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Articles tagged with writing

Pen may be mighter than the sword, but not the federal budget

2576-1275491944laKRPersuasive writing, technical writing, creative writing, journalism—all have their place in education and are useful in different capacities. Yet, students across all fields of learning must develop basic writing skills in order to excel and communicate effectively.

So why then, did President Obama sign a bill to cut all federal funding to the National Writing Project earlier this month? This all-encompassing program is devoted to teacher development and strengthening writing skills across subjects for students at all grade levels.

The NWP’s 2009 annual survey reports that throughout the nation, program sites (see pages 12-15) are set up on the campuses of over 200 colleges and universities, with over 70,000 teachers serving the program’s objectives. Each year,  1. 4 million students and 130,000 teachers gain academic and professional development through the NWP.

It’s by no means a small program, and results have continuously showed that enrolled students displayed an improvement in basic writing skills by the end. In NWP’s 2010 study , about 92 percent of the NWP students surveyed across seven states showed higher increases in writing achievement than peers who had not participated in the program.

Naomi Dillon|March 16th, 2011|Categories: Governance, Policy Formation, Budgeting, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |

Writing a critical skill, as if you needed to tell us that

Weeks ago, as is increasingly the case, I was proofreading an upcoming article by one of ASBJ‘s columnists and found myself sub vocalizing words like “yes!,” “so true!,”  and “this is really helpful!” Of course, that’s the point having expert columnists — to help school board members and administrators do their jobs better.   I’m just here to add an exclamation point.

The November article, by leadership columnist Douglas B. Reeves, is about the critical importance of focusing on writing in the classroom, from kindergarten through grade 12.  We’ve all heard about the importance of reading. But, as Reeves points out, research shows that when students improve their writing, their reading competency improves, and so does their performance in other subjects.

With such a “win-win-win” proposition, you’d think school districts cross the country would be working to improve writing instruction. But unfortunately, as Reeves writes, that’s not always the case.  Because of budget cuts, some states, such as Illinois, are no longer including students’ writing in their state assessments.  As a result, “the stunning reaction of many school systems has been to de-emphasize writing,” Reeves says. “After all, if it’s not on the test, then it must not be important.”

Naomi Dillon|November 2nd, 2010|Categories: NSBA Publications, Student Achievement, American School Board Journal|Tags: , |

Writing, a lost art in today’s 21st century curriculum

1194985205336006011blocco_notes_svg_medWhen I was in 10th-grade, my teachers were sadists. Every few weeks, one of them would give me a damnable two or three-page writing assignment.

My history teacher would demand my opinion on the impact of Europe’s colonization of Africa. My English teacher wanted my impression of a Robert Frost poem.

My teacher in “art appreciation class” was a real tool, once telling the class to write a five-page paper about the purpose of ballet and how dance communicates cultural values.


Little did I know how lucky I was. Now my son is a junior, and his latest English class project involved building a model cafeteria out of Styrofoam and paper and using Photoshop to make little cartoon students playing out the scenes of William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies.”

Before that, he did a PowerPoint report for a history class that consisted of pictures and bulleted facts about Nazi Germany during World War II. And before that, he did a short video for English telling the story of Dante’s “Inferno” using toy figures.

Doesn’t anyone write anymore in high school?

Naomi Dillon|May 27th, 2010|Categories: Curriculum, Educational Research, Student Achievement, American School Board Journal|Tags: |
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