Why Your Students Should Write More (and How to Get Them to Do It)

Now that time has continued its march to the start of a new year, it is once again time for  resolutions. In the cycle of teaching, this stage is actually one of the things I look forward to the most because it gives me another chance to look at the missteps of the previous semester and chart a course to actually do it right this time.

One of my major resolutions this semester is that I want my students to write more. Nearly any writing teacher or study of note points to lots and lots and lots of writing as an essential ingredient to student writing growth. Colleen Cruz in The Unstoppable Writing Teacher suggests writing 30-45 minutes at least four times per week. The massive 2011 study “The Nation’s Report Card” found that the students who performed the best on writing reported doing it for 30-60 minutes in class each day. Kelly Gallagher simply reminds us that in the same way that the best swimmers swim the most and the best readers read the most, the best writers generally write the most.

I think most teachers wouldn’t disagree with the idea that having students write more will probably help them write better, but where that gets tricky for me (and I would guess for many others) is that I already have so much stuffed into each day that finding time to assign and respond to more writing hardly seems reasonable for my students or me. The good news is that if a writing activity or assignment is carefully designed, it doesn’t necessarily have to add extra grading time and supplant content. In fact, if it is really well designed it can even aid in helping you to teach more curriculum in less time and cut down on the hours that you spend responding to student work.   Continue reading “Why Your Students Should Write More (and How to Get Them to Do It)”