What’s Working In Writing Instruction

writer's hand

I interviewed Cozette, a friend with a Master’s degree in Education, a background in developing educational enrichment programs for student athletes, and more recently a parent who homeschools her 16-year old daughter and two teenage nephews.

We discussed what she has found to be effective in teaching writing skills, especially to her homeschooled students.  Some of her responses were so similar to the information provided by Kittle that I began to wonder whether she had read the book or whether everyone else was privy to knowledge I’d somehow missed.

She states that she finds avid readers make better writers.  She is especially fond of encouraging students to read the classics, even from a young age.  She thinks that the the writing from earlier periods is much more complex than current literature written for children and teens.

Cozette also implements silent, sustained reading time (SSR), though she was unaware of the technical name for this activity.  Her students have a block of time daily when they read books of their choice.  After finishing a book, the students may do standard book reports or simply engage in discussion regarding aspects of the work such as character development, challenging situations, comparing and contrasting to other works.

She finds it helpful to expose her students to vocabulary before their assigned reading begins.

She states that her daughter has emerged as a very strong creative writer, with a special gift for poetry.  However, her daughter dislikes academic writing intensely, especially reports and essays.  This preference is reflected in the quality of her academic writing, which must be revised multiple times.

Cozette finds that an easy way to give feedback on her students’ writing is to reference a short grammar booklet with numbered grammar rules.  When a rule has been broken, she simply writes the number on the passage in question.  It then becomes the student’s responsibility to review the rule, figure out the error or oversight and make the necessary corrections. If the student isn’t able to do this on their own, Cozette knows that reteaching might be necessary.  (I liked this technique so much that I’ll try to find a copy of the booklet and use it as a teaching resource).

Lastly, when students meet together for their weekly group classes with an instructor, they might pass a writing sample around and collect feedback from 10 other students.  This seemed to be a very effective informal assessment


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