Thursday, May 01, 2008
Writing is a difficult skill to learn and a difficult skill to teach. Any students who plan on attending high school or post-secondary school in an English speaking country will need to improve their writing skills.
When I’m teaching writing, I often assign students compositions about famous people. I like using this topic because information is readily available to the students and they don’t have to spend a lot of time researching. I also like using this topic because it’s quite impersonal. I don’t want the compositions turning into reflective pieces.
In class I review the structure of the composition--introduction, a body of at least 3 paragraphs, and a conclusion. I remind students not to write the introduction or the conclusion until they have written the body of their composition. I review paragraphs with the class, and remind them that each paragraph should be about only one main point. I remind students that each paragraph should have an opening and a closing sentence. Students dutifully write down everything I say in their notebooks. Then for homework they start writing their compositions.
I check their first drafts for sentence structure and organization. The students make the necessary changes. Then I check their next drafts for spelling and grammar. Again the students make the necessary changes. Then I check their third drafts for logic, cohesion and content. The students make the necessary changes a third time and submit a final copy to me to be marked.
Students usually don’t understand why they need to write so many drafts of the composition, or why I won’t point out all their mistakes on their first drafts. But realistically they would be overwhelmed by the amount of red ink on their papers if I made all the corrections at once. They must realize that writing is a process that takes time. It’s important to have the strong foundation of good sentence structure and organization, before focusing on spelling, grammatically errors or style.
When teaching writing I stress to my students that their writing will not improve immediately. They must be patient and not expect to immediately become competent writers of English.
POSTED BY Cecelia Sumi AT 5:08 PM