Developing Life Long Writers

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What does “literacy” mean? According to Webster’s Universal Dictionary, literacy is the ability  to  read  and write. According  to  the United Nations Educational

Scientific,  and Cultural  Society,  literacy  is  the  ability  to  identify,  understand,  interpret,  create,
communicate, and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying
contexts. Even speaking and drawing are forms of writing. A person’s oral development
is connected to his/her writing.

Stages of writing: Scribble, mock handwriting, mock  letter,  real  letters  plus  inventions,
acceptable English letters, invented words, traced words, words copied incorrectly, words
copied  correctly,  words  written  incorrectly  without  coping,  words  written  correctly
without  coping,  invented  spellings  of  a  group  of words, words written without  spaces,
words written  with spaces, words written with spaces

Writing  process:  prewriting:  think  about  topic,  drafting:  write  first  copy;  spelling  is
secondary  to ideas, revising: reread think of ways  to improve  (word choice, detail. etc),
editing: correct mistakes (grammatical and spelling), publishing: make final copy

Teachers  can  evaluate  the  same  writing  piece  differently  because  they  may  stress
different  aspects  of writing. That  is why  a  common  evaluation  is  needed  for  students,
teachers and even parents. There are six (+ 1) characteristics to evaluate writing. They are
called 6+1 writing traits. It is a model used for assessing and enhancing writing which is
developed  and  simplified  by  Ruth  Culham  (2003).  These  traits  are  also  linked  to  the
various parts of  the writing process.  It demonstrates what  is expected, how  to reach the
goals, and how to be properly trained to become a good, strong writer for life.

The traits are:
–  Ideas (main idea and  supportive details)
–  Organization (internal structure: beginning, middle and ending in sequence)
–  Voice (tone, style, purpose, individuality & communication with audience)
–  Word Choice (precise language and phrasing to create a vivid image)
–  Sentence Fluency (complex sentence structure, rhythm, cadence)
–  Convention  (editing/  spelling,  punctuation,  grammar)  it  is  not  recommended  to
focus on this trait to early in a student’s writing as it may hinder the development
of a strong writer
–  Final trait (+ 1) / Presentation (handwriting, formatting, layout)

Tips  for  teaching  traits  to  primary  writers:  Help  students  to  develop  a  writer’s
vocabulary.  Look  for what  students  are  doing well  not  for mistakes.  Let writing  take
many  forms:  pictures  (illustrate  a  picture  book),  dictation,  oral  storytelling,  labeling
(models, charts, and maps), and text.


Aldeen Foundation 2008
ISNA Educational Forum 2008: Track: Curriculum & Standards
Instructor:  Asiyah Teruel
Topic: Developing Life Long Writers
Written by: Amal Sakr Elhoseiny

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