Tuesday, October 9, 2007

WAC & Writing Next

Over the summer I stumbled across the Writing Next report. Its chief findings regarding effective writing instruction are as follows:

The Recommendations -
Eleven Elements of Effective Adolescent Writing Instruction

1. Writing Strategies, which involves teaching students strategies for planning, revising, and editing their compositions

2. Summarization, which involves explicitly and systematically teaching students how to summarize texts

3. Collaborative Writing, which uses instructional arrangements in which adolescents work together to plan, draft, revise, and edit their compositions

4. Specific Product Goals, which assigns students specific, reachable goals for the writing they are to complete

5. Word Processing, which uses computers and word processors as instructional supports for writing assignments

6. Sentence Combining, which involves teaching students to construct more complex, sophisticated sentences

7. Prewriting, which engages students in activities designed to help them generate or organize ideas for their composition

8. Inquiry Activities, which engages students in analyzing immediate, concrete data to help them develop ideas and content for a particular writing task

9. Process Writing Approach, which interweaves a number of writing instructional activities in a workshop environment that stresses extended writing opportunities, writing for authentic audiences, personalized instruction, and cycles of writing

10. Study of Models, which provides students with opportunities to read, analyze, and emulate models of good writing

11. Writing for Content Learning, which uses writing as a tool for learning content material
My school is currently implementing a Writing Across the Curriculum initiative. When I was a reading and writing tutor at Plymouth State University's Reading and Writing Center during graduate school, I first learned about WAC. It was there that I had writing conferences with students from all disciplines - including math!

I am hopeful that as our school encourages writing in other content areas, and as our English Department works to shore up writing instruction across levels and grades, cutting edge research like that found in the Writing Next report will help to guide us in our quest to empower students to become stronger readers, writers, and thinkers.

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