Student Choice, Engagement Keys to Higher Quality Writing

Student choice & engagement are powerful and reminders that teachers need to design/plan for this to happen

radical eyes for equity

Let’s not tell them what to write. (p. 301)

LaBrant, L. (1936, April). The psychological basis for creative writingThe English Journal, 25(4), 292-301.

As a teacher of writing, I immediately connected Nine Ways to Improve Class Discussions with George Hillocks’s Teaching Writing as Reflective Practice. Not to oversimplify, but Hillocks’s work emphasizes several key points about effective writing instruction, captured well in a chart at the end of the volume:


Hillocks revealed that many so-called traditional approaches to writing instruction were far less effective than many of the practices at the core of writing workshop—notably that direct, isolated grammar instruction has a negative impact on student writing while free writing (without direct instruction) improves student writing.

At all grade levels, then, if our goals of instruction include improving students as writers, we must acknowledge and then implement practices that honor first student choice and engagement.


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