Structured Writing

This page contains resources and information for teachers to support their students in writing in the foreign language classroom.  Although most of the resources shared here are Latin-specific, they are largely based on resources created by/for Spanish and ESL teachers.

While many teachers use these resources to grade/assess students based on error correction, I do not do this. My CI-based approach is one in which I provide these resources as OPTIONS, and students are required to have the elements that are provided in the suppporting materials. However, if students prefer to include those elements in different ways, they still receive full credit.

FAQ’s :
Why so much structure? Can’t we just have kids write? Aren’t we getting in the way of their creativity?

Ideally, we would like to have kids simply pick up their pencils and write in the target language, at their level. As many teachers have experienced, some students are more able to do this than others. Often, it comes down to student background. Students who are exposed to academic language at home and/or benefit from tutors or “academic track” classes, have internalized the many steps required to “pick up a pencil and write.”

For kids who don’t have these benefits, the process of writing is very frustrating, and often they just sit and stare at the page. It is up to us to provide explicit steps that other kids have consciously or unconsciously internalized.

By presenting our “scaffolds” as optional support/required elements, we are allowing kids who don’t need this support, the freedom to “simply write,” although the elements we lay out will also serve to hold kids accountable who are accustomed to writing something that flows but is empty of content.  Meanwhile, the kids who need the structure don’t have to feel shame in using something that might otherwise be perceived as a crutch.

Scaffolds can be used at all levels of the writing process, from sentence frames with word bank, to paragraph organization. They provide the “mortar” for students to assemble the “bricks” which is the content of their writings.

Aren’t we just encouraging kids to “fill in the blanks” and not giving them writing independence and autonomy? There are no sentence frames in the real world.

These supports are called “scaffolds” because they are temporary, that is, meant to provide support and then be taken away when that support is no longer needed.  We are also encouraging