Free Writing Lessons and Resources at Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

Do you need information about grammatical rules or ideas about how to teach persuasive writing?  This site has free information and lesson plans for everything that your students need to know to be successful on Part I and II of the TASC Writing test.

Make sure to explore the Teacher and Tutor Resources.  If your objective is TASC readiness, I suggest looking up lessons and resources for the high and medium emphasis standards identified in the TASC Fact Sheet for Writing.

Note: Research tells us that grammar instruction is most effective when done in context and not in isolation.  In other words, doing grammar exercises that are unrelated to the topics you are teaching will not be very impactful.  I suggest that you adapt the activities and worksheets so that they are related to the content you are working on.

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About Shannon Allen

Shannon specializes in literacy instruction for struggling adolescent and adult learners. Shannon has worked in adult literacy since 2002 and with the LAC since 2006. She loves her work and this field!

One thought on “Free Writing Lessons and Resources at Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

  1. As I think about how to help students pass the writing skills test, I have been using this site as my go-to site more and more often. I like to use sentences as the center of my grammar instruction—what a sentence is and is not; how to combine sentences in various ways; what punctuation must be used when doing that combining. This site lends itself very well to that approach.

    The GHI TASC Writing skills test emphasizes sentence-combining; use of semi-colons, dashes and commas; parallel structure and active/passive voice. OWL has some excellent resources for sentence structure, comma and semi-colon use, and active/passive voice.

    Active/Passive Voice
    I found these resources very helpful. There are printer-friendly handouts with good visual highlights that not only give examples, but also explain when to use active and passive voice, and include a short primer on verb voice and mood, important for the TASC.

    Commas and Semi-Colons
    I thought the “Quick Guide to Commas” which is available on this site was a great handout for students. It clearly explains the basic rules but is not too overwhelming. There are also separate handouts on “Commas vs. Semi-Colons,” “and “Commas with Non-Essential Elements,” which I think are clear and helpful. The powerpoint called “Conquering the Comma” which is available on this site provides a very good explanation of different kinds of sentences (compound and complex, for example) and how to use commas correctly within each of these structures.

    Hyphens and Dashes
    This handout is clear and not overwhelming for students.

    Sentence Punctuation Patterns
    I am not sure I would use this handout with students as it is, but I might use parts of it. I like the way it shows how to rewrite the same basic sentence in a variety of ways – as a compound sentence, complex sentence, etc.—and the accompanying punctuation. One of the advantages of teaching grammar this way, in my view, is that there is a coherence around sentences—what a sentence is, how a basic sentence can be combined and added to—so that students aren’t just learning a lot of separate subtopics but relating it back to a central idea.

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