Term Paper: High School Improving the Writing Skills

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¶ … High School

Improving the Writing Skills of High School Students by Using Creative Teaching Method

The purpose of this paper is to examine what creative teaching method may improve the writing skills of High School students. Many educators are concerned over the standardized scores of High School students today. More so now than ever there is a trend of decline in student performance, and increasing numbers of educators are attempting to re-evaluate their approach to learning to better motivate students and to engage them in and outside of the classroom. The more student's are able to learn and appreciate what education has to offer them, the more likely they are to succeed in their lives and careers when they graduate.

Many studies have focused on various creative learning approaches for disabled students, for students that have English as a second language, and for young or middle age classrooms. Relatively little attention has been paid to older students, especially high school students. The researcher hypothesizes that creative learning methods will prove just as beneficial for High School students as they do for other students, and that it is more imperative to help students at the High School level so they are better prepared to enter the workforce.

Far too many employers today complain that students they hire after graduation lack the common sense skills they need to succeed in the real work. Enhancement of writing skills among High School students however, may change this philosophy and improve the odds that High School students will graduate and move onto a successful career or pursue higher learning at the collegiate level.

Creative Methods That Improve Learning and Writing Skills

There are many methods that may enable better writing among students; these include metacognitive, affective, visualization, reciprocal teaching, writing about writing, recursive, drama, art, and peer-review to name a few. The researcher will show using an adapted annotative approach how students can increase their writing skills by using the many creative methods introduced by teachers in the classroom. Each of these methods are explained by information provided through articles printed by researchers that have worked directly with teachers and students who have learned how to use new methods for learning in a productive manner.

The first article reviewed is one that discusses the idea of reciprocal learning, where the teacher and the student learn in the classroom, so that learning becomes a joint effort rather than a teacher-directed effort alone. While there is much research based on the traditional style of teaching, most of it suggests that students are no longer interested in the lecture style or format of teaching. That is one reason researchers are investigating approaches including the reciprocal learning approach.

Slater and Horstman address the creative technique of reciprocal teaching in their work, School Students: The Case for Reciprocal Teaching. The findings of this study are relative because they provide information about reciprocal teaching that shows it can be an "optimal choice for teaching reading and writing." The purpose or objective of this review is to learn how new and creative methods of learning can enhance writing skills. Because this study focuses exactly on reading and writing skills, it is ideal for the purposes of this paper.

The authors agree that reciprocal learning and other creative methods are ideal for learning at any level of education, stating reciprocal learning is a form of teaching that allows students the opportunity to learn what questions they must ask to understand reading material, what questions are necessary to clarify issues, and how to summarize the information gathered during reading. The problem according to the authors, in times of old is that teachers did not actually teach students how to write. Rather, they would provide students with an assignment, and specific chapters or sections of books to read, and then students were to fulfill assignments and turn in for grading. This outdated method of learning does not inspire higher learning because it is seldom embraced by diverse students looking for new opportunities to express themselves as individuals in the classroom.

Reciprocal teaching would be of great interest to High School students because they are at an age where they want to have some control over the material that they learn and engage in during classroom time. Students in High School are either preparing to enter the workforce or preparing for college. Either way, they want to participate in school in a way that will allow them to succeed, while enhancing their reading and writing abilities at the same time.

Reciprocal learning and teaching can do this. Reciprocal Teaching according to the researchers, even goes as far as allowing students an opportunity to "predict future text content" meaning students can provide their own unique hypotheses about what may or may not work in the future based on the information gathered from their studies. As students do this, they gain skills they can later use to predict what choices will benefit them or in the case of students that work in the field after High School, what choices they can make to better their career outlook. Reading and writing comprehension skills are the skills that are most outdated if one looks at traditional learning methods. This is one reason reciprocal teaching is gaining so much interest.

The baseline used to research this method and measure improvement involve empirically validated learning strategies which emphasize cognitive instruction and strategies, meaning the teachers and students must work together to think about the learning process and then measure outcomes as a team rather than as individuals. According to the authors, the supporting strategies used with reciprocal teaching include "questioning, clarifying, summarizing and predicting" as stated previous. This according to the researchers' provides a "ladder" of sorts the student must climb to find the final result.

The obstacles this method may present that current teachers' may have to overcome include convincing educational institutions that reciprocal learning can enable a facility to meet the national and state learning goals. Today, far too many principals in grade school on up are concerned with meeting state standards rather than focusing on the actual methods they should address to improve reading and writing skills. If students master the art of writing, their scores in theory on any standardized test should improve, because the student will have more ability to comprehend the material presented to them, and more opportunities to evaluate the context of material and apply it to real life situations.

Getting principals to understand this, and getting government agents to agree to creative methods of learning however, may still prove difficult especially if not all schools are adopting similar approaches to learning. It may also be difficult in some urban areas where teachers are scarce and school environments may be volatile, which is not an optimal environment in which to teach students to reciprocate learning. Some schools located in low socio-economic areas may also not have access to the same instruments other teachers might that would influence their ability to implement this type of program. The authors also caution that reciprocal teaching "assumes" that all members are willing participants and that students will at some point "internalize use of the four supporting strategies practiced" which may or may not prove true. If students are not willing to learn, then teachers will face an uphill battle if they don't have the support of administrators in the education department to encourage this new method of enhancing writing skills even among troubled students or low-income areas. The good thing about reciprocal teaching is that it does not involve the use of technology or other expensive equipment. All it requires are texts, teachers and students that are willing to embrace new methods of learning.

Reciprocal learning is not the only creative learning approach that is facilitating better outcomes in schools, and may be of value to High School students. In this researcher analysis it is given the most attention however, because there is so much data that supports the use of reciprocal teaching to enhance reading and writing comprehension and other skills. There are however, other programs that are just as effective or marginally effective in enhancing the writing skills of students, and these types of programs can also be implemented at the High School level.

In the article, "What's Right with Writing?" Rief explores the creative approach to learning known as "writing about writing." Writing about Writing is an interesting approach and also a controversial approach because it may be interpreted in many ways. For example, Rief notes that some students or professionals may view this as a journaling process, or a learning process that allows students to learn and enhances their writing skills by encouraging them to self-express when evaluating reading materials. This may happen many ways, through documentation and journaling for example. However, the author is quick to point out that this approach is also very distinct because it is the one approach that requires teachers and students ask questions during the learning process… [END OF PREVIEW]

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