A new report by something called the Alliance for Excellent Education says there needs to be some major changes in the way writing is taught to middle and high school students.
The researchers identified eleven elements for writing instruction that were found to be effective in using “writing as a tool for learning”. Among them are:
Collaborative Writing: Uses instructional arrangements in which adolescents work together to plan, draft, revise, and edit their compositions.
Specific Product Goals: Assigns students specific, reachable goals for the writing they are to complete.
Prewriting: Engages students in activities designed to help them generate or organize ideas for their composition.
Inquiry Activities: Engages students in analyzing immediate, concrete data to help them develop ideas and content for a particular writing task.
Process Writing Approach: Interweaves a number of writing instructional activities in a workshop environment that stresses extended writing opportunities, writing for authentic audiences, personalized instruction, and cycles of writing.
Study of Models: Provides students with opportunities to read, analyze, and emulate models of good writing.
Writing for Content Learning: Uses writing as a tool for learning content material.
The whole thing reads like a list of goals for which blogs and wikis would be excellent tools.
Especially since any valid writing assignment we give to students should be shared with more than just the teacher.
Of course, a curriculum like that doesn’t fit well at all with the way writing is now taught in most schools. And here is one good reason why we’re not likely to see it happen any time soon.
“But often,” she added, “the working conditions in schools are not what they should be to enable teachers to put those strategies in place.”