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Syntactic skills help us understand how sentences work—the meanings behind word order, structure, and punctuation. Understanding syntax is one of the foundational skills for Reading Fluency and comprehension in the upper grades. Syntactic skills also help us to transform our ideas for writing into acceptable sentences that convey our intentions. Though Syntactic development begins in childhood, children in middle and high school develop greater syntactic knowledge, particularly as they develop Disciplinary Literacy.
Within multiple content disciplines, older students are required to comprehend and create more syntactically complex texts. Adolescents develop multiple components of Syntax including:
As students become more confident readers, they begin to read texts with correct intonation and expression. This ability is called prosody and is a way adolescent readers break down text into syntactic structures to aid in comprehension. Students with strong knowledge of Syntax tend to be able to express this in writing, particularly through correct punctuation, complex sentences, and transitions.
Physically acting out a text or enacting major themes from texts enhances reading comprehension, particularly as texts become more complex.
When adolescents can connect and communicate with authentic audiences about their interests and values, reading and writing become more personally meaningful and relevant.
Students practice making and finding meaning in texts through book discussions moderated by teachers to varying degrees.
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 preparing for and debating with peers, students analyze, form, and express verbal arguments, fostering their critical thinking and literacy skills.
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.
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.
Providing multiple texts on the same topic or theme allows students to interact with multiple perspectives and develop their critical thinking skills.
When students write from a non-dominant or marginalized perspective, they consider and give voice to points of view that are often missing.
Providing guiding prompts and questions for students to use when reading or participating in discussions deepens their understanding of texts and gives them space to question and grapple with issues of power, justice, and equity.
When teachers provide students with model texts for their writing, they learn to identify effective elements to incorporate into their own writing.
Reading aloud to adolescents models Reading Fluency as texts become more complex and disciplinary in nature and therefore, more difficult to understand.
Teachers can provide individualized support through one-on-one conferences to assess reading comprehension, understanding of content, and spark further interest in reading.
Having culturally relevant reading materials, including multicultural and diverse texts, are critical for supporting all students.
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.
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