For ages we have been trying to improve writing of our students. I have a good bunch of students in my class who are not able to string sentences together and this is what I have noticed about them.
1. Not knowing the purpose of writing
Not knowing why we write? When I asked my students why is it important to write? They said - To make sure that writing makes sense...etc. This is not the purpose. The purpose could be something like - to convey something that others might not know or to tell the story that is in our mind.
What can I do?
Clarify with my students why it is important to learn to write. They need to understand that writing is a skill that is necessary to lead a quality life. Just like being able to read and calculate problems is important for our daily lives, writing is too. I will try and create a passion for writing by hooking them on to something interesting, making it fun and not make it a tedious task.
2. Dearth of words to tell their story.
Children who do not share their ideas in class is not because they do not want to, or do not have any experiences to share. Most of the time they do not have the words to narrate their story. So they are often misjudged as the ones who do not know much.
What Can I do?
To start with, I will encourage them to talk even if they are speaking in grammatically incorrect sentences. I will praise them till they are confident to share what they have to say. I will not choose to correct them in the beginning, as they might feel judged and then withdraw.
I will also make sure that my program has space for concrete experiences that help make language comprehendible and not miss on the important role of teacher - student talk to support children's learning and language development.
3. Not having recycled new words in meaningful contexts.
If they have learnt new words in the past, then they most probably did not have enough opportunities to use those words several times till it was ingrained in their language so much so that it came out fluently when they choose to speak in different contexts.
What Can I do?
As a teacher of these students I will be making deliberate attempts to create opportunities for them to use their new words in meaningful contexts till they gain automaticity through practice and repetition. This means having to talk about things and situations in meaningful contexts. I will introduce new language when students have gained some key concepts through small group work, so that new language is readily comprehendible. If I choose to teach them new language straight away, it might become an overload.
So for the next few weeks I will be building on their existing understanding of language and to link old learning with new.