As with any skill, learning to write well takes time. Though some students naturally have a higher aptitude in writing and language than others, no matter what your aptitude, a level of competence can be gained through hard work and practice. Here are some helpful tips to guide you through the prewriting, revision, and editing of your student's next writing project:
Unleash the power of prewriting!
If your student experiences writer's block when approaching a writing assignment, he's not alone. Because writing is such an intensely personal experience, it can be scary to put words on paper. The good news is that brainstorming and prewriting can help!
The Mindset: The first time your student writes down ideas for a project, it's important for him not to be critical of himself. This is a "judgment-free zone." Encourage your student to explore the topic and let his words flow. He will have time to be critical and make changes later. For now, no idea is a bad idea. The less critical a writer is at this point, the less writer's block he will feel.
Just Start Writing: There are many different brainstorming tools you can use. Different techniques work better for different students, so try several! Have your student write down his feelings about the assignment, write for ten minutes straight, or write down any images that come to mind.
When I brainstorm, I literally write everything that comes to my mind to see where it takes me. Later, I will go back to see what's worth keeping. The most important thing is that your student has begun and now has a place to start. Have your student take a break and let the writing rest and breathe. Then, have him come back to it later with fresh eyes.
Rein in those ideas with revision!
Now that your student has some ideas on paper, he can re-read the assignment and evaluate the ideas that are worth pursuing and developing. From here, he can begin writing a rough draft.
Once the rough draft is written, a helpful idea for revision ideas is to have your student read the draft out loud. Here are some other useful guidelines:
- • Make an extra copy of the draft. On your copy, highlight any sentences or ideas you do not fully understand. Try to listen and ask questions as if you have no knowledge of the topic and have your student explain the sentences and connections to you. Tell him that the reader will need these explanations also, so they should be included. With practice, your student will gradually learn to edit his own work.
• On your copy, highlight all areas where the student verbally "auto-corrects" what he has written. Often a student will realize a mistake when reading out loud and automatically fix it. This can be a great first step in teaching a student how to see his own mistakes and revise them.
Nurture your inner-word nerd!
You don't have to be a grammar guru to help your student write clearly. However, if you want to improve your English language skills and your student's, there are numerous resources you can consult. Review your lessons, find a good resource book or website, and keep adding to your repertoire of grammar tricks. The more you and your student can learn to manipulate words, the more exciting it will be!
Here are just a few recommended resources:
- • Don't forget to call 877-543-0148 to utilize Alpha Omega Academy's academic support and personalized assistance from AOA's qualified teachers. Students receive 60 minutes of free telephone support for each full-year course.
• Towson University Online Writing Support: This resource includes "self teaching units" with mini-quizzes your student can take.
• The Tongue Untied: This is an instructional online guide to grammar, punctuation, and style.
• Writers INC: A Student Handbook for Writing and Learning. This is a user-friendly text that guides students through the process of organizing, researching, and writing a paper.