I came across an interesting article posted on Twitter which made made me think about the importance of teaching writing: Is teaching Writing as Important as Teaching Reading?
I agree that teaching writing is essential, but for a student to begin writing she must first learn to read adequately and independently. How else can a student acquire the necessary vocabulary skills along with the syntactical skills required of a competent writer? Reading a variety of texts empowers the student and as a result may induce her to write.
As the article states, the writing must be spontaneous. A student should feel free to write on topics of her choice. In addition, this will give the teacher an idea of the student’s interests and passions.
How to get a student to write? I use a variety of writing prompts to get the juices flowing. I usually set a 5-minute time limit. When the timer goes off, each student may share what she writes with a classmate to get some general feedback on the content. Grammar and spelling are not taken into account. Later, the student will select any of the writing prompts done in class and develop it into a narrative.
What to evaluate? That really depends on what the teacher wants to emphasize. It could be just syntax and vocabulary. Maybe the teacher wants to check the flow of ideas. As a teacher, I just want to get the student to feel confident in writing; confident enough to voice her opinion on a variety of topics.
On the topic of voicing opinions, most students do it using various mediums. The article mentions e-mailing, texting, and using social media platforms. A teacher could suggest the student select one of a number of topics addressing an issue discussed on any of the social platforms (cyber-bullying comes to mind).
Reading and writing go hand in hand. Which is more important to teach? You decide. ~~LMMolina