Language Arts with Lyn Stone (St Monica's Wodonga)

Interleaving Writing

And so we have it. The end of our Language Arts rainbow. The pot of gold is made of hundreds of small elements, woven together to build knowledge.

Now that you’re fully aware of the myriad micro-factors that develop a student’s interaction with the printed word, I’m sure you’ll join me in expressing a sense of wonder that we ever master it at all.

The final thing that I would beg you to consider is this:

Every time a child writes anything, they are investing an inordinate amount of energy in the task. Writing is the nourishment of knowledge. Make sure that what they write leans towards quality, not quantity. You cannot feed a child on junk (e.g. “what I did on the weekend” and constant narratives). You cannot nourish a child properly with quantity of food, only quality.

Some tips to bring language arts alive in your classroom

  • Whatever you are studying, being a subject for a day, a week, a term, a semester or a year, let your students write about it.
  • Try not to have decontextualised sentences for the sake of practice take over.
  • Interleave writing throughout every activity and subject.
  • Do not differentiate the content, only the complexity.
  • Ask for quality and the quantity will take care of itself.
  • Love and cherish scaffolding and make it an individual choice not to use it.
  • If you are going to focus on narratives, please teach how to use speech marks.
  • Allow free choice of writing implements and do not hold one type of implement above another (unless it’s fountain pens, fountain pens rule!).
  • Study grammar and morphology together and have high expectations of children’s ability to look up and understand words.

What can be said with certainty, is that all studnts, no matter their intellectual/neurological profile, benefit from high quality, systematic, explicit language arts instruction over time.

From the phonemic, to the graphemic, to the orthographic, to the morphological, the the lexical, to the semantic, to the syntactic components of the writing system, a child whose school approaches each component consistently, systematically, and with intellectual honesty, stands a much higher chance of enjoying, and even excelling at writing than a child whose language arts development has been inconsistent, random and linguistically inaccurate.

Good luck!

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