Have you heard of copy-work? Usually copy-work is something that is mostly done in the lower grades to practice hand writing. However, in recent years many home school moms have caught onto the idea that copy-work can actually help to improve writing.
I had the opportunity to attend training for AP Language last semester and my teacher mentioned that she used copy-work a few times each week to help improve sentence structure. As a teacher of ELL’s sentence structure is one of the hardest things to teach. Many of my student’s essays turn out choppier and short rather than fluid. So I decided to give copy-work a try.
I am now a firm believer in the helpfulness of copy work. My students’ writing has greatly improved. A few months ago I admit I was skeptical about it, but now I am amazed at the changes I am seeing in my students. By “copying the masters” my students are able to understand how to vary sentences almost as if by osmosis.
How I Implement Copy-work
According to my AP instructor there is a magical time limit to set for students to work. The magical number is 15 minutes – no more and no less. I have my student’s complete copy-work three times a week for 15 minutes each time.
I usually have them copy paragraphs from what we are reading or parts of famous essays. These are easy to find online. One website I use is Classical Essays on about.com – it offers links to several essays by famous authors.
It sounds easy and it is. My students seem to enjoy it and I enjoy seeing the improvement in their writing.