I love teaching writing. Well, let me rephrase that, I love teaching writing, now… It wasn’t until I was in my graduate studies that I actually learned how to teach writing. Sure, I wrote in college, learned grammar and convention rules, explored genres, and had writing classes during my undergraduate work, but a class on how to actually teach writing… I don’t recall that being part of any course I took for my education degree.
Following my graduate studies my philosophy on the teaching of writing changed. I found my students more interested in writing and sharing their thoughts. I, too, began to write more and eventually started a blog to share with other educators. And along with an increase in enjoyment and confidence, the skills and craft of writing strengthened.
Now, I work with other educators on how they can best refine their instructional practices. And when I am lucky, I get to also share my best practices in the teaching of writing. One thing is certain when I share my love of writing with other educators; I have been influenced by many experts in the field of writing. The following is a small sampling of what I feel are important quotes, suggestions, and affirmations on the teaching of writing.
A person can read without writing, but he cannot write without reading. If we neglect writing, it is also at the expense of reading.
The world of writing is a mural, not a snapshot. Students’ notions of genre should be expansive, not narrow.
Writing is not thinking written down after all of the thinking is completed. Writing is thinking.
Donald M. Murray
We are living in a new era of literacy, one in which participation is key – participation in:
A digital culture
A global conversation
What this participation mostly entails is writing.
Randy Bomer & Michelle Fowler
Writing taught once or twice a week is just frequent enough to remind students that they can’t write and teachers that they can’t teach.
Donald H. Graves
You don’t learn to write by going through a series of preset writing exercises. You learn to write by grappling with a real subject that truly matters to you.
Teach the writer, not the writing.
Studies over time indicate that teaching formal grammar to students has a negligible or even harmful effect on improving student writing.
Very young children can write before they can read, can write more than they can read, and can write more easily than they can read—because they can write anything they can say.
Calkins; Graves; Harste, Woodward, & Burke; Sowers
Writing, in this instance, is a particularly powerful tool for helping adolescents listen, reflect, converse with themselves, and tackle both cultural messages and peer pressures.
Douglas Fisher & Nancy Frey
After all, teachers should not be able to grade all of the writing students do. If they can, they aren’t inviting students to write enough.
But of all of the strategies I have learned over the years, there is one that stands far above the rest when it comes to improving my student’s writing: The teacher should model writing – and think out loud while writing – in front of the class.
Teaching students to write is something very few teachers learned how to do during their undergrad. But when we do teach writing, the voice that is developed in our students carries with them into their adult lives. It’s hard, difficult at times, but definitely worth it! And just when we least expect it, a former student drops you a line like this one on Facebook!