CAHSEE Prep Writing Connection After the Wildfires
Writing is often a proactive way to express feelings and thoughts about events that
effect us. Recent workshops in Getting Ready for the CAHSEE prompted the following
ideas for review of the four writing types and also a way to help students make
connections about the firestorm’s recent events in Southern California.
The following five activities are available to use in Language Arts classrooms as a
supplement to the curriculum. The links to them are found below. Some activities are
from An Integrated Approach to Expository Writing: High School and Getting Ready for
the CAHSEE Language Arts.
For questions please call Kathleen Guilfoyle (858) 292-3822 or email at
ACTIVITY 1: (15 minutes)
1. Teacher distributes copies of the poem “Leadership in the Firestorm” and reads
aloud to the class.
2. Teacher shows the Journal Entry Directions (Memoir) on an overhead.
3. Students complete a Journal Entry (Memoir).
ACTIVITY 2: (60 minutes)
1. Teacher reads Directions for the Academic Vocabulary Journal and shows the
AWL word list to students on an overhead.
2. Teacher distributes an Academic Vocabulary Journal page to students.
3. Students complete the journal page and share with a partner.
4. Students whip around the room and share one thing about their word with the
class, not duplicating anything about the word.
5. Teacher downloads the article “Biodiversity takes a hit” (San Diego Union
Tribune, October 28, 2007) from
Make a class set of the article. Students read and discuss with a partner, noting
the images in the picture.
6. Teacher shows the Journal Entry Directions (Expository) on an overhead.
7. Students complete a Journal Entry (Expository).
ACTIVITY 3: (60 minutes)
1. Teacher distributes the Practice Writing Prompt B (Persuasive Writing) on the
evacuation essay in the CAHSEE format.
2. Discuss the portions of the prompt including the Reminder, the Writing Task (with
background and task), and the Checklist for Writing.
3. Brainstorm ideas with students and chart them.
4. Give students time to outline their ideas, brainstorm support and evidence, and
write a short response to the prompt. If you have newspapers available, or can
give students time to research information, you may do so for this practice
ACTIVITY 4: (200 minutes)
1. Teacher distributes Practice Writing Prompt A (Biographical Narrative) and the
blank CAHSEE Prompt Analysis Organizer to students.
2. Teacher reviews the parts of the writing prompt and partners or table groups
complete notes on each part. Teacher has an “annotated version” for reference.
3. Table groups paraphrase the prompt and the teacher checks for understanding.
4. Teacher reads the Lesson Plan for Biographical Narrative (Prewriting) from
Getting Ready for the CAHSEE Language Arts about prewriting for the
Biographical Narrative using the Quick Steps Strategy, a three-part technique for
5. Teacher previews the three step strategy and reviews the “annotated example”.
6. Teacher distributes the blank Quick Steps Strategy for Prewriting Biographical
Narrative to students.
7. Teacher leads students through each of the three Quick Steps, showing them on
an overhead, allowing students time to write.
8. Students write a response to the prompt for practice.
ACTIVITY 5: (120 minutes)
1. Teacher chooses a poem on happiness (for example, “So Much Happiness” by
Naomi Shihab Ney from Poems to Live by in Uncertain Times, edited by Joan
Mujrray) and makes a copy for students.
2. Students read the poem, then teacher reads aloud to students.
3. Teachers displays Poetry Connection Directions (Prewriting) on overhead.
4. Students write their response to the directions.
5. Teacher distributes the Practice Writing Prompt C (Response to Literature).
6. Students write an essay based on the prompt.