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I have something to say using art to teach the writing of persuasive essays

  • Author(s): Rachlin, Clifford
  • et al.
Abstract

Writing is a critical skill for middle school students to achieve academically. Persuasive writing is an especially important genre at the middle and high school levels and is evaluated by the California Standards Test in middle school and the California High School Exit Exam in high school. State tests show that many students perform low on writing tasks, especially English Language Learners (ELLs). I Have Something to Say is a writing curriculum was designed to meet the needs of English Language Learners (ELLs). Research on culturally relevant curriculum, factor in student motivation, student voice in writing, scaffolding, and semiotic mediation provided a base for the curriculum's design. It was implemented in a two eighth grade classes of early intermediate to intermediate ELLs at a border school. I Have Something to Say is a curriculum which used Mexican murals to teach persuasive writing. Students read the murals as text and learn the elements of persuasive writing. They learned step-by-step and eventually used art as an organizer to write their own essays. Evaluation of the implementation involved the coding and analysis of field notes, student reflection, interviews, and work samples. This analysis showed that student engagement with material increased during the implementation. Students' choice of topics, sense of ownership, and originality of ideas demonstrated an increase in the sense of personal voice in writing for students. Student essays shower greater quantity of writing and higher quality in development of ideas and organization

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