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Composition is the expression of ideas through writing. This skill is dependent on Foundational Writing Skills, which include spelling and knowledge of basic writing conventions. Composition requires students to set goals for their writing and make constant decisions to meet specific writing task requirements. These decisions become more refined for older writers, and include those regarding content and structure. Adolescents move beyond simply stating ideas in writing, and now are able to craft their writing for specific audiences and purposes.
When adolescents write in the content areas, the process becomes more specific to different disciplinary tasks and aids in cementing their understanding of new information. Adolescents are increasingly able to develop plans and goals for their writing to meet a particular intention. During the writing process, adolescents may begin to write more creatively and include more personal style and tone in their writing, particularly in narrative tasks.
Planning for the writing process becomes more important during this phase of development, as adolescents are increasingly required to produce longer pieces of writing. These pieces span the content areas and may include composition of original research papers and writing across a variety of genres. These genres include:
Narrative writing tells a story, and includes a setting, main character(s), initiating event, internal plan, attempts to carry out the plan, outcome, and reaction of character(s). This includes writing personal essays.
Expository writing provides information with the goal of educating the reader. Some forms of expository writing include:
Physically acting out a text or enacting major themes from texts enhances reading comprehension, particularly as texts become more complex.
When annotating, students engage deeply with a text and make their thinking visible while reading.
When adolescents can connect and communicate with authentic audiences about their interests and values, reading and writing become more personally meaningful and relevant.
Checklists and rubrics help students understand expectations as they navigate more complex tasks and assignments.
When peers are able to work together to plan, draft, edit, and revise during the Composition process, their writing quality improves.
For adolescent learners, the Composition process can become more robust, as learners begin to express ideas through multiple media, which includes visual, audio, and digital production.
When students express information visually, they are activating more cognitive processes while problem solving and increasing their experience with alternate texts.
When preparing for and debating with peers, students analyze, form, and express verbal arguments, fostering their critical thinking and literacy skills.
Explicitly teaching strategies for planning, writing, and revising texts improves students' writing quality.
Interpreting and composing discipline-specific texts requires tailoring literacy strategies, like annotating or asking questions, to the disciplinary goals and practices.
Increasing how much and how frequently students write improves both their writing quality and content knowledge.
Providing constructive feedback supports students' writing development by letting them know how to improve their writing.
As students move through multimodal stations pertaining to a particular unit, the social and physical nature of the activity supports deeper understanding.
Setting overall goals with actionable steps for achievement can help students feel more confident in their skills and abilities.
Visualizing how ideas fit together helps students construct meaning and strengthens their recall.
During guided inquiry, teachers foster student autonomy by designing lessons centered on meaningful questions in which students locate, analyze, and present relevant information on their own or in small groups.
Independent reading promotes literacy by emphasizing student choice with teacher support in selecting books, as well as setting the expectations that everyone is a reader.
Journaling allows students to reflect on their thinking and feelings, process their learning, and connect new information to what they know.
By observing, rereading, and closely analyzing published writing, students see examples and learn the strategies of good writing that they can integrate into their own Composition.
When students provide constructive feedback on each other's work, they learn to give relevant suggestions, receive specific ways to improve their writing, and engage in Metacognition.
Having students teach their knowledge, skills, and understanding to their classmates strengthens learning and increases Motivation.
When students write from a non-dominant or marginalized perspective, they consider and give voice to points of view that are often missing.
When teachers provide students with model texts for their writing, they learn to identify effective elements to incorporate into their own writing.
When students explain to others, they deepen their understanding and gain confidence in their learning.
Student reflection on learning, particularly when done collaboratively, is critical for moving knowledge of content and strategies into Long-term Memory.
Having culturally relevant reading materials, including multicultural and diverse texts, are critical for supporting all students.
Providing access to a variety of multimodal texts that align with the interests of learners allows them to practice digital, information, and Critical Literacy.
When students monitor their comprehension, performance, and use of strategies when reading and writing, they build their Metacognition and actively participate in the reading process.
Sentence frames or stems provide language support for students' writing and participation in academic discussions.
Providing a story or concept map prior to lessons or having students create their own maps during or after reading helps learners identify and organize key elements of a text.
Bringing students' every day literacy practice of texting into the classroom provides regular, low-stakes practice communicating with authentic audiences.
Writing conferences allow students to fully immerse, share, reflect, and receive feedback during the writing process, promoting Motivation for continuing the sometimes lengthy revision process that occurs in the upper grades.
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