But she was struggling with how to get started and what exactly she wanted to say.“What voice in my head? “I don’t have one.”Lyse needed a sense of “ownership” over her writing, Ms. And 40 percent of those who took the ACT writing exam in the high school class of 2016 lacked the reading and writing skills necessary to complete successfully a college-level English composition class, according to the company’s data.
Poor writing is nothing new, nor is concern about it.
More than half of first-year students at Harvard failed an entrance exam in writing — in 1874.
But the Common Core State Standards, now in use in more than two-thirds of the states, were supposed to change all this.
A separate 2016 study of nearly 500 teachers in grades three through eight across the country, conducted by Gary Troia of Michigan State University and Steve Graham of Arizona State University, found that fewer than half had taken a college class that devoted significant time to the teaching of writing, while fewer than a third had taken a class solely devoted to how children learn to write.
Unsurprisingly, given their lack of preparation, only 55 percent of respondents said they enjoyed teaching the subject.“Most teachers are great readers,” Dr. “They’ve been successful in college, maybe even graduate school.The root of the problem, educators agree, is that teachers have little training in how to teach writing and are often weak or unconfident writers themselves.According to Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, a scan of course syllabuses from 2,400 teacher preparation programs turned up little evidence that the teaching of writing was being covered in a widespread or systematic way.If the student didn’t learn how to correct pronoun disagreement and missing conjunctions, by high school he could be writing phrases like this one: “Well Machines are good but they take people jobs like if they don’t know how to use it they get fired.” That was a real submission on the essay section of the ACT.“It all starts with a sentence,” Dr. Focusing on the fundamentals of grammar is one approach to teaching writing. Many educators are concerned less with sentence-level mechanics than with helping students draw inspiration from their own lives and from literature.Thirty miles away at Nassau Community College, Meredith Wanzer, a high school teacher and instructor with the Long Island Writing Project, was running a weeklong workshop attended by six teenage girls.But when you ask most teachers about their comfort with writing and their writing experiences, they don’t do very much or feel comfortable with it.”There is virulent debate about what approach is best.So-called process writing, like the lesson Lyse experienced in Long Island, emphasizes activities like brainstorming, freewriting, journaling about one’s personal experiences and peer-to-peer revision.“We need massive teacher education.”One of the largest efforts is the National Writing Project, whose nearly 200 branches train more than 100,000 teachers each summer.The organization was founded in 1974, at the height of the process-oriented era.Later, in the 1960s and 1970s, this movement took on the language of civil rights, with teachers striving to empower nonwhite and poor children by encouraging them to narrate their own lived experiences. Hochman’s strategy is radically different: a return to the basics of sentence construction, from combining fragments to fixing punctuation errors to learning how to deploy the powerful conjunctive adverbs that are common in academic writing but uncommon in speech, words like “therefore” and “nevertheless.” After all, the Snapchat generation may produce more writing than any group of teenagers before it, writing copious text messages and social media posts, but when it comes to the formal writing expected at school and work, they struggle with the mechanics of simple sentences.The Common Core has provided a much-needed “wakeup call” on the importance of rigorous writing, said Lucy M.