Infusing Technology into your Writing Assignments

You'll find that I may talk a lot about technology in a lot of my posts. If you already know me, then you'll know that I'm a strong advocate of flipping classrooms. I can go on and on to talk about the different aspects, pros and cons to technology in classrooms but for now I wanted to share with you two super, simple ways I added a digital component to my recent writing resources. I personally find these to be easy and engaging all at the same time. These two would be QR codes and digital worksheets.

Let me give you an example of how I incorporated these two methods into my Research Paper UnitQR Codes are my latest obsession! I don't know if this is just me, but there's so much interaction that gets added into the lesson when you incorporate QR codes. In this lesson, I created graphic organizers that they can access by scanning the codes. The 3 organizers: 1) Brainstorm Ideas, 2) Thesis Maker, and 3) Paraphrasing Notes work well digitally because the students can use it when it's time for them to draft their papers. Since it's already saved digitally, it makes it easier for the students to copy and paste the information directly to their papers. I know this is something I've always done personally in college, which is why I'm sure it would make things a lot easier for students as well!

Another example, I also have a Digital MLA Format Guide that includes a citation maker where students can input information about their sources in an organizer that is in the correct MLA order. With this, students can search for sources online, copy and paste the reference information into these organizers and have it basically ready to go when they are creating their works cited pages. 

One last fun fact! You all know that Snapchat is a QR reader, right?! I love being able to use apps and other savvy tools that students already use on a daily basis. It's the perfect way to get the students engaged. Next time, try having students use Snapchat to scan those QR codes!

As an ELL teacher, it could get pretty tricky trying to decipher what exactly your students are saying in their emails. A lot of times, things get misinterpreted due to the language barrier. Not only do ELL students struggle with the skill of email writing, believe it or not - mainstream students have the same struggle when it comes to crafting a professional email. 

Emailing in a professional setting is probably a skill they'll need for the rest of their lives. The issue is that we don't take the time to teach our students the simple do's and don'ts of writing a decent email. 

Below is a break down of what I included in my "How to Write an Email" resource

Slide Presentation

The 5 presentation slides go through an example of a poorly written email vs. a well-written email. A handout is included that summarizes everything learned from the presentation. 

(1) Key Elements to Email Writing

I included a general template that is divided to three parts: Greeting, Reasons, and Closing. Then, I made a list of commonly used phrases pertaining to those three parts. Most likely the students will see those phrases and grasp the basic idea of what kind of expressions would be appropriate according to each situation. 

(2) ELL Component - Differentiated Version

A differentiated version of "Key Elements" is included for ELL students that includes more detailed explanations as to what each part consists of followed by a wider range of phrases and expressions they could choose from. 

(3) Real-Life Scenario Activities

Real-life scenarios are given where students need to construct an email based on the situation. I included 4 tasks: replying to a complaint, apologizing, informing, and requesting. The scenarios are based off of real life settings such as contacting a phone service company, corresponding with an employer, and replying to a professor and lastly a customer. 

Why not make this your very first writing lesson for the first week back to school? It's a great way to refresh students before they start another semester where they'll most likely need to write emails on the daily. Personally, I love that this is a versatile resource that can be used in an ESL setting but also as a review for mainstream students. Bellwork, tutoring, small groups, writing centers, substitute lesson - you name it! It's perfect for all the above. 

Make this a technology-infused lesson by using the paperless, digital version

Teaching Your Students The MLA Format

If you happened to have clicked on over here after browsing in my store, my goal was to provide you with some more insight on what this product is about. Let me go a little more in detail as to what's inside page by page! 

Page 1 In-Text Citations 

The first page is a checklist that covers citation rules. Four specific guidelines are mentioned about details such as where to place the name of the author, where to include the page number, and what to do when the author's name is not provided. After each guideline there's a green box, and in the green boxes I've included examples. What's perfect about these boxes of examples is that it serves as a reference guide for students for future use! 

Page 2 Direct Quotes

The second page is another checklist that covers how to make a direct quote. All the questions are "yes or no" questions and students should be able to answer yes to them all if there work is correct. This would be a great checklist to use when students are self-editing. After the checklist, again I included two examples in green boxes. One example shows how a short quote is formatted and the other shows how a long quote should be formatted.

Pages 3-5 Works Cited

The next 3 pages are geared towards explaining how to create citations for the Works Cited page. There are examples and guidelines for the following types of sources: online articles or online scholarly journals. Also I included instructions to citing from You Tube videos or Twitter as these are also becoming common sources these days. I also provided  instructions on how to cite books with one author and books with more than one author, and lastly citing from magazines or newspapers. All the format examples are color-coded to make it easier for students to go back and look at. It's always accessible for them anytime. This is something I would use  if I were a student pretty frequently especially because it can be used traditionally as a printed handout or digitally on a phone or electronic device. I personally would prefer the latter because you could always save it to your iPhone home screen and access it anytime you need it. I thought this feature would come in handy especially with our current high-tech students.

