Thursday, June 25, 2009

Teaching Writing in the Classroom - Some of My Thoughts

Coming out of a background of traditional education through history, classics and philosophy, I have come to understand the importance of acquiring the ability to put internal thoughts into external writings. There are a variety of ways to do this in a classroom setting, but one of the most powerful tools is the incorporation of technololgy. This allows students to access a skill set that they are not only familiar with, but also use on a much more frequent basis than the traditional pen and paper method. It is time to end the elitist idea of pure writing and move to a medium that will allow students to express their thoughts and ideas in a fast paced world. This does not mean that there is not value in slowing down, but students live in a world that is full of texting, Facebook, blogging and Skype. Denying the benefit of those tools would not only be foolish, it will also serve to further the gap of relevance in education. The emphasis of writing in the classroom is not lessened by these developments, but rather serves as another way by which to allow students to deepen their understanding of both language and critical thinking skills.

Teaching writing as a skill and as a means of expression allows students to demonstrate mastery of the subject material and provides a way to expand on their personal thoughts and conclusions. Students need to learn to put their thoughts into words and put those words on the page, whether that be a Facebook post or a piece of lined, college ruled paper. From the perspective of a social studies teacher, a tremendous amount of critical thinking is involved in writing as arguments and assumptions must be proven and defended. An enhanced ability to put thoughts into words only increases a student’s confidence and performance.

The practical side of teaching writing requires a constant availability to students to proofread and explain how their writing can be improved and cleaned up. It requires a constant emphasis on critical thinking and encouraging students to understand that writing is a messy process, full of editing and proofreading. Students must learn to be critical of their own writing to allow for further development of their skills.

In my opinion, regardless of the topic, writing is fundamental to success as a student and success as an individual. Being an avid writer allows individuals to explore their own thought process and to express their ideas. This is essential in any profession and is especially critical throughout higher education. Writing is also integral to academic success in high school and in college as by becoming accomplished writers; students will find confidence in other areas of academia. Students who find themselves succeeding in writing will do far more than simply pass the written portions of standardized tests.

Personally, I seek any opportunity to build upon my writing skills, for my own benefit and for the benefit of my instructional ability. Having published an article in a history magazine, I know the rigors of the writing process even on a small scale. My goal is to enhance my writing skills so that I may one day be in various publications. Writing has always been, and will continue to be, a passion.

-Thomas Saul

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