Structured Writing II: Using Inspiration Software to Teach Essay Development

Structured Writing II: Using Inspiration Software to Teach Essay Development

Structured Writing II: Using Inspiration Software to Teach Essay Development

Structured Writing II: Using Inspiration Software to Teach Essay Development

Synopsis

Picks up where Structured Writing leaves off, turning paragraphs into complex essays.

Excerpt

Structured Writing is a process that teaches students how to write complete paragraphs using the computer. By combining effective writing instruction with the editing and text-to-speech features of current word processing programs, the Structured Writing process enhances student writing. The computer is a useful tool to teach writing for several reasons. First, the computer allows students to produce neatly printed, accurately spelled, readable text—a professional-looking product that raises self-esteem. Second, the ease with which students can make multiple edits eliminates the tedious and frustrating task of rewriting and revising by hand. Students are free to express themselves and use words they are not sure how to spell, knowing they will edit their writing at the next step. This freedom from tedious handwritten revisions also encourages more elaboration.

Compared with writing a sentence, writing a paragraph can be a daunting task for many students. Writing a paragraph is made more manageable when written sentence by sentence. The Structured Writing process focuses on writing a paragraph one sentence at a time so that students can focus on content and not get discouraged or sidetracked during the writing process. Planning, writing, editing, formatting, and publishing are emphasized as separate steps in the writing process. The teacher can observe the students during the various steps in the writing process, assess individual difficulties, and intervene with instruction immediately, enabling them to guide students efficiently through the difficult process of paragraph writing.

The Structured Writing process also provides students with the organizational help that makes writing effective paragraphs achievable. The color-coded outlines and organizers alert the students to the essential elements of paragraphs and communicate the teacher's expectations. Whether a student has a plethora of ideas to write about or is stifled by writer's block, the Structured Writing process has a place for every thought and element required. It provokes and cues ideas for students who are having difficulty figuring out what to write.

While my first book, Structured Writing (written in collaboration with Charles Haynes), explains an effective process of paragraph development using the computer, Structured Writing II expands that process to describe and explain methods for combining paragraphs into more complex expository essays and reports. Students, of course, must be able to produce structurally correct sentences before they can write effective paragraphs. In the same way, they need to be familiar with the process of writing complete and structurally sound paragraphs before they can successfully incorporate them into longer essays. I recommend using Structured Writing to teach and reinforce the writing process at the paragraph level for all students. The Paragraph Writing Requirements poster at the end of this chapter presents a list . . .

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