Writing programs that meet the diverse needs encountered by most teachers in classrooms where students have a wide range of skills and abilities. Over thirty skills are involved in writing including grammar, syntax, and spelling. Therefore, quality writing programs must employ strategies such as direct, explicit, and systematic instruction, emphasize the importance of prewriting, provide a respectful instructional environment, and utilize checklists and rubrics to assess writing.
The needs of struggling late adolescent writers vary greatly depending upon their prior knowledge, skills, motivation and writer identity. Teachers need to stress the importance, particularly in high school instruction, of the significance of writing beyond the classroom and emphasize the value of writing in success in college or in the workplace.
Writing is not just a method of communication and expression. Several researchers have found that as with reading, improving one’s writing skills improves one’s capacity to learn and the inability to write well greatly limits adolescents’ opportunities for education and future employment. Therefore, content area teachers who can contribute to improving the writing of struggling late adolescents should positively affect these students’ literacy levels for years to come.
In an effort to motivate my late adolescent emerging writers and readers to write for extended periods of time I have them explore controversial issues in bioethics using the SWOT analysis routine used in several industries. SWOT Analysis is a useful technique for understanding key Strengths and Weaknesses, as well as for identifying both the Opportunities and Threats faced in a particular situation or case study. In this lesson my students are faced with evaluating a real-world application of the aseptic technique and lab safety training they have received in our biotechnology workplace training.
NATIONAL BIOTECHNOLOGY STANDARD(S):
BT. 13.2 Write clear, coherent accounts of current scientific issues, including possible alternative interpretations of the data.
We begin this lesson with a pre-reading routine that I have named, Diagram Dialogue, which is sort of a structured way for students to annotate graphics, illustrations, and diagrams that we encounter often in biotechnology. We complete this routine as a whole group with students calling out what they notice and myself or a student charts or records the thoughts that are made visible during the discussion.
After the discussion, students create pairs and complete the Hochman Writing Strategy (Because/But/So) as a pre-writing routine in order to have support as they prepare for the timed writing at the end of this lesson.
Students are given 35 minutes to complete an Evidence Based Written Response (EBWR) based on a prompt which enables them to evaluate a real-life case study. In preparation for this extended timed writing, students engage in a group prewriting and brainstorming activity using the SWOT Case Study Notetaker to capture prominent points which surface during our class discussion. What resulted where great anchor posters that could be displayed to support students writing!