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Writing Theory


    Writing is a means of communicating ideas and information. The responsibility lies on the teacher's shoulders to enhance their students' abilities to express themselves effectively. In order for students to communicate well they need to have to expand their cognitive academic language proficiency level (CALP). CALP contains the genres of power that leads to success. It is important for students to learn how to think critically and creatively. It is the teacher's responsibility to initiate this thought process. Writing improves a person's ability to think concisely and clearly. Students learn to organize their ideas in a cohesive and flowing manner. Writing is an essential part of the developing child.

    As teachers, we are given the responsibility of improving and enhancing students' writing, in both content and in grammar. George Hillocks is a renowned author and advocate for opposing the instruction of grammar in isolation. Hillocks believes that learning grammar in isolation (by using instructional work sheets or lessons specified to be focussed on grammar) does not improve student writing, but can be in fact detrimental. Hillock's definition of grammar is punctuation, spelling, and usage.

    This grammar instruction needs to be addressed in the intermediate level of elementary education. The approach in such lessons or instructions does not have to be addressed in a formal designated time period. The grammatical structures of sentences and spelling should be addressed as the problems are presented in the context of their own work.

    Rosemary Buck has an opposing view of George Hillock's theory. "The teaching of grammar in isolation helps to develop high-order critical thinking skills that are essential to the development of 'good writing' but that critical thinking skills are very difficult to measure and have an indirect impact on a piece of writing rather than a direct effect." (Buck March 1997)

    Buck believes that studying grammar improves the quality and clarity of critical tinking. Grammar may not directly improve the student's writing immediately but will improve their thought process and analytical abilities.

    As teachers, our role is to prepare children for the challenges of tommorrow's society. In order for these children to succeed, they need to be equipped and well aware of the genres of power which rule the world. Whether oral or written, the different types of genres are a child's key to power, prestige and priviledge. By developing these styles of writing, a child is empowered to use this key to unlock any door that leads to success. Writing is a transitory verb, therefore, one should not just teach writing, but teach to write something. For example, to have children succeed, they need to be taught to write good persuasive arguments. A successful person is respected and influenced in their interaction with others because they are able to express themselves in expository and persuasive forms of language.

    There are a number of controversies with Donald Graves' creation of the writing process. From beginning to end, this process includes pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and finally, publication. However, a writing process should not be linear since it does not conform to sequential stages. In today's technologically advanced society, computers are an essential means of preparing and writing essays. The writer is now able to be recursive during the development of his/her written work. Therefore, because of this element, the Socio-Culture Anticipatory Recursive writing process (S.C.A.R.) is an excellent model. In this model, students are able to share their drafted work with each other which can be a very good learning experience. In Graves' writing process, this vital component of sharing work is overlooked. Also, in the S.C.A.R. model, presenting the written work is the final stage. This is a lot more realistic than Graves' final stage, which is publishing. Very few people actually reach the final stage of getting their work published. Thus, having a realistic final stage such as presentation is a very motivational factor for students.