NJ ASK Writing Blanks.pdf

This includes a fabrication of the NJ ASK Direction Sheets, Writer's Checklist, Planning Pages, and Writing Pages. Use these to get students comfortable to the space they are given on test day. See below for tips on what to do with that Writer's Checklist.

Strong Titles

Essays with catchy titles are often scored higher than those without. Make sure your kids have a strategy for creating a good title. Decide which of these your students will have the most success with. Selecting four to teach is a good idea.
  • Use a Colon (Textbooks: A Love Story)
  • Alliteration (Textbooks are a Total Waste of Time)
  • Literary or Pop Culture Allusion (A Tale of Two Textbooks)
  • Ask a Question (Textbooks: What are they good for?)
  • A Possessive (A Principal's Decision)
  • A Memorable Line from the Story Itself (And the Next Thing I Knew...)


Strategies for Running Out of Time

Is a four paragraph essay that is complete with a conclusion better than a four paragraph essay that trails off at the end of the body and doesn't include a conclusion? YES! Give your students a strategy for what to do if they only have five minutes left! This is important for Explanatory writing, a task in which they will still be expected to write five paragraphs with only 30 minutes to do it.

Perhaps it would be useful to teach a technique for one minute remaining. Would these sentences work?
  • Persuasive: "I'm going to stop here, because I don't want to take up too much of your time, but really think about what I've said."
  • Explanatory: "If I had more time, I could explain how...but, just let me say that..."
  • Speculative: "The next thing I knew, I was back in bed that night, thinking about the day I just had."

Show students a piece of writing you've completed with the timer going. Explain the decisions you had to make so that you could finish all the way. Use this if you'd like.

Using the RIGHT figurative language

Students NEED to include a piece of figurative language in the opening paragraph. Review all past NJ ASK across grade levels and brainstorm ways to use figurative language in the introduction. For example, many writing tasks have students either create a character with a problem or address a problem through the Explanatory or Persuasive Task. How can they MEMORIZE a piece of figurative language to represent a problem?
  • This problem is a like a shadow that follows you everywhere.
    • Or, "This is a "shadow-that-follows-you-everywhere" type of problem.
  • This problem is like a noose around our necks.
    • Or, "This is a "noose-around-your-neck" type of problem.
  • You know, the problem of this lost book is like a splinter. It may seem small but it hurts a lot!

Memorizing "Money" Vocabulary

Most essay writing tasks will ask students to explain their thinking about a topic in three parts (even without those directions). Encouraging students to have "back pocket MONEY synonyms" for the following words may increase their chances of including these words somewhere in their essays.
  • Many (ie. "There are many reasons why..." )
    • There is a plethora of reasons...
    • There is a mulitude of reasons...
  • Think (ie. "Think about it...)
    • Ruminate on this...
    • Contemplate this...
    • I've been mulling this over...
    • I hope you take time to reflect on...
  • Good
    • Beneficial
  • Bad
    • Detrimental
  • Money Vocabulary for Smartboard (Mel Smith)

What to do with that "Writers Checklist"

Each year, students are given a Writer's Checklist that they pretty much ignore. We can train them to turn this Writer's Checklist over and use a "SECRET SPILL" which are all of the reminders of things they want to do in their writing that they may not remember to do otherwise. Examples:


Advanced Proficient Essay Transitions Chart.docx


Explanatory Prompts: Quotes and Universal Truths