Sherrelle Walker asked the question: “Are your students writing as much as they should be?”
She explained that classroom writing, done with willful focus and daily diligence, remains an essential part of educating students of all ages, including adults. She also provided five reasons classroom writing is still a must:
1. Writing improves communication skills.
First and foremost, writing provides a vehicle for expression and communication. No matter the age or grade level of your students, diligent writing practice will boost both their skill and comfort level with revealing and relating their own thoughts and feelings.
2. Writing helps students review and remember recently learned material.
Isn’t it always easier to remember a household task or a website to visit later if we write it down somewhere? A brief writing assignment at the end of class, focusing on the day’s lesson and discussions, is a great way to reinforce the material, support long-term recall of the key lesson points and help build writing skills all at the same time.
3. Writing helps educators assess student learning.
Probably the most common use of writing in the contemporary classroom is for a given student to demonstrate that he or she knows and understands x or y concept. Whether the assignment is, for example, an intensive compare-and-contrast essay at the secondary level or writing and illustrating a haiku in the primary grades, writing assignments help teachers see what material students have mastered and where there may be gaps.
4. Writing encourages creativity and exploration.
Daily writing encourages a creative flow that can help students use their imaginations, explore possibilities, delve into problem solving, and engage in storytelling. In addition to “serious” writing assignments which are reviewed and graded, it is important to assign “free” or “creative” writing time, so that students can explore vocabulary, concepts, and writing styles that they wouldn’t risk in a formal essay or heavily graded assignment.
5. Writing is essential for self-understanding.
Even a cursory search online will reveal a plethora of diary-like blogs, filled with entry after entry of highly personal content. In the same way that these blogs serve their authors, classroom writing can help students understand and make sense of their own experiences, locate contexts, and make (sometimes surprising) discoveries about their own thoughts and feelings.
Classroom teachers will find that reading through their students’ writing assignments can give them great insight into each student’s personality, style, and comprehension level of the material being presented. When a high value is placed on consistent writing in the classroom, it’s a win-win all around.
So, write on!