By Suzanne Klein on
6/26/2012 9:45 PM
Promising advances such as writer's workshop have changed the face of writing instruction, but national measures still tell us that two-thirds of our graduates can't write. How do we solve that paradox?
Why do America’s children write so poorly? Writing instruction has seen a lot of innovation since I was a kid. Like many of my peers, I struggled with writing under the old system of the 3 A’s – assign, assume, and assess. My teachers assigned a topic, assumed we could write about it, and assessed our finished pieces.
Today's kids have it better. Yet there’s still a disconnect. Despite the advances in instruction since I was a child, most teachers still don’t teach writing well. On the last national writing assessment (the NAEP), less than a third of 12th graders, and less than a quarter of elementary students, could write proficiently.
How do we reconcile promising changes in writing pedagogy with this reality? That calls for a quick history lesson in writing instruction.
Message Over Mechanics
New approaches for young writers emerged in the 1980’s when process writing made its way into American classrooms. The whole language movement had made its impact on reading, and now Donald Graves and Donald Murray brought a similar holistic approach to writing.