Sunday, May 4, 2008


Many would agree that formal writing is all about composition. Composing for a particular audience which is quite distinct from composing txt spk 4 IMs, SMS, Skype ch@, n oder P2P msgs. Have difficulty reading that? That is the point.
The Pew Foundation just published Writing, Technology & Teens recently. This report states,

  • 83% of parents of teens feel there is a greater need to write well today than there was 20 years ago.
  • 86% of teens believe good writing is important to success in life – some 56% describe it as essential and another 30% describe it as important.

    Two of school's major constituent groups hold writing in high regard. Therefore faculty and admins should do so too. The question then becomes, "How do I write well?"
    There are many excellent writing programs already published. Our school is using Step Up to Writing. The lessons are as easily employed on blogs and wikis as on paper. I think for me the big lesson is practicing with middle school learners when to use txt spk and when to employ formal composition styles.

  • How do you teach composition in your school? Is it limited to writing composition?
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    Mathew said...

    I'm a big fan of Lucy Caulkins's writer's workshop type method where students have time to write about what they want to write about. Students learn about form when it's appropriate to their content.

    Louise Maine said...

    Excellent question. I am focusing on blogging more in my classes next year. I am also using this as a focus on action research that I would like to do. I do not teach writing though so have a lot to do in order to provide guidelines for my students and find a measuring tool to help with the research,. i do believe though that students write better over time and with appropriate feedback. I am interested in what others have to day.

    mrsdurff said...

    @louise aka hurricanemaine your post mentions Felix
    (always want to think of Felix Unger but that's my cultural baggage speaking)! Interesting thoughts!

    @matthew of Writing Workshop fame? My master's program had us study her and Regie Routman. Glad someone else uses them too.

    Kevin said...

    This is an interesting question.
    I truly believe that my students have to see themselves as creative writers with some freedom, and then I use that positive energy to show them the finer points of composition.
    So, we do a lot of freewriting and prompts, just for the sake of writing, and then those pieces of writing become the stepping stones for lessons.

    Adrienne said...

    Hi there -
    I have always used the Writers Workshop process to teach writing. There are many, many styles, but they all follow generally the same process. Big names: Nancie Atwell and Peter Elbow are two of the ones I respect. I've been in 3 schools now that used Writers Craft texts, and Elbow is the associate editor of those. I find them excellent; I wish the publisher would create new ones that were contextual for 21st century literacies. Unfortunately they (McDougal Litell) have gone now to the idea of language / writing rather than writing as a process. :-(

    Intrepid Teacher said...

    99% of teaching writing is inspiration. Until a person realizes the power writing has for them as an individual, he or she will never become a writer.

    I feel that reading is vital to teaching good writing. Students need to read rich varied styles of writing to see what is possible.

    Teaching composition is irrelevant because it is artificial. I guess the question is do we want to teach kids how to write to get through college or do we want them to be writer? There is a difference, I think. For more on that please read:

    I guess in the long run, very few people are meant to be writing, so maybe we should just bore kids to death teaching them how to write essays they could care less about, so they can go to college, get a good job, and never write again.