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Creating Good Writing Activities and Assignments

Working with ESL Students

Writing in the Disciplines


Tips For Writing in the Disciplines

  1. Give writing assignments that reflect the kind of writing done in that discipline. For example, students need to learn how to write a lab report for chemistry, a care plan for nursing, or a literature review for sociology.
  2. Point out the key characteristics when you introduce a particular genre of writing.
  3. Provide a sample of the form and help students to identify and analyze the key characteristics.
  4. Analyze models of the form and give students "Form Guidelines"
  5. Emphasize the analytic processes involved in the writing rather than merely imitate form.
  6. Give students practice opportunities to write in the form.
  7. Find good professional models in professional journals, textbooks, the workplace, student-authored samples from the web, and student-authored samples from previous classes.
  8. Use class discussion or homework assignments as the forum for analysis of a model.
  9. Analyze models before students make attempts to write in that form.
  10. Have students write an outline of the model.
  11. Have students create a chart that represents the content for different parts of the model, e.g. purpose, necessary information, key components, format.
  12. Ask students to answer a list of homework questions about the model. This can be done as part of a reading assignment.
  13. Use student-authored models to demonstrate to students the possibilities for achievement.
  14. Summarize the key characteristics of the form, e.g. assumptions, methods, and structure.
  15. Create form guidelines for the students OR do a class activity in which students collaborate to create form guidelines.
  16. Review the guidelines and suggest tips for following the guidelines.
  17. Encourage students to use the guidelines as they write.
  18. Have he students submit the guidelines as a checklist with their draft.
  19. Use the guidelines to give direction to peer responses during peer review.
  20. Use well-written guidelines for instructor feedback on student drafts.