Even in the Summer, It Is Important to Think about Teaching Writing

Submitted a year ago
Created by
Brad Choyt
In an article in American Educator
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, authors Judith Hochman and Natalie Wexler reported that only twenty-five percent of US students are writing at the proficient level or above on national tests. This is a big problem both for the seventy-five percent of students who can't write proficiently and for our society as a whole. Expository writing is essential in so many areas and, as Hochman and Wexler wrote, "Students who can’t write at a competent level struggle... No matter what path students choose in life, the ability to communicate their thoughts in writing in a way that others can easily understand is crucial.”  

Hochman and Wexler also point out that being a good reader does not always lead to becominga good writer. Nor does fluency in spoken language, since good writing requires more precision and clarity than verbal communication. So what should teachers and schools do to address this deficiency? I believe the solution is to start teaching writing skills early and to implement a systematic method that develops lifelong habits for clear, organized writing.

The first step is to start with mastering the essential building block for good writing: a clear, well-composed sentence. Skilled writing teachers know that strong sentence structure needs to be the foundation for great paragraphs and convincing essays. Therefore, students should receive lots of practice writing sentences that explain, paraphrase, and summarize content. Furthermore, proper spelling and grammar should be scaffolded to these lessons. And in each step of the process, students should be encouraged to revise their work, putting compositionsthrough several drafts, and to consider transitional phrases, varying word choice and overall clarity. Finally, once the writing is nearly complete, students should read their work aloud so they can hear how it sounds off the written page.

As teachers and parents, we all want the children under our care to be in the twenty-five percent who are proficient in writing. And through systematic teaching and lots of practice, more students will have the chance to learn this essential life skill.  


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