Dr. Warren’s blogger articles on writing.

Word Collages and Wriggle Writing Make Writing Fun and Engaging

Bringing creative ideas and images into the writing process
can make class work and home work assignments fun and memorable for
students.  I love teaching my
students how to create word collages in the shape of an image.  In addition, I find that my students
love wriggle writing, too, which allows them to write their stories and poems in
a nonlinear fashion.

The Process of
Creating a Word Collage:
By Erica Warren Copyright 2013

Provide your students a theme, such as their favorite
animal, a friend, a self portrait, an event, a concept and so forth.  

Share with them that they will be creating a
word collage using phrases, sentences and/or words that they can type, write or cut
out of magazines.
Indicate that they can place their words,
phrases and sentences randomly, or they can organize them within a traced image
on a piece of poster board.  Then, show them some examples.
As an added option, students can be encouraged to add small
objects and designs.  

* The image to the right was done about the concept of learning.

The Process of
Creating Wriggle Writing:
Provide your students a topic, such as a description

By Erica Warren Copyright 2013

themselves, their favorite animal, a friend, an event, and so
forth.  This can be written as prose or as a poem.

Share with them that they will be taking a short
writing piece or poem and rewriting it on the outline of an image, on a
squiggle, inside a maze and so forth.
Share that they can trace an image or design on
a piece of poster board and then write their story or poem on the outside of
the image.  Then, show them some examples.

 * The image to the right illustrates wriggle writing on a squiggle.

Two Websites Make Word
Collages and Wriggle Writing a Breeze
If time is an issue, you can let your students use one of
these internet sites to help them create their word collage or wriggle writing
The online site, Tagxedo, makes wonderful word collages from
your own file, a website, a blog and more.  It allows you to pick a shape, the color combinations and it
will generate the image for you!  Your students can also get their creations placed on a T-shirts, mugs, bags and more. 
 * The image to the right one that I did about my dog Butter:
The online site, Festisite, allows you to paste your text
into a text box and it will create a PDF file of your written work into a
spiral, a heart, a wave pattern, or a maze. 
If you pull the PDF image into a word document you can then change the page background, and then take a screen shot to add color. 
 * The image to the right is one I did from a poem I wrote:
If you decide to use these fun methods, I would love to hear
your thoughts!
Cheers, Erica

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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DIY 5 Paragraph Essay Templates: A Creative, Metacognitive Tool

Although there is a common formula to writing a five paragraph
essay, students soon learn that each teacher has their own unique
preferences.  I can remember a
teacher that didn’t allow students to use the transition, “on the other hand,”
unless they had already used, “on the one hand.”  Some insist on transitional sentences, others do not.  Some want a student’s thesis statement
in the middle of the introduction, while others want it at the beginning or
even at the end.  As a result,
students have to adjust their writing to accommodate each new teacher.  How can this be done?
Help Your Students by
Reviewing Your Expectations: 
At the beginning of the school year it is important for each
teacher to share his or her expectations, preferences and requirements so that each
student can prepare for success from the very beginning.   
Provide a lesson and a handout that reviews the
5 paragraph essay.  Make sure to
discuss everything you want in your introduction, body paragraphs, and
Review and define important terms such as:
thesis statement
topic sentence
transitional words
transitional sentences
supporting details
quotes and examples
catchy opening
Introduce the idea that you will be asking the
students to make their own, creative, 5 paragraph essay template.  You can even turn it into a contest and
let the students vote on their favorite.
Help Your Students Create
Their Own Essay Template:
One of the best ways to help your budding writers is to ask
them to create their very own essay template.  This can be a fun assignment, and I have found that if my
students are apart of the creative process, they will most likely “get it” and
“use it.” 
Steps to Creating a
Clever and Creative Essay Template:
This activity can be done collaboratively with your students,
in small groups, or it can be given as a class or homework project so each
student can exercise their own ideas: 
        1.     Ask your students to come up with a fun and creative name for their templates.  Thinking up a catchy
title always helps to integrate the fun factor.
Encourage your students to bring color and images
into the project.
Explain to your students that they can choose their own
format.  Then make some suggestions and let the students brainstorm in small groups or
independently.  Some possible ideas
to get you started are:
Create a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation
Create a web, flow chart or diagram
Create an outline.
Write a poem, song or rap.
What are the Benefits
of Creating an Essay Template:
Develops metacognitive skills.
Permits students to be creative.
Helps to uncover misconceptions.  Always be sure to look closely at each
template to assure that each student integrates all the needed components.
Offers a tool or strategy that the students can
use through the school year.
Teaches an approach that students can use with
each new teacher that they encounter in the future.  Your students can always share their template and then make
any needed alterations.
I hope you found this idea helpful.  I would love to hear your thoughts.
Cheers, Erica

