In Strictures and creativity: the five-paragraph essay from Blue Skunk Blog, Doug Johnson shares,
I learned to write and taught writing myself using the five-paragraph essay as a means of structuring writing.
As I read this I thought about my own writing and how I learned over the years. Most of it was trial and error because teachers had their own requirements.
Of course I knew that I had to begin with an opening statement, details, and closing statement but there were a lot of different extras that each teacher expected. Some teachers expected so many paragraphs or sentences or words but didn’t always tell me. They assumed that we knew what they wanted. This resulted in lower grades than I liked until I learned what they wanted. If I knew what was expected by each teacher, I believe my grades would have been higher and I would have felt more successful in classes that required writing.
Many times I will have my students write about a topic and expect them to write well but maybe these students were taught how to write in different ways. Sometimes students who are in classes where the teacher doesn’t care too much about the writing procedure may write carelessly and get away with it. Bad habits are hard to break. Maybe the students learned how to write well but if they don’t practice the skill, they forget a lot. Maybe other teachers do not expect the same level that I do so students get away with poor writing and it becomes their standard writing procedure.
The next writing assignment I give, I will give more detailed expectations. This might help the students be more successful with their writing and make it easier for me to read their writing.
Some of my requirements will include:
· Name (I can’t tell you how many papers I get with no names on it)
· Topic/Title (It helps get my mind in the right frame of what to expect)
· Opening statement
· Closing statement
· Correct grammar (Use the grammar check on the word processor if needed)
· Correct spelling (Use the spellcheck on the word processor if needed)
· Number of paragraphs/sentences/words
· Details must support the opening statement
· Closing statement must summarize the paragraph.
· Overall meaning must make sense (You wouldn’t believe how many times I wish I had said this!)
· Proofread work. (I confess to not doing this as often as I should and it should be done ALL of the time.)
What do you require when you have students turn in a writing assignment? Please share.