Queens-Satellite Academy High School


Submitted by Peter C. Cherr

TITLE: Words, Words, Words

Words,Words, Words is an intensive, remedial English course for those

students needing either a refresher in, or an introduction to, the basics of the

writing process and the skills necessary to become good effective writers.

Writing is one of the most important skills that a student can develop. It can help

a student become an active learner, a clear thinker, a good communicator, and a

more effective and productive person. But unfortunately, for many people

learning to write well can be both daunting and intimidating. And, for a lot of

high school students today, the difficulty of this task has been exacerbated by the

fact that along the way they have missed, misunderstood, or forgotten many of

the basic skills necessary for good writing. Thus, the students have serious

gaps, or have developed bad habits, in their writing processes. Words, Words,

Words is a basic writing skills course designed specifically for such students. It

is intended for students who, although already in high school, need to learn the

basics of good writing for the first time. It is also for those students who have

been introduced to this material before but who seriously need a review if they

are to have a chance for success in their attempts to become good effective


Words, Words, Words will concentrate on the basics of

grammar, usage and mechanics. It will also explore the steps of the writing

process. However, since being a good writer is intertwined with so many other

skills, it will be necessary to do some work on reading technique, vocabulary

building, study skills, note taking, thinking, speaking, and listening. And,

through all of this, the goal of the course is for students to take ownership of their

own writing processes.

It should be noted that the pace of the course and the units covered

each time the course is taught will vary depending on the abilities, the experiences,

and the skill levels of the students enrolled. This is especially true since it is

ntended that there will be as much individualized work as possible.

With that in mind, Words, Words, Words will begin with a short

exploration of the students' previous writing experiences, as well as their hopes,

personal goals and fears about writing in general and for the course in particular.

This introductory unit will include discussion about why being a good writer is

important. We will also go into a brief history of the evolution of language and

writing. Students will also be introduced to the importance and use of a dictionary

and thesaurus.

While we are doing this introductory unit, students will be

composing their first lengthy piece of writing. Each student will be asked to write

on one of the following: One thing he would change about the school, one thing

he would change about himself, or one thing that is very important to him.

Students will be asked to do the best writing they possibly can on the subject they

choose.They will also be expected to hand in everything (drafts, notes,

attempts,etc) they did to get to their final drafts. The reason for this is that we will

use their writing to explore the steps of the writing process: Pre-writing, writing,

revising, and editing. Also, this first writing project will show the level of the

individual student's writing and give the starting point for individualized learning

thoughout the course.

Once students have handed in this first writing assignment, the class

will commence its review of the parts of speech, sentence structure, and grammar.

(As noted, the pace and extent of this review will depend on the students enrolled

in the class.) We will do lessons as a whole class, in small groupings, and

individually. Worksheets and lessons, at first, will come mainly from "Spotlight

on Literature: Grammar Minilessons" published by Macmillan/McGraw Hill and

"G.U.M.: Instruction and Practice for Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics"

published by Zaner-Bloser. As needed, additional exercizes and activities will be

pulled from a variety of standard grammar, usage and mechanics books from

other publishers. Students will also do a number of short, free writing

assignments to which they can apply their learning. (Hopefully, as the course

goes on, the students will suggest topics for some of these free writing

assignments.) After doing the free writing, students will go over their own

papers, they will go over some of each other's papers and the class as a will look

at student writing, sometimes in small groups and sometimes as a whole class.

There will also be some quizzes and/or tests on grammar and sentence structure.

We will follow the same procedures, using materials from the same

books, for basic usage and mechanics skills.

At some point during these units (again, depending on the students

enrolled and the pace at which they are progressing) the first extended piece of

writing the students did will be returned to them. Each student will edit and revise

this piece of writing, applying the skills we have explored so far. Students will do

constructive criticism on each other's papers, both individually and in small

groups. Each student will again revise the piece of writing, using the constructive

criticism. It is possible that at the end of the grammar, usage, and mechanics units

each student will revise this paper one last time.

At this point, using materials from the books "Writesource 2000",

"Writer's Inc.", and "All Write", all published by Great Source Education Group,

we will continue to explore, reinforce and refine the skills of the writing process.

Students will be asked to write on a wide variety of subjects. They will write

personal essays, such as giving advice to someone. They will write persuasive

essays, such as "Should the drinking age stay as 21?" They will also write

responses to other writing, including newspaper articles, editorials, poems such

as "Richard Cory", and short stories such as "Charles" by Shirley Jackson. With

all of these assignments students will look at each other's writing and help each

other one on one and in small groups. When students have finished final drafts I

will grade the papers according the criteria of what makes for good writing we

will have developed during the course. Also, throughout the course I will

continually meet with each student individually to help him with his specific

writing concerns and problems. Periodically, the class will get photocopies of

some volunteer's writing so that we can go over writing together and have

common writing learning experiences.

The course will end with each student taking one representative piece

of writing from the semester and rewriting it one last time to make it the best piece

of writing possible as well as writing one last brand new piece of writing. The

goal will be to compare these two pieces of writing to the very first piece of

writing so that we can see how far each student has come in improving since the

beginning of the course.


Alignment to Standards: This course corresponds to the following NY state and

city standards: