Improving Student Writing
Teaching is an ongoing learning process. Teachers are generally keen on helping students improve their writing skills, after all they are in the business of "change". I have been teaching for over 30 years and have spent most of my teaching career asking questions about best practices. How do I go about making changes in the way my classroom is run or in the way my students behave or in the way my school is run? These are some of the questions that go through most teachers' minds. However, how many questions do I ask before I start getting some answers?
One area that has bothered me is student writing. How do I improve their writing? However, as much as I had tried, students kept making the same basic grammatical mistakes and mechanical errors. I would scream if it helped. Last year I decided to try using wikispaces and Moodle to encourage and help students improve their writing. Well, I did see students getting a bit more motivated with online writing, but but some were still making the same grammatical errors. This year, I decided to stop using the Moodle and try another wiki called Wikieducator. Furthermore, I decided to conduct an action research project and document my work to see if I could track the changes in one of my grade 11 5 point classes during the next two years. I had done an action research project in the past and found it helped me learn how to make improvements.
For those who are not familiar with the term, action research is a way for teachers to analyze the issues they may be experiencing in their classes. Action research is a way for teachers to find answers to questions on how to improve instructional design. By collecting data and analyzing the results, teachers can change the practices they use in the classroom. The principle behind action research is to plan a change, implement the change, collect the necessary information, and analyze what happens.
Finally to make life more interesting, I decided to combine literature with the action research project by connecting with a school in the US through an international book sharing project on Night by Eli Wiesel. You are invited to join me in researching how we can improve our students' writing at the wiki.