Application of Writing Skills and Knowledge for Praxis II ParaPro Test Prep Study Guide
The practice quiz for this study guide can be found at:
The last 12 questions on the writing section of the ParaPro Assessment will test your ability to apply writing skills and knowledge to the classroom. That may mean, for example, that you will be asked to show how you would aid students in their writing skills, such as choosing the proper word in a sentence. You may also be asked to show how you would help students organize, draft, and revise their essays in your role as a paraprofessional.
Other types of questions on the writing skills application section of the test may ask you to help students:
- Use reference materials
- Understand the purpose of a piece of writing
- Understand the importance of the audience of a piece of writing
- Use Reference Materials
You will likely see a question on your ParaPro Assessment that asks which reference material a student should use to locate specific information. Depending on what the student is looking for, the following reference materials could be used:
- An atlas is a book of maps. Students should use an atlas only when trying to find information about geography, such as the capital of California or the countries that share a border with Germany.
- A dictionary contains definitions of words. A student would only use a dictionary as a resource if he or she didn't know the meaning of a word.
- An encyclopedia contains a wealth of specific information about a subject, both general and specific. For example, an encyclopedia will tell you about Canada, or about where and when a specific person was born.
- A newspaper provides up-to-date information about a topic, including current events or issues. Old newspaper articles can also serve as a historical record of an event or issue.
- A magazine can also provide up-to-date information about a topic, but magazines tend to go into more detail than newspapers. Look at the name of the magazine or the title of the article to determine whether it suits the student's purpose.
- A textbook or a book on a specific topic can provide very in-depth information about a topic. For example, a student doing a report on England during the 1800s can turn to a textbook called Ninteenth Century Europe.
- A website can provide just about any information that can be found in any other resource. For example, some websites will contain general information or details about current events. Whether a website is helpful for the student's purpose depends on the type of website—and whether it is reputable. Students will have to determine whether the Internet site will provide a useful resource.
A piece of writing may serve many possible purposes. It is critical that students understand what a piece of writing is trying to achieve. As a result, students—and paraprofessionals—must be familiar with the following three major types of writing.
Some writing is intended to persuade the reader of something. This type of writing contains an argument and takes a position. For example, a student may write an essay about how the school year should end in April. He or she will attempt to make arguments and persuade the reader to agree with the main idea. A common place to find examples of persuasive writing is in the Opinion-Editorial section of a newspaper. Advertisements also contain persuasive writing; they are trying to convince the reader to buy the product!
Any piece of writing that contains instructions is an example of instructive writing. Its purpose is simply to tell the reader how to do something. A set of directions or a product manual is an example of instructive writing.
Descriptive writing, as its name implies, is full of descriptions. These descriptions can tell a story and have a great amount of detail. A poem may be an example of descriptive writing. Unlike instructive or persuasive writing, descriptive writing has no motive other than to tell a story. It does not attempt to convince the reader of something or tell the reader how to do a task.
Effective writing pays close attention to its audience. Good writers consider their readers: Who are they? What do they know about the subject? What preconceived notions do they have? What will hold their attention?
A student should consider the audience to help make key writing decisions about the level of formality and detail. The level of formality determines whether the student will use slang, an informal tone, technical jargon, or formal language in his or her writing. If a student is writing for a general audience and not for friends or family, for example, the readers may not be familiar with the student's background or experiences. Therefore, in those cases, students should be sure to provide their readers with adequate context.
Aspects of the Writing Process
As classroom educators, paraprofessionals are responsible for helping students develop into strong writers. That involves explaining the steps necessary to build a well-structured essay. The following steps show how a student can create an essay involving a thesis, or a main idea with an argument.
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