Why we use writing to teach writing
An email question from Lisa:
“I love your curriculum but really do not like the Format for the online classes. Please look into live Online instruction. Most students are not going to Read through all the post of others in the class. This Really doesn’t give the group interaction live Instruction does.”
My response, in case you are wondering the same things:
Thanks for your feedback. We welcome it! I’d like to explain to you a bit about our style of instruction. It’s a deliberate choice on my part, not an accident, not because I haven’t “updated” to the current style of online instruction. In fact, what we do mirrors what colleges offer in Blackboard, Coursera, and Canvas. It is my belief that reading and writing create the best writers, and that lecture (while it can be enjoyable and even a short cut at times in explanations given) is not as effective in growing writers.
We’ve taught our online classes using this technique for 15 years. We’ve taught more than 15,000 students worldwide. It’s a deliberate decision based on pedagogy. Students are trained to read, understand, interpret, and apply what they read to their writing. All the interaction in our classroom is reading and writing—reading feeds writing and enables growth and development that lecture cannot/does not impart. Even the questions students ask are written and the responses are written. This helps writing growth in the following ways:
- Students learn to clarify their thoughts in the written word, and have a record of those thoughts as they develop so that the words they create don’t “vanish” into the thin air of spoken language, but remain visible to the student for continued reference.
- Students read the assignments and processes, which gives them vocabulary that will become useful in their own writing. They are able to scroll back through, re-read, and assimilate the language, structure, and ideas from the written word. Writing is necessarily just enough different from speech that it is of enormous help to read rather than listen.
- Reading skill (the ability to analyze and process meaning and content from the written word) is the key skill in writing development. No other process has been more strongly linked to writing growth than reading.
We’ve discovered that our students do, in fact, read most of the posts (some can’t get enough of them—they read and reread!). What happens is that our students wade into the waters of writing gently. They are not distracted by hairstyles, tone of voice, personality, and their own fatigue or boredom or hunger. They come to the classroom when they are ready to concentrate and read and reread if they need to.
They have ample time to form their thoughts and consider what they are reading. There’s no “pop question” type pressure to respond in the moment over audio-visual equipment. They have ample access to the instructor for her feedback which is carefully crafted and thoughtfully given.
I’ve taught at the university level, and in many in-person contexts for writing (with homeschoolers). I am never as satisfied with the writing growth in those class environments as I am with my online classes. We use reading and writing to teach reading and writing. it works.
I hope you’ll try us!
You can still sign up for fall classes now!
Image by Brave Writer mom, Renee (cc)