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The Writing Process and English Language Learners. 2008 CIIDL Learning Institute. Welcome. Starr Lewis, Assistant to the Dean for Teacher Education Partnerships, University of Louisville Danna Morrison, Coordinator of Field Experiences, University of Louisville

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  • Starr Lewis, Assistant to the Dean for Teacher Education Partnerships, University of Louisville
  • Danna Morrison, Coordinator of Field Experiences, University of Louisville

Project Materials from Mary Morgan

Elementary ESL Instructional Coach

Jefferson County Public Schools

numbers to notice
Numbers to Notice
  • Five million plus English language learners (ELL) in American schools
  • Nationwide one in every ten students is an English Language Learner
  • 384+ different languages spoken
  • Sixty percent increase of ELL in recent years
  • Newly arrived immigrants from any of a hundred different countries
what do we know about these english language learners
What do we know about these English Language Learners?
  • Think about each of the following statements and decide if the statement is true or not.
  • Think about the justification for your answer; i.e., “Why do you think it is true/false?”
conceptions misconceptions
Conceptions & Misconceptions
  • Younger children learn 2nd language quickly and easily.
  • Children have acquired a second language once they can speak it.
  • The more time students spend in the mainstream, the quicker they learn the language.
  • Older generations of immigrants learned without all the special language programs that immigrant children receive today and they did just fine.
  • ELLs will acquire academic English faster if their parents speak English at home.

WIDA Consortium / CAL / Metritech

more myths misconceptions
More Myths & Misconceptions
  • Grammar is acquired naturally; it need not be taught.
  • The culture of students does not affect how long it takes them to acquire English. All students learn language the same way.
  • According to research, students in ESL-only programs with no schooling in their native language take 7-10 years to reach grade level norms.
  • Good teaching is good teaching.

WIDA Consortium / CAL / Metritech

building background
Building Background
  • Levels of Language Acquisition
  • Language Proficiency versus Academic Proficiency
  • English Language Proficiency Standards
  • Language Domains
the wida elp scale












The WIDA ELP Scale

WIDA Consortium / CAL / Metritech

language versus content
Language versus Content
  • Language proficiency involves the language associated with the content areas.
  • Academic achievement reflects the knowledge and skills associated with the content.
  • WIDA ELP standards focus on academic language; academic content standards focus on academic content.

WIDA Consortium / CAL / Metritech

Why are English language proficiency standards necessary?
  • To provide access for ELLs to academic achievement and educational equity
  • To provide a curriculum/assessment resource anchored in academic content standards
  • To establish a common yardstick to define and measure how ELLs acquire language across the domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing
  • To comply with federal law

WIDA Consortium / CAL / Metritech

There are 4 Language Domains

Listening- process, understand, interpret, and evaluate spoken language in a variety of situations

Speaking- engage in oral communication in a variety of situations for a variety of purposes and audiences

Reading-process, interpret, and evaluate written language, symbols, and text with understanding and fluency

Writing- engage in written communication in a variety of forms for a variety of purposes and audiences

WIDA Consortium / CAL / Metritech

criteria for performance definitions


Criteria for Performance Definitions






  • Linguistic Complexity: Extent of functional language (text or discourse)
  • Vocabulary Usage: Extent of comprehension and use of the technical vocabulary of the content areas
  • Language Control: Extent of comprehension and use of phonological, syntactic, and semantic structure & rules






WIDA Consortium / CAL / Metritech

linguistic complexity
Linguistic Complexity

Linguistic complexity refers to

  • the amount of discourse (oral or written),
  • the types and variety of grammatical structures,
  • the organization and cohesion of ideas and,
  • at the higher levels of language proficiency, the use of text structures in specific genres.

For example, expository essays often include the use of language to foreshadow, argue and summarize (Schleppegrell, 2004). As ELLs gain proficiency in English, their processing abilities and use of complex structures increase accordingly.

vocabulary usage
Vocabulary Usage

Vocabulary usage refers to

  • the development of the specialized language of academic discourse that is distinct from conversational language” (Francis, Rivera, Lesaux, & Rivera, 2006, p.7).
  • the change in vocabulary use from general language to specific language responding to a task.
language control
Language Control

Language control reflects the extent to which a communication is comprehensible.

