Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Topic: The "Basics" in Writing.

10-second review: Some people think the basics in writing are spelling, capitalization and naming the parts of speech. The author of this article says the basics (which he calls “fundamentals”) in writing include pre-writing, planning, first draft and re-writing.

Title: “How to Talk to a Writer, or Forward to Fundamentals in Teaching Writing.” Robert W. Blake. English Journal (November 1976), 49-55. The secondary school publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: In addition to the author’s definition of the writing process, he suggests that the “fundamentals,” not “basics,” of writing, include writing in several genres, not just exposition; the skills of writing—passive vs. active verbs, parallel structure, dangling modifiers, etc.; better sentences through practice in sentence combining; and the ability of the teacher to talk to students about their writing clearly enough to help the students improve their writing.

Comment: The author’s definition of the writing process fits all genres of writing. The author’s other fundamentals—writing in different genres, including exposition and narratives; skills; sentence combining and the ability to communicate clearly to students about their writing—are worth thinking about.

Student teachers take note: the ability to define the fundamentals of writing will impress superintendents, principals and supervisors. RayS.

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