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Berkeley ELL Writing


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Title: Berkeley ELL Writing

Berkeley ELL Writing
  • Power Writing and Four Square Strategies

Writing and the Common Core
  • Review the writing standards for your grade
  • With a partner discuss the challenges these
    standards present for your students.

Writing Research
  • Only 24 of 8th and 12th graders perform at the
    proficient level in writing, and 3 at the
    advanced level. (NAEP 2011)
  • College instructors estimate that 50 of high
    school graduates are not prepared for
    college-level writing. (Achieve 2005)
  • Minnesota seniors submitted writing to college
    professors. Over 95 of writing was narrative
    and 97 not deemed college ready!

National Commission On Writing
  • Time The amount of time students spend on
    writing should be at least doubled.
  • Writing Across the Curriculum Because of the
    near total neglect of writing outside of English
    departments teachers of history, science, art,
    P.E., social studies, etc. should encourage
    students to write more.
  • Assignments More out of school time devoted to
    writing. Students should write every day and
    teachers provide regular and timely feedback.

Considerations for ELL Students
  • Create many opportunities for students to engage
    in rich, purposeful reading and discussion of the
    topic before writing.
  • Use mentor texts for examples of structure and
  • Gradual release of responsibility
  • Anchor charts with examples, sentence lead ins,
    key words.

I. Four Square Writing Method

Four Square
  • The Four Square is an organizer that combines the
    best of the outline, web, semantic map and other
    writing approaches (e.g. hamburger).
  • Teachers can use it for instructional purposes
    from writing with pictures to producing
    multi-sentence paragraphs.

Four Square in Primary Grades
  • The teacher demonstrates with a topic and
    pictures that relate to the topic. Ask students
    to talk about how the pictures fit the topic.
  • The teacher selects a topic and allows students
    to draw pictures in each box that fit the given
    topic allowing many opportunities for students to
    talk about their drawings.
  • Students or teachers select a topic, draw, and
    begin to write words, sentences or invented
    writing about the topic

Four Square Sophistication
  1. Students write a concluding thought about their
    four squares.
  2. Students write opening topic sentence, list
    details in each box, and write a phrase of topic
    for each box.
  3. Students support thoughts with three details in
    each square and write a conclusion.
  4. Students construct a five paragraph essay with a
    topic sentence/theme three paragraphs of support
    and a concluding paragraph.

Four Square Facilitation
  • Model at each stage
  • Provide mentor texts already completed
  • Post charts with transition words to begin
  • Choose subjects and topics that the students know

II. Power Writing for Fluency
  • Why do students lack writing fluency?
  • They have too few opportunities to write
  • They fear that what they write may be judged
  • They lack a metacognitive awareness of how to

What is writing fluency?
  • Writing fluency is not simply getting lots of
    words down on paper as fast as one can, anymore
    than reading is merely decoding text quickly.
    Writing fluency means quickly creating a cohesive
    message. As students develop writing fluency,
    their word choice and phrasing should become more
    sophisticated adding expression and depth to
    their writing.

Power Writing Defined
  • Power writing is a timed activity that requires
    students to write as many words as they can on a
    topic in a given amount of time.

Power Writing Advantages
  • Stamina
  • Confidence
  • Students create a cohesive message, as word
    choice and phrasing become more sophisticated
    adding expression and depth to writing.

Where to begin?
  • Pre-selected topics
  • Informational text from the curriculum in
    language arts, social studies, or science
  • Topics of interest to all students in the group
  • Student suggestions for writing

Power Writing Teacher Script
  • Write as much as you can, as well as you can

Power Writing Gradual Release
  • Teacher modeling
  • e.g. write as much as you can as well as you can
    about your favorite part of the morning
  • Student Practice
  • Group practice with teacher assistance or
    collaborative groups/work stations.
  • Individual Practice
  • Students on their own.

Lets Practice!
  • Write as much as you can, as well as you can,
    about a goal you have for your students or class
    this year.

Reflection on writing
  • What do you notice?
  • What were you surprised by?
  • What would it take to get better?

Collaborative Group Work
  • Groups select topics from pre-selected envelopes.
    One person selects topics and is the timer
    other students write and graph results. (Can be
    table work or work stations)
  • Teacher works with those students needing more

What.So What?
  • What implications might power writing have for
    your group?

Formative Assessment
  • Remember it is not about writing as many words as
    you can. It is about easily getting your
    meaningful ideas down in writing.

Four Square and Power Writing
  • With your neighbor share when you might or should
    use Power Writing or Four Square with your

Four Square Uses
  • Science vocabulary
  • High frequency words
  • Reading Street prompts
  • Writing center
  • Content review
  • Research projects
  • Author studies
  • Whole group add details

Power Writing Uses
  • Exit slip check on content
  • Journals
  • Reading responses
  • Center
  • Confidence building/goal setting
  • Progress Monitoring
  • Grammar conventions
  • Extended writing pieces
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Peer conversations