When you teach seniors in high school, you have the chance to really direct them in a way that will mentally prepare them for college writing. Even if your students are not going to major in English in college, there will still be plenty of writing, and you can help them achieve great things in their future. Here are five ways to help your students prepare for the significant amount of writing they will do in college:
1. Assign research papers
Research is a major part of college writing, and if you can slowly introduce the concept of researching in your classroom, it can be very beneficial for your students. Introduce educational articles relating to whatever text your class is reading at the moment; whether it is Jane Eyre or Macbeth, there will be articles to discuss that provide both a deeper understanding of the novel and also a way into creating a research-based environment in the classroom. Assign a paper in which the students use these readings to talk about an essential part of the novel and direct them in the way to produce these kinds of papers. You might be interested in my Research Paper Unit.
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2. Teach close readings of texts
A close reading can be really beneficial in the classroom. Your students will select a passage that stands out to them, and it can stand out either because of the figurative language or the importance of the moment in the story. They will then analyze it thoroughly, in the way in which you describe to them, and take notes and then will write a short paper about their analysis. Close readings are essential to learn about in high school because college courses often will either assign them or use critical features of the narrowing in on one particular part of a text to help the students understand. If high schoolers see this format earlier in their schooling, in college, it will seem much less daunting.
3. Bring other subjects into the English classroom
Writing is not limited to the English classroom, and especially so in college. Students will also be writing in their science and history classes, and even in their more obscure college courses as well. It is vital for students to be well-versed in writing about topics not related to various novels or poems, but about subjects that are not related to literature. By letting your students choose a subject to write about in the classroom that is not literature based, they will grow in their writing skills and learn how to write about other subjects with your help and edits afterward.
4. Contrast different novels
Your students will learn how to think analytically by comparing and contrasting the novels, short stories, or poems your class reads. This is a skill that universities want students to know and understand how to use. Classes could require students to write about the contrasts of novels, but the skills learned from doing this exercise will benefit students in a number of ways in different classes. In your classroom, discuss the differences and similarities found in the texts, and have your students look for them themselves also.
5. Practice self-editing
Students need to learn how to self-edit if they want their papers currently, and in the future, to be the best they can be. This skill of editing themselves will significantly help them in college. They will write papers constantly in college, sometimes multiple at a time for different classes, so teaching them how to edit themselves in high school will help them to get through the enormous amount of writing they will be doing in college. You can teach students how to self-edit through showing them in class the steps to take in self-editing, and also by assigning worksheets that teach common mechanic mistakes or grammar errors.