Monday, November 1, 2010

Why Students Should Write

The Importance of Journal and Blog Writing with Students

When you walk into an empty classroom, what do you see? Desks, chairs, books, chalkboards, maybe a couple of computers. But what you don't see is the pressure. Teachers are pressured to meet scores and standards. Parents are pressured to raise the perfect students and to have the means to provide endless resources for their children. Students are pressured to make good grades, participate in school activities, be popular. As we've seen this past month focusing on bullying, we know school can be a pressure cooker for all kinds of emotions. Along with utilizing school resources like counselors and the community of parents and teachers, writing can serve as a key tool in just letting it all out!

Students often see writing as a chore. "O.k. kids, it's time to write in our journals today," the teacher might say. "Awwww!!" reply the children. But what they don't realize, is there are huge advantages to expressing themselves on paper (or keyboard depending on the resources).

A Communication Outlet
Writing allows us to express our thoughts out loud - but not really. Students can tell what they are feeling without having to necessarily face someone. They can talk about interests, goals, their likes and dislikes. When you write an idea down, and elaborate on it, you are emptying your head. And when students can empty their heads on a daily basis, the pressures don't have as much opportunity to build.

Stress Reliever
Once the writing is complete, and their heads are "empty," their work can act as a huge stress reliever. Writing allows students to reflect. They can go back, read how they were feeling the day before, or read about something that made them feel confident a week ago. When students write, they are providing themselves a way to analyze their thoughts, figure out what is going on, and move forward. It's a great problem solving tool.

Skill Builder
Writing enhances skills all across the board. Grammar, writing, reading, researching, proofreading, and on and on. When a student sits down to write, it's not just simply writing on a particular subject assigned by a teacher. Students are researching subjects, practicing English skills, proofing and editing their work, and communicating in a way that they expect everyone who's reading to understand. They are learning how to get their points across. They are learning how to cite sources. They are learning how to improve their skills daily without even knowing it, because constant writing keeps the mind sharp.

Idea Tracker
We know that students can be so creative! Yet they can be so busy as well. Writing, even if it's simply jotting down notes, allows them to remember things for later. Whether it be an essay idea, paper topic, or homework question, the act of keeping their ideas in one place adds confidence and offers another outlet for improving English skills.

Confidence Booster
Writing takes creativity. Students have to think, research, edit,  build sentences, and communicate. When their writing assignment is complete, and they can go back and read what they wrote, it's a huge self-esteem booster. Confidence is especially achieved in the case of a blog, where the audience is not just fellow students or teachers. Students have the opportunity to feel validated when people across the globe can comment and relate to their ideas and feelings.

Whether students are writing or typing their content, it is saved. The work will be there whenever they want to go back and read it. There is a record of what's been created. Knowing "I did this,"  provides a sense of accomplishment. Students need that now, more than ever.

How do you incorporate writing into your classroom instruction? Do you find it valuable? Do you find it difficult to get students to find their creativity?

Internet4Classrooms has a wide range of writing resources and language arts tools. Check us out if you are looking for ideas and information. We'd love to hear from you!

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