Pages 6-7 Citation Builders

My favorite part of this resource! Even though students may understand how a citation is formatted it can still get tricky for them once it's their turn to make a Works Cited page. The Citation builders work as a template for students to fill in their source information. The plus side is that it shows the correct MLA order already with the correct punctuation as well! These pages specifically work as a way for students to have all their information in one spot to access later when they're ready to create their Works Cited page.

Hope this post gave you better insight on what it all entails! You can get the first page for free right now at my store! And for those who want to stick to the traditional version, you could also purchase that separately. Go take a look! 

Introducing The Writing Process to your Students

When it comes time for research papers, I never forget the look of anxiety in my students! If only they would understand that it's really fine as long as they take it one step at a time. It's almost like math or science...I'm not a math person so I may be totally off on this analogy, but like a long equation or formula you need to be familiarized with the steps that lead to the solution. Three strategies I always remember to use with my students are first visualizing the steps with them, then breaking it down even further, and encouraging them to find extra support as they work through the whole process. 

1. Visualizing the Step-by-Step Process
Believe it or not, older students need visualization exercises too! As a mom to a preschooler, I always think to provide a visual to everything I'm telling him. For example, I point to an object..."This is the tool we use to fix this toy. You have to push this button to turn it on."

Funny thing is you can use the same concept when working with your students no matter what age they are. Even in adult education (which is where most of my teaching background comes from) it's amazing how much progress I see when I give them something to visualize. With the writing process being so lengthy, I find it beneficial to show them that there are simple steps to it they can follow...yes, maybe quite a few but they are all feasible steps that can be taken one at a time. 

2. Break it Down! 
Each step has MORE steps that it can be broken down to. What I find helpful is giving them a timeline and making deadlines together with them. Based on the type of students you have, if you feel they need more guidance, don't hesitate to break it down EVEN MORE. Make even smaller steps. Micromanage. It's okay, they need it, and so do you in order to avoid the last minute procrastination, confusion, and chaos in your class! ;)

3. Finding a Support System.
My favorite step in the writing process is the editing and revising. Spend some time providing options for them to get more feedback and extra critique on their writing. What I love about this strategy is that it provides a support system for them as they work through the process that could seem pretty extensive at first. And again, micromanage! One thing you could do is provide a list of available options for help - tutoring, writing centers, academic coaches, peers etc. Perhaps spend a day or part of your lesson devoted to introducing these options. Maybe make it an interactive lesson where they can look up what options they have, and make sure that they know who, where, and how to get connected with these people. 

With that said, I find writing to be such a rewarding subject because of all it's mini projects and steps a long the way to create the grand, final piece! Help your students out this year - no more overwhelmed looks of anxiety coming from them...nor you! Ha. 

Summer Reading Resource!!! (Informational Texts for 3rd-5th)

During homeschool, I've been working on "seasons" with my toddler...soon-to-be preschooler *insert sad, emotional, hot mess mama face here*. I explained to him that summer is when the pool is open again. We were getting ready to go to the pool the other morning and he exclaimed pretty enthusiastically, "Mommy, is it summer time today?!" 

Yes! It is, indeed!

Not only do we love summer here in this household, but as a teacher I love how summer is a time my ELL students can get ahead a bit and prepare for the upcoming school year. Reading is something that is needed in so many areas in school. I wanted to make a product for them that can help them with comprehension and fluency. My newest Summer Informational Reading Pack has 8 summer-themed passages that range from 100-300 words. Following the reading, the comprehension questions are various tasks that cover CCSS skills for 3rd-5th grade such as inferring, making connections, and following different set of directions to explain and identify key details from the passage. I wanted to make the tasks for each passage a little different from each other so that students can get some good practice in on reading and following instructions.

The subjects I chose are all things I love about summer! It's always fun to watch my students intrigued about what they learn as they read since a lot of them aren't originally from the States!

And for a bonus in this pack - I included three graphic organizers that correspond to the passages. With these organizers, you can integrate a vocabulary building task to each lesson. Vocabulary is always a must-practice, must-build, must-review kind of skill during summer break. At least, in my book! No pun intended. :) 

The one in the photo below is my latest freebie! Come by my store and grab it while I have it up! I'm excited to use this on days where I want to focus in on JUST vocabulary. 

Come check this out at my store today, and I hope you can find this product as useful as I have. Happy teaching, and happy learning y'all! 
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