Teachers wrestle with how to improve students' writing — and their own
The Common Core State Standards place a strong emphasis on students’ writing skills across the curriculum, but many teachers lack sufficient expertise in how to teach writing, according to The New York Times.
A 2016 study of close to 500 teachers in grades 3-8 showed that fewer than half had focused on how to teach writing while they were in college, and fewer than a third had taken a course specifically about writing instruction.
Writing Revolution, an organization founded by Judith Hochman, provides workshops for teachers that emphasize proper sentence structure, while other approaches encourage personal connections and increasing teachers’ comfort level with their own writing.
Whether students are headed into college or to a career after high school, strong communication skills are increasingly important. But results from “the nation’s report card” show that among most students, writing skills are still weak. The most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress scores show that only 27% of both 8th and 12th graders performed at or above the proficient level. Poor writing skills also contribute to roughly half of college freshmen being required to take remedial courses, which increase college costs, don’t count toward a degree and have been shown to discourage students from staying in school
In addition, an influential 2011 book, "Academically Adrift," showed that fewer than half of the students in the study sample saw improvement in their writing over their time in college. The National Writing Project, a network of university-based professional development programs, is one of the largest initiatives focusing on the teaching of writing in K-12 schools. At local sites, teachers focus not only on writing in the classroom but also in the community, with families and during summer and after-school programs. In "Writing Now," the National Council of Teachers of English discusses the impact of digital devices on writing and calls for extensive and authentic writing in the classroom and ongoing professional development for teachers.
- The New York Times Why Kids Can't Write
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