Show Don’t Tell: A Descriptive Writing Game

Descriptive writing enables the author to paint scenes and
characters in the mind’s eye of the reader.  Like an artist, carefully selected, colorful words can
convey vivid imagery, but only if the author learns to “show” and not “tell” the audience.  Learning how to use illustrative adjectives, action verbs, graphic adverbs, expressive
metaphors, vivid similes and showy personification is the key to writing engaging stories.  What’s more is it makes the process of writing a lot more fun!

Concrete learners or students that struggle with
visualization or language processing can find descriptive writing difficult to
learn.  They can also find the learning process boring and tedious.  As a result, I created a
game to help make descriptive writing both enjoyable and memorable.

Show Don’t Tell: A Fabulously Fun Descriptive Writing Game, by Dr. Erica Warren at Good Sensory Learning, will walk you
through the process.  You will be
amazed at the beautiful paragraphs that players of all ages will create. 
Copyright 2013
Come learn more by clicking here
Cheers, Erica
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.com  www.dyslexiamaterials.com and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

11 Steps to Writing an Outstanding College Essay

Wouldn’t you love to hear from a college admission’s counselor that they thought your college admissions essay was great?  Perhaps it was the deciding factor that
got you into your number one college. 
I have heard this story a number of times from my students, and I
wanted to share some strategies that can help you to also achieve this goal.
1: Take your
This is one of the most
important essays you will ever write, so give yourself the attention and
resources to make it one of your best compositions.
2: Allow others to
help you throughout the process. 
your thoughts, ideas and written work with your peers, parents, counselors, and
teachers for feedback and ideas.
3: Make sure that you
find the best college for you. 
students select a college based on reputation or peer influence, but reviewing the
college website and marketing materials as well as talking with their students,
admissions counselors and alumni is important to assure that it is the right place
for you! 
4: Make it clear that
you are the type of student that the college wants.
  Look back through their website and
marketing materials and note key words that resonate with you.  Next, write down any buzzwords that
reflect the qualities they are searching for in prospective students.  You may want to use some of these words
in your essay.
5: Read sample
college essays from books or online resources
. Make a list of ideas as you
read through the essays and start a list of what works and what doesn’t work.
6: Find a topic or
passion that will communicate your essence. 
Make sure that you select a subject that tells the
college about your strengths and unique qualities in a creative and engaging
7: Make sure you
enjoy writing about the topic you select
.  If you select a focus that excites and empowers you, this
energy is often reflected in your writing.
8: Find a creative
way to write your essay.
an imaginative strategy and tone is imperative. College counselors read
thousands of essays and you want yours to be unique and memorable. 
9: Write a catchy
opener and introduction.
  It is
extremely important that the beginning of your essay grabs the readers
attention and makes them want to learn more about you. 
10:  Make sure the introduction and body of
your essay addresses the question.
Many colleges ask prospective students to write an essay on a particular
topic or theme.  As you write, make
sure that you stay within the parameters of the question.
11: Edit, edit, did I
mention editing?  
the process, revise your work for content, mechanics, and spelling. 
If you would like more guidance and materials that will walk
you through the process, with checklists, forms, and detailed handouts consider
purchasing – Writing The College Essay Workshop.  
I hope you found this helpful!  If you have any questions or thoughts, please share them.
Cheers, Dr. Erica Warren
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.com  www.dyslexiamaterials.com and  www.learningtolearn.biz