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Writer's Workshop and the ESL Student

An Inquiry Project by Lauren Person

Lauren Person

on 3 September 2013

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Transcript of Writer's Workshop and the ESL Student

Student Samples
Observations and

Each day, students were engaged in focused instruction, discussion, writing, and sharing.
You may think ESL students can have a hard time writing. Language barriers can make it difficult for them to express themselves.
Sometimes it seems easier to
leave ESL children to learn the
basics, and not include them in
the process of learning to write.
I work in a school with approx. 35% ESL students. While I often see they are behind in reading and writing, I have also seen how quickly they acquire language. As a first grade teacher, I want to give them a strong foundation to build on later in reading, speaking, and writing.

The MTWP ISI provided me with a better foundation for Writer's Workshop and strengthened my skills as a writing teacher. I knew Writer's Workshop could help my ESL students. Now it was time to try it out and measure the results.
Writer's Workshop and
the ESL Student

My conjectures that ESL students would make greater gains were correct! ESL students gained more in both sentence conventions and word count.

Word count growth was 1000% for ESL students and 333% for Non ESL students. In April ESL students' average word count was 33 while Non ESL students' was 32.
By Lauren Person
According to research, ESL
students can be successful
writers. In fact, writing can provide a language "safe haven".
Providing the following can help:
an environment where students can focus on expression,
a balance of form and conventions,
authentic writing experiences,
being able to write in their native language if needed
An article from Princeton
researchers found the cerebral cortex of a six year old can acquire 10 new words per day!
My hypothesis was that ESL students would make equal or greater gains, compared to their English speaking classmates, when given instruction and access to writing through daily Writer's Workshop.
I took monthly samples of the students' writing, looking for gains in content, conventions, and volume. For the sake of sharing this data with others, I converted my observations into scores.

Based on these scores I could see which students were becoming better writers, and see their strengths and weaknesses.

Reviewing the data helped me plan my instruction to help all students make the maximum gains.
Non ESL Students
Topic Idea
0 or 1
1- non invented 2- invented
Sentence Conventions
+1 capital letter, +1 spaces, +1 punctuation
Word Count
ESL Students
Topic Idea
0 or 1
1- non-invented 2-invented 3- correct
Sentence Conventions
+1 capital letters, +1 spaces, +1 punctuation
Word Count
Stayed at 1 throughout
Stayed at 2 throughout samples.
Increased from 1 to 2. Students started by using capital letters. Now they use capital letters and spaces between words.
Students gained from 6 words to 26 words on average.
The highest month's average was 32.
Stayed at 1 throughout samples on average. First writings from 2 students received a 0.
Students increased from 1 to 2 throughout samples.
Students increased from 0 to 2. Students now consistently use capital letters and spaces between words.
Students increased from 2 words to 22 words on average.
The highest month's average was 33.
Next Steps:
Students need more one-on-one conferencing.
They also need more focused instruction on punctuation.

Based on the data I have collected, I believe continuing the practice of including all students in daily Writer's Workshop is paramount.
Research Used
Balancing Content and Form in the Writer's Workshop

by Julie Ann Hageman
Using What We Know about Language and Literacy Development for ESL Students in the Mainstream Classroom

by Susan Watts-Taffe and Diane M. Truscott
Write On: Children Writing in ESL

by Sarah Huddleson
Your First Grader's Brain

by Hank Pellissier
What does Writer's Workshop look like?
Focused instruction on a skill or topic.
Teacher example
Student example
Mentor text
Lots of TALKING!!!!
Daily immersion in private writing time.
Editing work to ready it for publication.
ESL students' percent growth- 1000%
Non ESL students' growth- 333%
Full transcript