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Textual Analysis and Improving Academic Writing

Written by Janelle Bence
July 24, 2011

Students engage in a quick write: Why is education important? This short piece helps to bring the students’ values to the forefront, helping them to stay focused on the academic context of this piece.

What is a declaration? Using the Declaration of Independence as a mentor text, students identify what the historical document says. What is the purpose of the document? Who is its audience? How does the structure support its purpose? What do you notice about the language of the piece? Are there devices used to help achieve the text’s purpose?

Declaration of Independence

Students annotated the text, pulling out responses to the questions. Finding several important points:

  • the declaration was about making changes
  • it was directed to King George III
  • they had tried to work within the system
  • they realized they needed to take action
  • the repetition of words helped the meaning and emphasized how important this message was
  • it was what many people wanted

 This close text study scaffolded the composing of Declarations of Education. Groups of students worked together to create documents that reflected their ideas of value, reform, and personal accountability. They used elements of language from the Declaration of Independence to persuade their audience that these changes were crucial. Here are excerpts from my students’ Declarations of Education.

declaration_2

We value education:

“We demand changes in order for us to succeed because education is the key to be successful in life. Also, education contributes to create a healthy society. A healthy society could mean both economically and educationally.  These aspects help the structure of society, to join a very healthy country.” (5th Period-Group 1)

“It is important  to understand that education is the base of who we are and how we are going to be. Moreover, it is essential because from education the best life, the best future, the best generation, and the best way to see life is born. Therefore, it is crucial because this is where dreams start to be clarified, creating advances in your mind to represent who you are.

“We think it is significant for us students because there are many things in life that you want to be and do, but to go through all of that, you need education. To us, education helps us experience things and gives you opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise know, and it helps you motivate yourself and others.” (3rd Period Group 1)

declaration_1

We want change:

“If we want to change the way they teach us and the way the teachers are, we also have to pay attention and not argue when they correct our mistakes. Maybe that’s why they react with a negative mood with us.” (3rd Period Group 2)

“We, the students from North Dallas High School, demand that the school does not waste our time with things that will not help us in life. We want to learn how life works not how fantasy works.” (5th Period Group 2)

declaration_3

We know we have a responsibility to make reform happen:

“If we want to change the way they teach us and the way the teachers are, we also have to pay attention and not argue when they correct our mistakes. Maybe that’s why they react with a negative mood with us.” (3rd Period Group 2)

“We, the students from North Dallas High School, demand that the school does not waste our time with things that will not help us in life. We want to learn how life works not how fantasy works.” (5th Period Group 2)

declaration_4

We use powerful language to persuade people to make these changes happen:

“For some students the problem are their parents. The education starts at home. The education from our parents is the base of everything. It is like a building where each day we add a piece of brick until the building is done. We have to notice  that we are just getting started, and a good beginning has a god end.” (5th Period-Group 1)

“To ensure that this Declaration of Education is realized, we have to fight, not with weapons but with ideas.” (3rd Period Group 1)

“We know that because we believe in us, we believe in our teachers, we believe in our dreams, we can make our dreams come true trying to do the best as a team, as a school, as a family.” (5th Period Group 3)

“Our future is what they are teaching us. It’s what they are telling us. It’s what they are showing us.” (5th Period Group 3)

declaration_5

 



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