A writing class is more than just about reading a text and writing about it. Writing, if you really think about it, is “thinking on paper”. What this means is that in order for students to write something, they have to have something to think about. If we want our students to be writers who compose thoughtfully written and well supported compositions, then we must first let them learn/read about whatever it is we want them to think about and then think out loud. Moreover, studies have shown that many students have difficulty writing or reading because they have insufficient background knowledge. Although I do agree that the act of writing itself helps one to become a better writer, it also helps when students have been given opportunities to learn about something, connect it to what they already know, think about it from multiple perspectives, and then write about it in a focused, organized, and thoughtful manner. These traits of good writing also have to be directly taught through modeling and direct instruction.
As I noted in my previous post, my students will explore human rights issues through various readings, choose a topic, research it, develop a thesis and an outline, write an essay, revise, edit, rewrite and publish it. In addition to the formal paper, each student will present his claim through the medium of his choice.
Today my students were introduced to the concept of human rights. However, since we had been away on break, I reminded them that we are going to write an argument, which is a little different from the expository pieces we had been writing throughout the semester, and really, since the fourth grade.
I introduced the class to the following words: exposition and argumentation. Yes, they sound like big words, but I assured them that they have been exposed to both of these types of writing without even knowing it–through reading books and writing exercises assigned by teachers.