Monday, December 8, 2008

Writing Skills are Life Skills

In this article, the author mentions that if children write often to acquire positive feedback, that they will become better and better writers. I disagree. I think that with frequent writing and both positive and constructive feedback, children will become more fluent writers. Gaining only positive feedback, how can students progress in their writing skills?

The article also highlights ways to help students become better writers. The first is to have them read more. I agree with this method completely, as I have found that I am a better writer when I have been reading consistently. The next pointer is to have students to have students experiment writing for different audiences. It suggests "short stories, notes to the Tooth Fairy, letters to the editor, vacation journals, thank-you notes, a business letter to a company about a broken product or letters to grandparents." These practices sound like a good idea, and a great way to get children writing about whatever they want. I remember engaging in some of these writing activities as a child - writing to the tooth fairy and to Santa Claus, exchanging letters with my grandparents on a regular basis, writing thank you notes to relatives for birthday and Christmas presents, and keeping journals - especially when I went on a vacation. I would like to think that these practices aided my writing and I know that it sparked my passion for writing.

Among these methods are seemingly effective ways to get kids writing at an early age. I agree that proficient writing skills are essential to success in school as well as in any career. I'm glad that this is a recognized skill, and hopefully less students will shy away from the love of writing.

1 comment:

Kristen said...

I agree with Fiona, that it is nearly impossible to cultivate better writing through postive feedback only. However, I think the point the author was trying to make was that students need a balance (which Fiona also mentioned, granted) of positive and negative. I feel like the author was addressing the fact that many English teachers CORRECT writing, instead of ASSESSING it for its overall positives and negatives. As teachers, we need to focus more on what will get the individual student to write more. Will it be the positive comments that make her proud and enthusiastic? Or the negative comments that make him bored and annoyed? We need to make sure, then, that we understand our students as individuals, and when we assess their writing for both positives and negatives, we need to be as honest as possible without permanently damaging the child's spirits.

I also agree with the old adage that a student who reads more writes better. It makes perfect sense, and I think this is one major practice that teachers need to focus on if they want to improve student writing. Kids should be taught the joy in reading, the escape it provides, and the helpfulness it yields when it comes time to write. They will understand how to write without having to be taught the proper structure for a sentence-it will sound right to them, because they've read enough proper language. I also agree that writing materials like letters to Santa can be useful, because just as we need to show kids the fun in reading, we must also show them the fun in writing. I just felt like commenting on this one, because reading is my passion.