Writing: More Than a Grading Device
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
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
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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