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Bring Back the Third R

Creative Writing ClipArt.jpg
Sooner or later, in school and/or at work, students' writing skills will be put to the test. And from what I've seen the past few years, a lot of them are going to fail. One reason for this is that schools have been putting little or no emphasis on writing--an inevitable response to having tons of pressure on them to improve students' math and reading skills (make that scores), but no pressure to improve their writing skills. It was a given that No Child Left Behind would leave behind art, music, foreign language, physical education, social studies, and science. But writing too? Forget about the three Rs--at many schools, there are now only two.

Ironically, this response not only shortchanges students with respect to writing, but also with respect to reading. This according to Writing to Read, a Carnegie Corporation report released earlier this year by the Alliance for Excellent Education, which finds that writing is an often-overlooked tool for improving reading skills. And my experience in recent years bears this out--i.e., students whose schools have stressed writing in their curriculum have achieved greater reading gains than those of their peers at schools where writing has been, well, written off.

The Carnegie report also presents three writing instructional practices that enhance students' reading:

1. Have students write about the texts they read
2. Teach students the writing skills and processes that go into creating text
3. Increase how much students write

Check out the report, especially if you've been neglecting writing lately. And bring back the third R!


Image provided by Phillip Martin with permission

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