For many years of teaching, I would follow the same formula over and over throughout the year with my classes: teach a unit, finish unit, assign paper on that unit. Writing happened, but it was the thing that we did after we did the other stuff.
What this means is that writing mostly happened at home, that we didn’t do much practice writing in class, and that we were already moving on to the next unit when students were working on that paper. They saw the final paper as a test, but also as something that they handed in and never really thought about again. Rather than seeing writing as a process, or even as a priority in my class, they saw it as pure assessment and as something that was maybe even the last priority.
Over the years, I have worked to get writing to the top of the list. It’s no longer the thing we do after the other stuff—it’s the reason why we do the other stuff. Here is how I make writing a priority:
Do some write-to-learn every day. I do quick writes and freewrites daily. I really believe that the more students write, the more comfortable they are writing, and the more comfortable they are writing, the better they are at writing. So we write for at least five minutes every day, and usually more than that.
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