To guide the writing process, remember that writing is simply written communication.
If a student has difficulty with writing, encourage him or her whenever possible to write about things with which (s)he is familiar.
It is sometimes acceptable for the teacher to change an assignment slightly into something the student is comfortable writing about.
Free reading should also be encouraged as much as possible. The best writers read a lot, a whole lot!
Many children who have trouble writing read very little and pay attention in class even less. Then they become exasperated with the teacher’s writing assignment.
Encourage your child to make the most of his or her education by becoming a good listener in class and by using free time by reading books for fun.
In modern society, people move often, and young children can be encouraged to send postcards, write short letters, or compose emails to out-of-town grandparents, relatives, or friends who have moved away.
Today even primary students are expected to write short paragraphs on selected topics. Children who have had some experience writing to friends and relatives often have an easier time with school writing assignments.
Self-Help Questions for Students to Ask Themselves before They Begin to Write:
- For whom am I writing?
- What do I already know about this subject?
- What sources can I use to help me? (internet, books, periodicals, interviews)
- What will be the focus (the main point) I wish to make?
- How can I organize or cluster the details to support my focus?
- How can I make one idea flow logically to the next idea?
- How can I make my conclusion a clear refocusing of my introduction?
- Will my examples be helpful to my main point?
- How can I give my own opinion if necessary?
THE WRITING PROCESS:
Prewriting—Students should understand the purpose of the assignment. If unclear, they need to be encouraged to always ask the teacher for clarification before leaving the classroom.
Once clear about the purpose, prior knowledge about the subject should be activated. It helps some to write ideas down randomly and quickly as they come to mind.
Searching for information on the internet is a skill modern students need to understand. They also need to know how to discern good information from bad and good sources from the unreliable.
Taking good notes on ideas and vocabulary is a skill which is so important that parents should take the time to be sure their child acquires this skill. Note taking may be taught in class, but few teachers can give the individual attention to each student that some students need. Because this skill is so important, parents are very highly advised to give individual guidance to their children.
Also, using a dictionary and thesaurus should be effortless; the computer makes this much easier today.
- Rough draft—Students should begin to write without much concern for conventions (spelling, punctuation, capitalization) or polish (style).Write ideas which explain the focus or purpose of the writing.
- Second draft—This time more dedication should be shown to organization. A clear introduction is important. The next part should give details that support the the original focus. A summary or conclusion usually restates the idea in the introduction. Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation should be corrected.
- Conference –at this point many teachers are often willing to give their input into the student’s work. If not, the parent should step in here. Sometimes other students are assigned to peer judge each other’s work, but this activity is subject to the ability of the judging peer. An adult is usually much better. Errors in concept, logic, conclusion, grammar etc. should be noted and corrected by the student during or after the conference.
- Final draft—The student rewrites the composition keeping in mind the corrections previously noted. Also, an addition of style or “sparkle” might improve the composition by one letter grade. This includes a new way of saying something, an original point of view, a distinctive title, a snappy first sentence, and unique and different writing.
CHARACTERISTICS OF EFFECTIVE WRITING
Grades for compositions are often judged on the following points. When a student’s composition is complete, see if these suggestions are met. Ask the student to judge them for himself or herself.
- The composition has a clear purpose and maintains it throughout the writing.
- The details in the body (content) develop the purpose.
- The organization is logical and sequential.
- The introduction and conclusion clearly support the focus of the writing.
- The style includes all types of sentence structures, different lengths, and varied vocabulary.
- Conventions of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization are used correctly.
- The ideas are original and interesting.
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