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These are the secrets to effective writing instruction

E-School News – Dennis Pierce

“How do you know when a student has turned in a good essay? It can be tempting to answer this question as former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said in describing obscenity: I know it when I see it. But educators need a more concrete definition they can apply consistently across all subject areas. For Patti West-Smith, the answer is simple: Does the piece of writing do its job?.”(more)

Assessing Creative Writing Is Hard, So Here Are Three Ways To Avoid It

Ed Surge – Aneesa Davenport

“Everyone knows that outside of the school building, creative writing workshops aren’t graded. Whether it’s a group of retirees who cluster in the back of your corner coffee shop or the so-called Ponzi schemes of MFA programs like the famed Iowa Writers’ Workshop, assessment comes in the form of peer feedback—marginalia and discussion. But if you’re teaching creative writing in a K–12 classroom or a community college, at the end of the day you’re most likely required to stamp a letter grade—or at least a percentage score—on your students’ work.”(more)

From Analog to Digital: Why and How to Teach Students to Write for an Online Audience

Ed Surge – Michael Hernandez

“When was the last time you wrote an essay? When was the last time you read one other than for grading? Now think about the frequency with which you read online articles, blogs, social media posts or listen to podcasts that inspire you or provide new information and perspectives. When did you last watch YouTube to figure out how to do something complicated, from cross stitch to car repair? If you’re like me, you’ve done much of your reading and learning through some kind of digital publishing platform—because it’s easy, accessible and often free. Whether text, video or something else entirely, each of these mediums encompasses a form of writing.”(more)

What’s The Middle Ground Between Grammar And Voice When Teaching Writing?

KQED News Mind/Shift – Katrina Schwartz

“There’s very little research on how to effectively teach writing and few pre-service teachers explicitly learn how to teach it in credentialing programs. And yet good writing has become a central skill for most subject areas, including math and science, where teachers are now asking students to explain their thinking. Many teachers use model texts and writing assignments rooted in students’ lived experiences to give kids practice writing. Proponents of this approach say too much focus on grammar and sentence structure stunts the individual’s voice. On the other side of the debate are people like Judith Hochman, who believes writing should be taught starting at the sentence level.”(more)

Why writing doesn’t just prove learning, it improves all learning-including STEM

E-School News – Eileen Murphy Buckley

“Writing is used to assess student learning more often than it is used to facilitate learning. We talk about writing as a product for assessment, a subject where paragraphs and commas are taught, or a skill that one either has developed or lacks. Rarely do we hear people, even teachers, discuss writing as a process for learning. Imagine if a teacher said, “Go write on it and see what you come up with,” after a student asked a question. “Writing organizes and clarifies our thoughts,” writes William Zinsser in Writing to Learn: How to Write–And Think–Clearly about Any Subject at All. “Writing is how we think our way into a subject and make it our own. Writing enables us to find out what we know—and what we don’t know—about whatever we’re trying to learn.” Simply put, writing is our critical thinking made visible.”(more)

Call to boost children’s writing for pleasure

BBC – Katherine Sellgren

“Children who write for pleasure achieve significantly better results in the subject in the classroom, National Literacy Trust research suggests. Those who like writing outside class are seven times more likely to write above the expected level for their age. While the proportion of children writing for fun has risen, the trust warns many are still not keen on it. It says more attention must be focused on writing for fun, as has already been done on reading for pleasure. The study, published to mark the first National Writing Day organised by the charity First Story, questioned 39,411 eight to 18-year-olds across the UK.”(more)