Teaching writing is fulfilling and challenging at the same time. Writing is a complex process that encourages students to explore thoughts and ideas, and make them visible and concrete. It challenges thinking and learning by motivating the student through communication and makes thought available for reflection. When the student writes down their thoughts, ideas can be examined, reconsidered, added to, rearranged, and changed. Students are allowed to find their voice and share it with others.
In order for writing to encourage thinking and learning, it must be viewed as a process by the student. Once the student views writing as a process that everyone uses in a different way, they will experience much less pressure or “writing phobias” and experience much more success the first time around. They will also be more willing to experiment, explore, revise, and edit. Of course, all this comes with practice, practice, and yes, more practice!
Students will go through several different developmental writing stages–the novice, the transitional writer, the willing writer, and finally, the independent writer. Just as there are different stages of writers, there are different styles of teaching writing to those writers. A few of the styles include: the controlled to free approach, the free writing approach, the paragraph-pattern approach, the grammar-syntax-organization approach, the communicative approach, and the process approach. Your student’s learning style and your teaching style will help you make decisions regarding which method or methods to use. There are also online excellent curriculum resources available for folks who think they are not up to teaching their student about writing, or just don’t have the time to put into teaching writing effectively.
Writing prompts are a fun way to encourage writing. Prompts take some of the pressure off the student by guiding them, especially in getting started. Graphic organizers are another great idea for aiding students in the writing process. I think the most important thing students have to understand about writing is that is can and should be fun rather than a chore that is dreaded. Once students view writing as something that is fun, their excitement level ratchets up and the “chore” becomes enjoyable.