  • Comprehensibility is measured by the number and types of errors committed in oral or written discourse that affect the meaning or intent of the message.
  • These errors involve lapses in fluency, grammatical usage, phonology (the sounds used by a particular language), and semantic choice (the selection of words to convey meaning).
a helpful resource
A Helpful Resource

Writing Sense

Integrated Reading and Writing Lessons for English Language Learners


By Juli Kendall & Outey Khuon

challenges for teachers of writing
Challenges for Teachers of Writing
  • Using a writer’s notebook with students
  • Choosing literature for mentor texts
  • Choosing mentor authors
  • Modeling using our own writing
  • Organizing and planning lessons
  • Helping students word first drafts
  • Teaching students to revise not just edit
  • Conferring with students
  • Finding ways to motivate publication
writing process is virtually the same for all writers
Writing Process is virtually the same for all writers
  • Prewriting
  • Drafting
  • Revising
  • Editing
  • Publishing
ellin keene s mosaic of thought
Ellin Keene’s Mosaic of Thought
  • Thinking Strategies Used by Proficient Learners
    • Determine what is important in the text
    • Inferring
    • Use prior knowledge to make connections (schema)
    • Asking questions
    • Monitoring meaning and comprehension
    • Fix-up strategies
    • Synthesizing information
    • Using sensory images
  • Thinking Strategies Used by Proficient Writers
determining what is important in text
Writers reveal their biases by emphasizing some elements over others.Determining What is Important in Text

Writers observe their world and record what they believe is significant.

Writers make decisions about the most important ideas to include in the pieces they write. They make decisions about the best genre and structure to communicate their ideas.

determining what is important in text24
Writers reveal their biases by emphasizing some elements over others.Determining What is Important in Text

Writers reveal their biases by emphasizing some elements over others.

Writers provide only essential detail to reveal the meaning and produce the effect desired.

Writers delete information irrelevant to their larger purpose.

drawing inferences
Drawing Inferences

Writers make decisions about content inclusions/exclusions and genre/text structure that permit or encourage inference on the part of the reader.

Writers carefully consider their audience in making decisions about what to describe explicitly and what to leave to the readers’ interpretation.

drawing inferences26
Drawing Inferences

Writers, particularly fiction and poetry writers, are aware of far more detail than they reveal in the text they compose. This encourages inferences such as drawing conclusions and making critical judgments, predictions, and connections to other texts and experiences possible for their readers.

using prior knowledge schema
Using Prior Knowledge-Schema

Writers frequently choose their own topics and write about subjects they care about.

Writers’ content comes from and builds on their experiences.

Writers think about and use what they know about genre, text structure, and conventions as they write.

using prior knowledge schema28
Using Prior Knowledge-Schema

Writers seek to better recognize and capitalize on their own voice for specific effects in their compositions.

Writers know when their schema for a topic or text format is inadequate, and they create the necessary background knowledge.

Writers use knowledge of their audience to make decisions about content inclusions/exclusions.

asking questions
Asking Questions

Writers compose in a way that causes readers to form questions as they read.

Writers monitor their progress by asking questions about their choices as they write.

asking questions30
Asking Questions

Writers ask questions of other writers in order to confirm their choices and make revisions.

Writers’ questions lead to revision in their own pieces and in the pieces to which they respond for other writers.

monitoring meaning and comprehension
Monitoring Meaning and Comprehension

Writers monitor during their composition process to ensure that their text makes sense for their intended audience at the word, sentence, and text level.

Writers read their work aloud to find and hear their voices.

Writers share their work so that others can help them monitor the clarity and impact of the work.

monitoring meaning and comprehension32
Monitoring Meaning and Comprehension

Writers pay attention to their style and purpose. They purposefully write with clarity and honesty. They strive to write boldly, simply, and concisely by keeping those standards alive in their minds during the writing process.

Writers pause to consider the impact of their work and make conscious decisions about when to turn a small piece into a larger project, when revisions are complete, or when to abandon a piece.

fix up strategies
Fix-Up Strategies

Writers revise (add, delete, and reorganize) and edit (apply correct conventions), continually seeking clarity and impact for the reader. They experiment with and make changes in overall meaning, content, wording, text organization, punctuation, and spelling.

Writers capitalize on their knowledge of writers’ tools (e.g., character, setting, conflict, them, plot structure, leads, style, etc.) to enhance their meaning.

synthesizing information
Synthesizing Information

Writers make global and focal plans for their writing before and during the drafting process. They use their knowledge of text elements, such as character, setting, conflict, sequence of events, and resolution, to create a structure for their writing.

Writers study other writers and draw conclusions about what makes good writing. They work to replicate the style of authors they find compelling.

Writers reveal themes in a way that suggests their importance to readers. Readers can create a cogent synthesis from well-written material.

using sensory images
Using Sensory Images

Writers consciously attempt to create strong images in their compositions using strategically placed detail.

