About Ms. Jasztal Student Resources Educator Resources Affirmations This Is Science Creative Challenges Links Connect
[Go back to the main page]

Over the duration of the past few years, there has been a shift from general narrative and expository writing to text-based analyzations of sorts. Thinking about learning paraphrasing and citing strategies when I was growing up, I feel this kind of writing does prepare students well for College and Career Readiness. Here is the advice I have given my students, with much success:

  • Highlight or underline the most important information in your stimuli first. Be selective.
  • Based on how you underline or highlight your stimuli when you read, you can determine your three main ideas to begin organizing your thoughts quickly.
  • Feel courageous to be a little creative with your introduction. Make sure in your introduction, though, that you cite the articles and mention your three main ideas as well.
  • Strive for a fine balance. Do not overcite or undercite. Having 2-3 examples of quoted text evidence in each paragraph, along with extensions, is wonderful to strive for. Not every sentence needs to be an example of cited text evidence, and not having any examples at all (or even one example) per main idea paragraph is not the way to go, either. (I encourage you to go forth and star the most important quotations when you first read the stimuli.
  • Transitional words and phrases REALLY matter. Sentence variety helps your paper to flow well. If you start all your sentences with similar words, your paper will not have as much finesse-- or sophistication-- as it could.
  • Don't get too trite or conversational. You don't need random pointless questions like, "I know, right?" or "Are you still with me?" to connect with your reader. Those questions are unnecessary.
  • Rule of thumb-- Strive about 8-12 sentences per main idea paragraph. Remember, two or three of those sentences are likely examples of text evidence, and one sentence is an introduction to that paragraph. That means there are 4-8 sentences of elaboration, which is extremely important.
  • One more trite thing you do NOT need to do is... say things like, "That was my first main idea" or "Read on to find out what my next main idea is" or "That was my third paragraph". I think you understand the route I am taking here.
  • Your conclusions do not have to be long. Strive for maybe three sentences. It is not necessary to reiterate what your main ideas are, as long as your paragraph is focused on the main gist of your paper.

    Here are some of my compilations and resources for students:

  • Compilation: Paired Text Central: Here, find numerous paired texts that can help you to conduct close reading strategies, cite text evidence from each article, and write a savvy, incredible paper.
  • PDF: Citing Text Evidence
  • PDF: MDW: Million Dollar Words for Writing
  • PDF: Food and Hotel Words for Enhancing Descriptions
  • PDF: Using Punctuation to Make a Point

    Websites with articles geared toward students:

  • Dogonews
  • Newsela
  • PBS NewsHour Extra
  • Scholastic Science World (Need to have a teacher who subscribes.)
  • Science News for Students-- Society for Science
  • Smithsonian Tween Tribune: Articles can be adjusted to meet four different Lexile levels!
  • TIME for Kids
  • Wonderopolis

    Resources from Others: Writing Advice:

  • Citing Explicit Text Evidence (Warren County Schools)
  • Digital Pickers: Picking the Treasure from the Trash (Smore and Teaching Channel)
  • How to Write Paragraphs Using ACE(D) (SVSD.net)
  • Why We Cite Sources in Academic Papers (WLU.ca)

    Resources from Others: Citing Literature:

  • Citation Hunt Printable (Read-Write-Think)
  • Citation Hunt: EXAMPLE: Catching Fire (Read-Write-Think)

    Resources from Others: Citing Informational Text:

  • Citing Text Evidence Lesson from Scholastic (Includes accompanying article as well)

    Here are a few examples of my (fiction-based) writing:

  • Excerpt from my novel, The Anonymous, with a fun perspective writing challenge
  • Excerpt from my novel, Etola's Keeper

    (c) Ms. Jasztal, over the course of many years--2014-2019, and beyond.