Two heads are better…
Not many students spend a lot of time thinking about their futures or about how good writing skills can pay off down the road. They would, however, listen very closely if a future boss said, “If you learn how to write in your early years, we’ll give you a new Mercedes.” All students need is that “carrot,” yes? The problem is that many students just don’t enjoy writing. For many students, it can be very difficult. It is true, though, that being able to write well is a skill that will pay off in the future for almost everyone.
This post is sponsored by Lee Woods. Please see Hip Homeschool Moms’ full disclosure here.
One way to improve your writing is to find a listener–some brave soul who will read what you’ve written and ask a lot of questions–the kinds of questions that sometimes make you want to toss your listener out the window! That same person, however, can provide motivation for improving your writing and compliment the strengths you’ve shown in your writing.
If your listener doesn’t know what questions to ask, give him or her the following list. It’s a great start! Then give that person permission to make suggestions, ask questions, and offer constructive criticism. Sure, criticism hurts, but receiving constructive criticism is a great way to help you improve your writing!
- What are you trying to do? (describe, persuade, tell a story, etc.)
- Who is your audience? (a teacher, parent, friend, etc.)
- What tone and vocabulary are the right ones for your audience?
- What is the main idea of your writing?
- Did you include a beginning, middle, and end?
- Is your writing clear and understandable?
One of these days…
When I remember my school years, I don’t remember much about botany, algebra, or history. Those subjects weren’t very important to me. There was one subject, though, that I wish I had studied more because it would prove to be important over and over in my life. After graduating as I was looking for work, I saw an ad in the local newspaper that described just the kind of job I wanted. It was perfect! All I had to do was write a cover letter, include my resume, and send them to the address in the ad.
I read the ad again and again, drooling over every line. Well, every line except the one about the cover letter. Those two words brought back a vision of my 7th grade teacher hitting her desk with a ruler as she explained, “Today we’re going to learn how to write a cover letter because one of these days you’re going to need a job, unless of course you win the lottery. No matter what your future job happens to be, you will need to now how to write.” I learned how to write that cover letter, and I learned many other writing skills that would pay off later. Today, I don’t remember a lot of what that teacher said, but I do remember this: Good writing means better grades means better job performance. I’m just sorry it took me so long to realize that “one of these days” is always just around the corner!
Years ago my family rented a house in Newport, R.I., during a winter when my son and daughter were preschoolers. Although I thought they might be too young to sit still for an informal lesson in writing, I still decided to try. After all, I’ve always believed that when it comes time to learn the ABCs of writing, it helps to start early. My wife thought me a bit loony the day I sat the kids down in front of my homemade blackboard and demanded their attention. With chalk in hand, I wrote, “The snowman is going to melt.” I had recently made a snowman in the backyard and thought the kids could relate to a jolly image like a snowman. “This,” I said, pointing to the board, “is a sentence.” While my son leaned forward and squinted, my daughter reached up and wiped a tear from her cheek. “What’s wrong, hon?” I asked. “Please don’t let the snowman melt,” she pleaded. “Poor snowman.” I don’t think the kids learned a thing that day, but I’m sure I did (like better ways to homeschool). Today, my daughter still kids me when we drive by a snowman.
Find more fun ways to learn the art and craft of writing at www.homeschoolwriter1.com and www.middlestudentsgetit.org.