Writers create impact through the use of strong nouns and verbs whenever possible.

Writers use images to explore their own ideas. They consciously study their mental images for directions in their pieces.

five best practices in writing for english language learners
Five Best Practices in Writing for English Language Learners
  • Include Language and Culture
  • Use Culturally Relevant Texts and Materials
  • Increase Comprehensible Input
  • Model Thinking Skills
  • Provide Opportunities to Work with a Partner, a Small Group, and/or Teacher

Writing Sense by Kendall & Khuon

making expectations meaningful
Making Expectations Meaningful
  • The Memoir Expectations
  • Sharing Models
  • Combination Notes (Marzano, SIOP Model)
  • Students analyze more models looking for elements of the memoir
building essential vocabulary
Building Essential Vocabulary
  • Revisit models looking for effective vocabulary
  • Use Prewriting to help students focus on essential vocabulary
    • Do this as a shared reading
  • Chart vocabulary words
  • Create Student Friendly Definitions
student friendly definitions
Student Friendly Definitions
  • Characterize the word and explain how it is regularly used
  • Describe the meaning of the word in everyday language. Include words like something, someone, or describes. These words assist students in attending to the whole definition.

Dr. Maria Elena Arguelles

not all definitions are the same
Not All Definitions are the Same

Traditional Dictionary


  • The quality of or state of being delicate; fineness, weakness, sensitivity, etc.
  • A choice food

Student-Friendly Definition

  • Something good to eat that is expensive or rare: Snails are considered a delicacy in France.
  • A careful and sensitive way of speaking or behaving so that you do not upset anyone (=tact): He carried out his duties with great delicacy and understanding.
review and revisit
Review and Revisit
  • We read all vocabulary charts as a shared reading
  • Some students asked for clarification on specific words
    • e.g. resourceful, honor
  • We then moved on to Prewrite Activity
    • Mustafa used trust and respect and checked SFD for meanings
    • Schell’s group added charitable-generous, and thoughtful
    • We review each student’s prewriting and conference
  • Marlen brought photos of her aunt to help with her prewriting!
  • Think-aloud and modeling
    • Writing for and with the students
    • Shared my Prewrite
    • Leading up to how the memories help us make choices
prewriting writing and revising
Prewriting, Writing, and Revising
  • Each day we look at the writing and plan our next steps
  • These students need help with spelling, revising, narrowing to one impression
  • Next steps…
  • Quick-Word Handbook for Everyday Writers
  • Caution: Some kids really do need help with spelling during the writing process, because they struggle with sight words and high-frequency words. Some kids just want to spell everything right. You decide who can use the handbook while drafting.
  • Revision Checklist (Writing Sense)

_______ I reread my writing aloud, listening to what I wrote.

_______ I asked myself, “Does it make sense?”

_______ I made changes that make it easier to understand my writing.

_______ I had my partner read my writing aloud to me. (Don’t let partners get hung up on spelling here.)

_______ I asked my partner, “Does it make sense?”

_______ My partner helped me make changes that make it easier to understand my writing.

  • Revision Checklist (Writing Sense)

_______ I reread my writing aloud, listening to what I wrote.

_______ I asked myself, “Does it make sense?”

_______ I made changes that make it easier to understand my writing.

_______ I had my partner read my writing aloud to me. (Don’t let partners get hung up on spelling here.)

_______ I asked my partner, “Does it make sense?”

_______ My partner helped me make changes that make it easier to understand my writing.

mentor authors
Mentor Authors
  • We started a chart because we saw a need for incorporating more description and rich language in the student writing.
  • “Mentor authors are an essential scaffold for English language learners. Carl Anderson reminds us, ‘When we are successful in showing students how to learn from writing mentors, we teach students how to teach themselves’ (2000, p. 110). Building independence into writing instruction is crucial to the long-term success of ELLs.” (Kendall & Khuon, p.53).
when to conference
When to Conference
  • After student has had a peer conference
  • During Prewriting!!!!
  • After a teacher has analyzed a piece of writing and needs clarification or finds a teaching point
  • After student has attempted a revision or editing skill
  • After completion of a meaningful chunk
  • I try to never conference COLD!
using a roadmap
Using a Roadmap
  • Start with the Purpose Statement and Reasons
  • Keep the audience in mind
  • Remember:
    • SHOW a model
    • BE the model
    • Let them try it, and always give feedback
contact information
Contact Information
  • Starr Lewis

[email protected]


  • Danna Morrison

[email protected]