Do you remember your teacher telling you to write a paper when you were in upper elementary or middle school? Did terror strike deep within? I remember my sixth grade teacher assigning a paper that had to be a certain number of words in length. My focus immediately zeroed in on the word count, not what I wanted to convey. Heck, I didn’t care what the paper was about, I only knew I had to meet a quota. How on earth was I going to get all those words in my paper? I know what to do, add useless or unnecessary words. Yes, that will do the trick. I very clearly remember looking for ways to do just that—boost the word count. I am sure the paper wasn’t very good based on my fixation with the numbers. So what did I learn? I learned to dread writing; I learned to add useless words to a paper; I learned to count words very quickly; I learned the topic meant nothing, it’s all about the numbers; and I learned I didn’t learn a darn thing about the writing process.
I have no memory of ever actually being taught to write or even that there was something called the writing process…pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. I know writing would have been way more enjoyable if these important, yet simple steps had been introduced. Just knowing the process could be broken down into manageable bites would have gone a long way in easing my frustration and dread. How about you? Agree?
I have never told my daughter to write a paper of any certain length. That would only create drama for this momma! I always stress she make sure to have a good beginning, a good middle, and good closure at the end. We use graphic organizers to facilitate the brainstorming process.We work on writing topic sentences and supporting details. We write an outline to help keep the flow in order. In short, I try to give her useful tools to get the job done, not set her up to fail or experience dread.
Today there is writing software available to help students succeed in writing. Sure wish that had been around when I was in sixth grade. Who am I kidding, I wish that had been around when I was in college! Now, just for old-time sake, I am going to end this post without a good ending, but not before I let you know there are 418 words.