Saturday, October 19, 2013

Enhancing Writing Skills

Over the past several weeks I've witnessed a dramatic transformation and enhancement of writing skills by my freshman students. Having observed my son's personal dislike for writing assignments many years ago, it warms my heart to see individuals slowly coming into their own, developing their "voice" on paper in a way which demonstrates both perception and reality for an assigned topic. This past week my 1st Block class had the pleasure to Skype with nationally-acclaimed writer Ken Harris, author of the many "Don't Know Much About History" textbooks. It was an awesome experience and my students came away with a better understanding of people and events that occurred in early American history. Mr. Harris spoke about ways to work on their writing skills, alluding to the fact that it takes ongoing practice to perfect those skills. Although some in my class had used Skype at home, they had never been involved in a group call...making the experience all the more meaningful. I stood on the sidelines and watched their expressions in reaction to the conversations taking place between Mr. Harris and the class. It was everything a teacher wants...and more.

When our Skype time was up I asked students to use a Type 2 Writing Prompt with a reflection on what they learned from this interaction, and what followed surpassed my greatest expectations as an educator as they wrote from the heart and the head. In all my years working with salespeople, few wrote with genuine passion for what they observed. This group has come very far since that first day of school and I constantly remind them that as they invest more time and effort into their writing skills they will become all the more comfortable in their approach to higher education, not to mention a greater asset to any potential employer in the workplace. They "get it" like few groups I've ever associated with and this motivates me to create more creative lesson plans.

I pity those educators who are teaching the same lessons over and over again, thinking that today's students are listening, thinking and comprehending information the way that their predecessors did 10-20-30 years ago. Nothing could be further from the truth, and those who practice this regimentation only compound an ongoing problem in education. I am encouraged by what I see and feel taking place in my classroom, knowing that my students are truly engaged and fully-vested in their education.

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