Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Writing to Learn

Writing to Learn

As I get ready to embark on this new journey of teaching writing, I spent some time yesterday flipping through the textbook, browsing through web sites, and considering my lesson plans in order to get an idea of what I wanted to teach this year.

And why I wanted to teach it.

So what is my goal for teaching writing this year?

Well, after working at a university where I had the chance to assess some writing assignments of our students, I realized there are many young adults out there who do not know how to write effectively...or creatively...or simply for communicative purposes.

This fact really concerned me.

Learn About Yourself

I realized many students out there do not write to learn. They write to communicate something, to pass a class, or to inform...but they are so used to the rudimentary writing assignments that they rarely go beyond and explore what's out there.

And that's what I want my students to learn!


I want my students to learn how to write...just write...about themselves. Their favorite memories and why, their fears, their goals, their hopes, their dreams. What angers them, what makes them laugh?

This can be done by writing in journals, class discussions, and many other ways rather than the usual prompt written on the board.

Learn About Others

There's more to writing than a teacher providing a prompt and students writing about it in an essay form.

The peer review is an important part of learning how to write. Many of the college students I encountered at the university where I worked did not understand the peer review concept. This told me they were never taught this process while in high school.

And that's a disservice.

I long for my students to learn how to read each other's work with a good critical eye. I want them to learn a little more about each other by listening to each other read from their own work. And I want them to learn how to receive constructive criticism about their own work. All this is part of being a writer and an artist.

So many of us pick up a book to escape reality. We long to disappear into another world. I love to read non-fiction to learn about someone else's experiences. I love to read about history and scientific facts. I long for them to explore a genre they may never have considered before.

There is so much to learn from writing that I am afraid so many of our college students have missed out.

Learn About Your World

Let's face it, blogging is here to stay.

There are millions of blogs out there and more on the way. I choose to read blogs each morning rather than the news paper because news is happening every second of the day. Many blogs have proven to be reliable sources of information.

Other blogs are out there for fun information or for reflection.

I want my students to learn more about what's going on in the world and blogs are a great place to start.

I want them to learn how to formulate an argument and defend it. Blogging is a great source for this! I want them to learn how to review a movie they loved or hated, a book, or even a shopping experience in a local grocery store.

Simple ideas like this can create a writer before you know it!

Writing to Learn

So, as you can see, I have a lot of plans for this school year. 

But my goal is to teach students, not assignments. I want my students to walk away having learned a little bit about themselves, each other, and the world out there.

My hope is for my students to enter into the academic world with a set of skills that will follow them all through life.

Your Turn: What is it about writing that you love or hate? If you could, what would you teach young people about writing?

D.C. Heath and Company (1995). Write Source 2000. Washington, DC: DC Heath and Company Publishers.



  1. You're going to be such a great teacher, because you're passionate. That's what a lot of people are missing!

    I love writing because of the reflection aspect. I can pour my thoughts out in a way that is unique. I can explore topics and not necessarily have to have an answer. The whole point of reading is to explore and think. That's what I want to do as a writer too!

    1. Ah thanks Lindsay. I hope my passion is contagious. I cant wait to see what my students produce. Should be a fun year...

  2. I love writing because it enables me to think about something from all angles. I discover so much more about my thoughts when I put them on paper. And there's really nothing I hate about writing! Maybe all the rules?

    You will be such a fun teacher! Good luck as you plot your course.

    1. Me too Gabrielle! I guess the rules might be the only negative but rules are made to be broken...or at least tested!

      Thanks! Cant wait to blog about what my students will teach me. :)