Method Mania: Activities to Teach Written Expression Skills & Strategies
Success in school, in work, and in life can be greatly enhanced by the ability to write effectively. And due to the writing process revolution we are gradually improving the quality of writing. The writing process focuses on exploring metacognitively what writers actually do throughout a writing task; how real writers go about constructing texts. Teachers work closely with students, helping them to understand writing as a communication and learning process. The importance of the creation, expression, and comprehension of meaning is emphasized throughout the process. Because writing is a complex process, students need to progress through a number of levels, not necessarily in a linear fashion, to experience the process. Too often students approach writing with a "one and done" mentality, failing to recognize that complex writing cannot be accomplished in a single sitting, in a single draft. We need to help them realize that successful writers are reflective about their writing processes and habits, learning what procedures work best and adapting them to suit particular situations. The best forum for implementing the writing process into the classroom is through a writer's workshop. A typical writer's workshop is a block of time scheduled each day for students to work through the steps in the process. It is important to remember that writing should extend across the curriculum. If a block of writing time can't be scheduled for one day it should be integrated into another subject. Writing should be viewed as a means of communicating and emerge naturally out of other activities. Teachers should make writing so integral to each lesson that the flow of the class is smooth from mental to verbal to written communication. Teachers using the workshop approach do not ignore the product and parts of language. Instead, the product is considered within the process. Grammar and mechanics are taught in the context of use. In the past, the teaching of formal grammar usually displaced some instruction and practice in actual composition. Unfortunately, with our overcrowded curriculum, teachers can't afford to spend excessive class time on decontexualized grammar exercises that involve little or no actual composition. Students should be given daily opportunities to explore writing and create written text for various purposes. We know that writing is a powerful tool that can influence others and clarify one's own thoughts. Teaching the writing process through the workshop approach can give students the key to unlocking this powerful tool. And the activities in this book are designed to help make the process easier for teachers to pick up and implement today. You will find over 200 mini lessons designed to stimulate critical and creative thinking that can be applied to written composition in all phases of the writing process. Students will continue to recognize that adults who use these activities in the context of authentic literacy lessons are those who are committed to facilitating and promoting only the very best of writers.
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