It is through writing that our thoughts become clear.
When we write, we express not only what we know or what we’ve learned but also personal experiences in ways which are authentic to us. Educators should consider how many of our students are lost when dealing with writing assignments. How many of them have become convinced that writing is too hard especially if the task seems complex? How many of them stop writing? How much of their insight and perception is lost because there is an over emphasis on product over the process of writing?
Educators should help their students to know themselves as writers.
As writers, these students can understand how they can use writing to help them make sense of their world. However, given the constraints of the curriculum which must be covered, most teachers do not provide their students with sufficient support and guidance to help them learn how they can use the writing process to increase their understanding of concepts and also to develop a sense that they are good writers. All too often, the product and grades have become more important than learning and understanding. Students are taught ways to manage their writing rather than develop their skills as writers.
Writing anything will become less daunting.
When educators work with students to help them come to know their own preferred pre-writing, drafting, and revision processes, writing anything will became less daunting. Yet many teachers feel intimidated in teaching writing. They may teach following the strategy that students should complete each stage of the writing process before they move on to the next. Yet the stages of the writing process are not discrete but, rather, recursive. It is when teachers let go of any need for tight control over student writing and become ‘the guide on the side’ who encourages and supports student writing that teachers can see their students develop into effective writers.
I became a better teacher.
Helping students to see themselves as writers is important. Coming to understand how I write and how I could support my students changed my teaching practice significantly. I became a better teacher. However, my experience working with students who are expected to use one organizational format across all subjects and adhere to the formalized rules of writing literary essays has made me aware that what I describe as the ‘standard writing program’ is still in place. The standard program which requires adherence to specific formats and rules has a dampening impact on students as they work to understand how they can use writing to explain and to persuade. The quality of student writing has, all too often, been replaced by emphasis on product over process.
I have put together what I have learned through workshops, discussions with colleagues, reading, and my personal experiences as a writer and as a teacher of writing. In creating this, I have worked to encapsulate more than 33 years of learning and writing for the potential benefit of all those who educate students.
In Let Them Write – Teaching Writing, educators can understand:
- What writing involves.
- The characteristics of effective writers and their writing strategies.
- What successful writing entails.
- The stages of the Writing Process.
- How to use the Writing Process effectively.
- How to use writing as a framework for lesson and unit planning.
- How to encourage student development as writers.
- How to create a balanced writing environment.
By re-thinking the process and letting them write, you too can simplify your approach and empower your students to create their best work.