4 Tips for Non-English Educators Using the Writing Process

guest written by Kimberly Joki of Grammarly.

That writing is a necessary professional and life skill is universally accepted.  Interdisciplinary approaches to teaching writing are key to giving our students the necessary experience to grow into confident writers. However, despite increased writing-education efforts, many students are entering into and graduating from university with weak writing skills or are anxious and unsure of their writing abilities.

Reading Wim Coleman’s guest post  about incorporating story into the education of all subjects did two things.  First, it reminded me of my personal education experience, and how writing was creatively integrated into my history and music classes but glaringly absent in my math and science courses.  Second, it forced me to think about why writing is not taught more often across disciplines.   My conclusion? Basically, that teaching and including writing in a non-English subject is uncomfortable territory. Teachers avoid it. This article is aimed at giving some simple tips for successfully integrating writing of all genres into all subjects.

1. Know (and Use) the Writing Process

This may seem painfully obvious to some, but if you don’t have a writing background you may be unfamiliar with the writing process.  Successfully using writing as an education tool requires more than simply throwing a prompt or task out to be completed.  For all writing tasks, students should be guided through the process, not just asked for some product.

The writing process is composed of the following writing stages:

1) Pre-writing (The Thinking Stage): This is the stage when writers should brainstorm, decide on a topic, begin researching, and loosely organize their thoughts.

2) Drafting (The Writing Stage): This is the stage when all the ideas from the first stage are roughly fleshed out in writing.  Writers should begin sharing their writing with others as well as giving and receiving feedback.  For more assistance on stages 1 and 2, consider visiting Grammarly Handbook’s recommendation on Planning for Writing.

3) Revising (The Improvement Stage): Now, writers should be rereading, reorganizing, filling in gaps and, overall, improving the writing.  This stage often includes peer consultations and rewrites. The changes at this stage are relatively large.

4) Proofreading (The Housekeeping or Correcting Stage): At this point, writers should have all their ideas clearly organized and laid out.  The writing should be basically done.  Now, writers need to correct grammar, sentence, and other writing errors.  Students can help each other to edit their work.  Grammarly.com offers a number of resources that help students at this point in the writing process. If you want more information about stages 3 and 4, see Grammarly Handbook’s recommendations for Revising and Editing.

5) Publishing (The Presentation Stage): This is the final stage when writers are free to share the finished product. Get creative here. Presentation may include submitting the writing for a class book or to a class blog.

Now that you know what the writing process is, try using it — and not just with your students. Practice what you preach.  The more you use the process, the more comfortable and creative you’ll get with it.

2. Make the Purpose of Writing Clear and Concise

One of the most important aspects of using writing effectively in your classroom is making sure that your students (and you) are very confident about how writing is relevant to your subject and to the real-world application of your subject.  This may require some consideration.  But all subjects have wonderful and inspiring examples of writing within the field. Try focusing on how writing helps to communicate ideas and what role writing has had in the development of the subject as a field of study.  In addition, this may translate well into a great writing introduction. Have a class discussion and see what your students think about writing in relation to your subject.

3. Make Partnerships

Don’t go it alone!  Look for people and groups who are willing to work with and help you. This goes for teachers and students. Consider working with colleagues or other classrooms to integrate writing into your learning environment. For example, organize peer meetings between classrooms working on similar topics. These could be in the same building, same district, or done remotely using Skype or other conferencing programs.  Also, take opportunities to collaborate with other teachers and departments.  I was lucky to have a great experience in high school when studying World War II and the Holocaust.  My History, English, and Art teachers worked together to complement one another on the unit. The benefits of this approach aren’t limited only to the students, but it also allows teachers to share resources and rely on another.

4. Create a Personal Resource Library

And, finally, create your own resource library drawing upon the experiences of others in your subject who have included writing in their approach.  Don’t forget to include what has worked best for you in teaching writing.  In your library, you can include pieces of inspiration, track best practices, and include details about tools that have been helpful for you.  Consider sharing your resource library online to make it more collaborative.

Knowing the writing process, making writing relevant, partnering up, and tracking experiences will help you use writing to fulfill curriculum requirements and improve student writing skills and confidence.

If you have successfully integrated writing into your curriculum, what are your experiences, tips, and tricks?

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About the author: Kimberly D. Joki is the Community Manager for Grammarly.com and Grammarly@EDU, the world’s most accurate grammar and writing checker.  Kimberly has experience as a university writing consultant and as an ESL educator.
2 Responses to 4 Tips for Non-English Educators Using the Writing Process
  1. ProfessorEpi

    1. Know the writing process, 4. Proofreading, first sentence: their not there

  2. John

    Good catch, Prof!

    I guess I need to slow down a bit when I edit, huh?

    Thanks for looking out!

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