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Meaningful Prompts in Dialogue Journals with ESL Students

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by Jae Shin on 13 May 2011

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Transcript of Meaningful Prompts in Dialogue Journals with ESL Students

Meaningful Prompts in Dialogue Journals with ESL Students Presented by Jae Shin What is the question? How do I develop prompts that will evoke the “best response” from my adult English language learner students? My research question became more focused:

How is the differentiated feedback I am giving in the dialogue journals impacting the writing and writing attitudes of my ESL students? What is the significance? From my discussions with adult ESL students as an Instructional Assistant at a local San Diego community college, there is a need for…
More writing opportunities
More meaningful prompts
More interesting prompts
More personal writing assignments So I explored how I could utilize prompt surveys, feedback, and dialogue journals in a way that makes students feel more personal ownership and motivation to write journal responses that possess quality writing, more ideas, a voice, good organization, critical thinking, and proper use of grammar. Literature Review Definition

A dialogue journal is a written conversation between two people. In education, a dialogue journal is between a student and a teacher. Students can write as much as they want on whatever topic they choose. Teachers respond regularly and write back new topics or questions. Dialogue Journals are beneficial for ESL students

Dialogue journals support costructivist theory and contribute to the need for materials that are responsive to learners’ lives and work, literacy activities that are more complex and functional, therefore transforming literacy learning into a more dialogic process which enables learners to become empowered in the classroom (Peyton & Staton, 1991).

Dialogue journals allow teachers to provide essential one-on-one communication with their students, which aids in helping the ESL students to adjust to a new country and helping the teacher address and meet the literacy needs based on assessments of the ESL students (Peyton, 2000). Dialogue Journals provide authentic contexts

Dialogue Journals provide a meaningful way for ESLs to engage in using language and become a site of identity construction where students can negotiate meaning and knowledge in their personal contexts. Dialogue journals provide authentic contexts where students can write freely, share their culture, and learn about other cultures (Kim, 2005). Dialogue Journals via Email



A study suggests that email can be a valuable tool for dialogue journaling in a writing class because it appeals to some students, changes some students’ inappropriate writing habits, saves class time, reduces paperwork, and offers the opportunity to interact with other students and other people (Wang, 1996). Methodology Mixed-Methods Study

I used 4 surveys and conducted the dialogue journals via email.
Study was conducted over 8 weeks
I collected the data from the surveys and dialogue journals.
I used a 6 Trait Writing Rubric to assess the content of the dialogue journals.
I used a Critical Literacy Rubric based on critical literacy research to assess critical thinking(expression of personal reflection)
I triangulated data by comparing the word count, rubric scores, and results of the surveys to compare and assess each student. Participants Initially...
from a classroom of 30, only 7 students volunteered to participate All females with varying levels of proficiency, ages, cultural backgrounds, and reasons for learning English Only 5 participants completed both phases Phase 1 Gave prompt surveys and writing attitude surveys
Sent out prompts via email based on high ratings on prompt surveys
Gave positive feedback for all students except for one who requested constructive feedback in addition to the positive feedback
Assessed word count, critical thinking, and quality of writing for each participant Phase II Sent out prompts via email based on high ratings on prompt surveys
Gave specific, constructive feedback and positive feedback to all participants in hopes of improving writing
Assessed word count, critical thinking, and quality of writing for each participant
Gave dialogue journal surveys and post-writing attitude surveys at the end of 8 weeks Findings Introspective prompts(ex: tell me your life story) were rated higher than non-introspective prompts(what is your favorite food? why?) Based on the Writing Attitude Survey graph, the participants have varying degrees of confidence in their writing abilities. Looking at the averages of the 6 Traits Writing Rubric scores, it is clear that the averages of each trait were generally around 3 (developing level) and 4(emergent level) and the only trait below the developing level is the Conventions trait averages. Based on the critical literacy scores, it is evident that certain emails received higher scores than others.
The emails that receivedhigh scores of critical literacy were emails that had introspective prompts(ex: who is your role model? why?).
The emails that received low scores were emails with non-introspective prompts( ex: What is your favorite sport? why?) When looking at critical literacy, I found that there were no major changes in the scores of critical literacy in the emails compared to phase one The majority of participants expressed some degree of critical literacy in their emails, which corresponded to emails with introspective prompts It is evident that the averages of the scores of the 6 Traits Writing Rubric results show a consistent increase from email five to email eight.

the average of each of the six traits shows a distinct increase from email five to email eight.

the average scores of ideas & content, word choice, sentence fluency and conventions show an increase and then a plateau for the subsequent emails.

This suggests that the specific constructive feedback and dialogue journals did help improve the overall averages of the participants’ scores in each of the traits in the 6 Traits Writing Rubric. The results of the post writing attitude and dialogue journal surveys suggests an overall increase in positive attitudes toward writing and positive attitudes toward dialogue journals it is clear that all five students possess high levels of writing confidence, enjoyment, and positive attitudes toward writing and dialogue journals This suggests that the dialogue journals helped improve their writing. Implications Results of this research indicate that ESL students need multiple opportunities to practice and develop their writing skills and writing confidence in a positive learning environment. Being conscious of writing attitudes help shape effective writing activities such as dialogue journals. As a teacher, I struggled with wanting to provide as much specific constructive feedback without overwhelming my student and negatively impacting their writing comfort and confidence. This experience has made me more aware of my struggles as an educator and the need for differentiation for every student. Interventions:

#1
I provided the intervention of providing clarification for every dialogue journal prompt for every participant to meet the need for clarification and to provide modeling of what kind of answers I was looking for Phase 2 Methodology #2
I provided a balance of detailed, specific constructive feedback and positive feedback in hopes of improving writing Thanks for listening! What is the context? San Diego Community College



Adult ESOL students with different primary languages, different English proficiency levels, experiences, and purposes for learning English (i.e. academic and professional) By "best response" I mean writing responses that express critical thinking, details, good organization, and good grammar Writing Prompts Critical Literacy Findings Word Count Overall, word count decreased in phase 2 compared to phase 1

These findings suggest the dialogue journals and combination of positive and constructive feedback did not have an effect on word count.

When comparing the word count to the scores of the 6 Traits Writing Rubric, I found that there was no relationship between high word count and high scores on the 6 Traits Writing Rubric.

Also, when comparing the word count to the scores of critical literacy, I found no relationship between high word count and high scores of critical literacy.

These findings support my assumption that high levels of critical literacy and quality writing can be evident in a small amount of words. Overall findings I struggled with the dilemma of being in constant tension of wanting to help build the confidence of my participants and give constructive feedback to improve their writing.

I struggled with providing just enough specific, constructive feedback that made the writer aware of their errors but did not overwhelm or discourage them from writing freely. Critical Literacy Post-Writing Attitude Surveys Dialogue Journal Surveys & An example... Email 1 from participant 1 Email 8 from participant 1 there are more ideas and more details and less errors compared to email 1 there are short sentences, misuse of punctuation, convention errors, ans sentence fluency errors
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