It seems that the art of writing is becoming lost which is why we need to emphasize the importance of writing in elementary school early so that students learn to love writing and understand the value of clear written communication.
The Importance of Writing in Elementary School Questioned
There is a school of thought that believes that with the rapid advent of technology, penmanship, grammar and spelling are all things of the past. After all, if you have a computer program that never misses a spelling error, why is it important to have good spelling? Likewise, if your computer checks grammar and then goes on to tell you how to fix any grammatical errors you make--why do you need good grammar?
However, English teachers everywhere are quick to point out the following:
- Good written communication is still imperative. We communicate by e-mail, we read blogs, and regardless of whether or not technology has taken away some of the need to be excellent in spelling, it still speaks volumes to receive a professional e-communication that is riddled with errors.
- Computer programs are only as good as their writers. It takes human knowledge to write programs to correct grammar and spelling.
- Computer programs still make mistakes. A spell checker can only tell if a word is misspelled. It cannot tell the difference between homophones so words that are correctly spelled but used incorrectly escape the notice of a spell checker.
It will be a long time before we see writing become obsolete. However, convincing your students that writing is important may be a different task altogether.
Making Writing Fun
Since elementary students are so far removed from having to write resumes or college admissions essays, you are unlikely to win any points trying to convince your students that writing is absolutely necessary for their future.
As a teacher, you will be more successful teaching the importance of writing in elementary school by making writing fun and making it something that is personally important to your students. They will be more motivated to write well, if it is something they want to do. With that said, here are a few ideas for making writing fun.
Oh the Places You'll Go
Writing can be exciting when it takes you all over the world. One great way to travel the world and squeeze in a little writing about your local area is through the Flat Stanley Project. Flat Stanley was a book written by Jeff Brown that described the adventures of a boy who was flattened by a bulletin board. The Flat Stanley project involves your class hosting another class' flat, and having your students write about your local area. The return is that a class will host your flat and your students can read about another area.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
No doubt that technology and writing go hand in hand. You can use technology in a variety of ways to enhance student learning and to make writing fun for your students. (And remember writing that is fun for your students, is also writing that is important to them to continue.)
- Host a class blog--Blogging is the thing to do these days and it is a great way to immediately publish a student's writing. It is amazing to see how inspired students become to write more when they see their work and byline in print.
- Publish a class newspaper--It is the rare classroom that doesn't have at least one computer. Use some class time to make a newspaper that goes home to all the parents every month.
- A class website--If you are a little technologically savvy, it's not hard for your class to publish their own website. Your school district or school may even offer hosting options for free.
Write a Letter
Letter writing is a great way to get students excited about writing, not to mention the fact that properly formatting a letter is an important skill to have. If you've not done letter writing with your class before, try tying it into something else that you're learning. For example, writing letters to the local historical society asking questions or writing letters to a state tourism board to obtain more information. Part of the fun of writing letters is receiving a response.
Making Writing Important for Your Students
Making writing important for your students means making it fun for your students. If you can sneak in the finer points of grammar, while showing them how writing is a useful tool, you will be well on your way to convincing your students that written communication is essential for them. The best part is--you may well even do it without them knowing it.