Why is Writing Important for Students?
Writing skills are such an important part of a student’s education. Writing is a way for students to express and explain themselves adequately, and it encompasses a wide array of skills from grammar and punctuation to clarity and creativity. The perks of writing truly go on and on.
Furthermore, writing skills play an integral role in a student’s future. Potential employers may seek employees who are well versed and competent, but even more so, a written resume may be the first impression given in landing a new job. Imagine submitting an unorganized resume filled with grammatical errors, misspelled words, and half thoughts? Chances are that resume would be “thrown out” pretty quickly. Enhancing writing skills while in middle and high school can set students up for a more successful future, open the door for better opportunities, and make a great impression on those around them.
How to Improve Writing Skills in Students
Grammar and Punctuation
Grammar and punctuation skills are important in both writing and as students progress into adulthood. As mentioned previously, using proper grammar and punctuation presents an excellent first impression for future employers and shows competency. Teachers can help students improve these skills by first providing practice in identifying grammatical errors and correcting them. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use grammar worksheets. Although the use of worksheets is frowned upon at times, they give students the opportunity to practice with grammar skills in a fast and efficient manner. Students may also wish to invest in a grammar dictionary to reference when in doubt.
Another skill that is crucial for students to master for success later in life is spelling! Students must be able to spell words correctly. As with most skills, spelling can be improved with practice. Teachers may ask students to complete the “ancient” practice of the spelling test! Students must study new words (or words and vocabulary specific to new content) in order to spell them correctly on the test. Teachers may even encourage students to create flashcards to help them study. Additionally, one of the easiest ways to spell correctly in writing is to simply reference the dictionary to find a word’s proper spelling.
In writing, vocabulary is highly important. Students need a large enough vocabulary to properly and adequately describe and explain their thoughts. Teachers can help improve vocabulary skills by introducing new words each week. These words can also be used to help student spelling skills as mentioned before. As each week progresses, students should keep a list of all of their vocabulary words in a notebook or journal so that they can be quickly referenced when writing. As with spelling skills, students may want to reference the dictionary to discover new words and their meanings.
Have you ever read something and didn’t quite catch its intended meaning or what it was trying to get across? That may be because the writing lacked clarity. Writing should be logical, consistent, and coherent. In order to have clarity in writing, thoughts should be fully formed and completed with plenty of detail to aid the reader’s understanding and interpretation of the text. Teachers can help improve student clarity in writing by asking them to proofread their work.
Plagiarism is definitely something students need to avoid! When researching a topic or idea, it is easy to get swept away in the language or thoughts of another; however, students must learn that those ideas should be used as an aid in writing instead of using it as a foundation for their writing. Teachers should encourage creativity in writing and challenge students to think “outside the box.” Each student presents unique thoughts and ideas, and those qualities should be utilized in writing.
Strategies for Improving Student Writing Skills
This activity requires teachers to create 4-5 stations for students to visit. At each station, there will be examples of various grammatical errors. Each student will need a clipboard or notebook that travels with them. Students will visit each station at their own pace to find one grammatical error, notate it, and move on; however, the name of the activity is “Grammar Race” so students should be challenged to work quickly. Allow students to move from station to station for 20-30 minutes.
Class Spelling Bee
Teachers can help students improve their spelling skills by hosting a class spelling bee once a week. Teachers should provide students with a list of words on Monday. Students will be given the rest of the week to study the words and prepare for the spelling bee. On Friday, students will complete the spelling bee. The spelling bee is completed like a normal spelling bee; however, words may need to be repeated if there are more students than words. Allow the spelling bee to continue for roughly 30 minutes. When time is up, the students remaining are the winners.
Read It Aloud
In this activity, students will proofread the work of classmates in order to provide constructive feedback. The teacher should place students into small groups of 3-4 students or allow students to work with a partner. Students should trade papers so that they no longer have their own. Then, they will read each student’s writing aloud. Reading aloud helps to identify any mistakes (specifically mistakes in clarity or organization of the text) that may not otherwise be caught. Students should check for mistakes (in both grammar and spelling) and to search for any lack of clarity in writing.
Teachers should aid students in the writing process by teaching them to organize their thoughts on paper first. Students can complete an outline or a writing map on paper first to help them identify the main points they would like to address and so on. Planning the steps in the writing process in this manner is extremely beneficial in staying on task in writing. It also helps students write with clarity as it helps them bring their thoughts full circle.
One of my favorite ways of implementing and teaching creative thinking is by writing one word on the board and asking students to respond. For instance, the teacher may write the word “tiger” or “beautiful” on the board. Student responses can be anything from short personal narratives to expository texts involving the provided word. Regardless of the response, students are encouraged to think creatively and respond freely. This activity teaches students how easy it is to create their own ideas and think uniquely.