How are your students doing with writing in Spanish class? Are they learning the new vocabulary related to the unit, some new grammar structures, and then writing what sounds like a preschooler’s story? And do they all sound the same???
I have this problem too! And here is what I do to help my students move out of the novice range and away from the generic writing into something more sophisticated and interesting!
Show a Model of Good Writing in Spanish Class
One of the first ways we can help students move from where they are to where we want them to be is to show them 2 (or more!) examples of writing. I usually make these up on my own, or I use writing samples from students from other classes- without their name! I offer a writing sample that is basic, and a writing sample that is wonderful! And then as a class, we analyze what the great sample has that the basic writing is missing.
Students find it really easy to spot what makes good writing in Spanish class, even when they may not be producing it yet. Showing some contrasting examples really helps them have a concrete idea about what good writing should contain.
HERE is a free worksheet that you can use or modify for the “look-fors” in a good writing sample!
Provide Scaffolding to Improve Writing
When my students are working their way through a thematic unit, they know they should use the grammar and vocab that we are focused on. But I also give them another goal or challenge. I always start with my handout called “Words That Add Sophistication“. It’s my Freebie on Teachers Pay Teachers and I hope you’ll go there and download it! It’s working so well in my classes!
This list is broken up into 3 sections:
Transition Words (también, aunque)
Sequencing Words (entonces, luego)
Time Frame Words (ayer, mañana)
It’s a big list, so I try to give them a specific challenge. For example, I might say, “Your writing must contain at least 3 different sequencing words”, or as we move through the year, “Your writing should include at least 2 words from each section”.
I emphasize that no one has to memorize ALL of the words on the list, but they should have a goal of memorizing a few from each category during each unit. By the end of the year, they will have a lot of “sophistication words” that will help them improve both writing and speech!
Word Walls for Better Writing in Spanish
My last suggestion would be to create a word wall. I am trying it for the first time this year! (Perhaps I’m a little behind the times!) Having an area of the room where students can look and refer to words that are not quite memorized yet will allow them to incorporate a bigger variety of words into their writing, and the more times they use these words, the more likely they will memorize them! We want to build a rich vocabulary with our students so their writing in Spanish sounds great and is fun to read!
There are many Spanish Word Wall downloads on TpT. They are high frequency words of all kinds.