their writing. So, make writing relevant. Why is writing important to them as students? As consumers? As employees or business owners? As community members? Encourage students to do the difficult work necessary to improve writing while acknowledging that the students have other skills and strengths.

Strategies for helping Generation 1.5 students to improve their writing

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Page last modified on December 19, 2012, at 02:13 AM