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April 2014 | Volume 71 | Number 7
Writing: A Core Skill
Writing powerfully is a skill that teachers know every student needs to develop if he or she is to have the best chances in life. Yet, paradoxically, it's one of the skills that students most often resist practicing. These articles explore some of the central skills involved in the complex act of writing—and how educators can get past students' too-common resistance to writing.
Penny Kittle ("Teaching the Writer's Craft") takes on a tough part of teaching writing—getting students to improve their sentence structure and punctuation. Kittle says that by showing students how using correct mechanics gives their writing more power, we can "lure students into crafting artful sentences." Rather than over-enforcing rules with red pens, teachers should provide "systematic and playful practice at" writing powerful, correct sentences. She suggests six practices: independent reading; having students write about their passions; daily revision; sentence study; practice combining sentences; and teacher modeling.
In "Parents as Writing Partners," Mary Ehrenworth highlights an often overlooked source of support for helping students become effective writers—their parents.
Discuss in your group: what do you think of Ehrenworth's idea that teachers should guide parents to become their child's "writing partner"? Have you ever thought of your students' parents in this way or tried to enlist their support in encouraging their child to write often and well?
Many teachers of struggling writers, especially English language learners, are concerned about how they'll get their students' writing skills up to the level required by the new Common Core standards, especially in terms of argument writing and backing claims up with evidence. ELL teacher Larry Ferlazzo and his cowriter Katie Hull-Sypnieski ("Teaching Argument Writing to ELLs") describe lessons they use to strengthen evidence gathering and expository writing skills for their students at varied English-speaking levels.
Copyright © 2014 by ASCD
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