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How To: Adjust Your Teaching Style to Your Students' Learning Style
How to Home
How To: Adjust Your Teaching Styles to Students' Learning Styles
How To: Develop as a Professional
How To: Implement Standards, Curriculum, and Assessment

Writing: More Than a Grading Device
Sharon Longert

To many students, writing means the finished product, to be written for and graded by the teacher who alone knows the criteria. Most students view the process of writing this way because teachers use writing as a product at the end of a unit. But the process of writing requires active engagement with content and is an extension of the reading process. As students write they construct meaning around the content/subject matter. They make connections between the topic and themselves. They discover what they know and do not know. Writing then becomes a tool for learning, not only an end product.

So, what can teachers do to increase writing output. Try some of these “keep it simple” strategies:

  • Don’t feel it’s necessary to grade every single assignment.
  • Monitor with a check whether the student attempted a response or not.
  • Create a criteria checklist and check off items that are familiar to the students.
  • Allow students to check off items on a criteria checklist for a “buddy,” or read and comment on one another’s writing
  • Use feedback forms with stem statements like:
    • I like what you said about…
    • When I read what you wrote, it reminded me of…
    • Have you thought about….?
  • Have students “sign” a statement attesting that their work has been proof read; many students never reread their own work!

When developing writing-to-learn topics consider the following:

  • Keep it short. Give students think time and have them write for only five to seven minutes.
  • Require creative thinking and exploration of the text material through integration, i.e., What this mean to me…
  • Consider putting all student responses on a display board for a fixed period of time, not just the superior papers. Students may write more carefully if they think someone other than the teacher is reading it.
  • Vary the assignment. Have students write learning log entries, analogies, poems, editorials, letters to a friend, letters to a historical figure, mathematician or scientist, specific response to a hypothetical situation.
  • Have students develop a short script for a radio or TV news broadcast that illustrates the concept.
  • Have students select a song or write a song that illustrates the concept and ask them to explain why it represents the concept.

By incorporating a writing strategy that takes into account the task, the audience, the format, and the topic students are forced to process information that they read into a written form. This strategy is more personal and goes beyond merely writing answers to question. You’ll find an increase in student motivation because it allows for more creative responses to learning the material.

I hope you’ve found this article helpful. If you have a question or suggestion, don’t hesitate to e-mail me.

 

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