When thinking back to the writing activities and exercises I did with my fifth grade students, there are many core principles of writing that I value and believe are important for children as they write. First I feel that students should not be left to feel their way through a writing activity. I feel that directions such as format, audience, etc should be clear from the teacher. Examples of the writing task, both strong and weaker examples are helpful to students to understand what their end goal is, and what expectations are set for them. Although rubrics are used, and should be presented to the students, opinions on good writing may still vary between students and teacher.
In an online class discussion, my classmates and I talked about freedom children should have in their writing. This freedom is also a huge belief of mine. Although the children should be guided, as I stated previously, I feel that students discover how they learn and about themselves when they are allowed freedom in their learning. Freedoms such as topic, genre, and format can all be left to the student in many writing pieces. This may take creativity and more planning on the teachers' part, but it is something that can be done.
Another principle I feel strongly about is brainstorming as a class. This is a great way to get ideas flowing. I believe planning as a class builds students' confidence in their writing. Students are able to talk with one another to build thoughts and learn from each other. Teacher guidance can push students' ideas further to lead to greater writing pieces.
In order for the students to feel confident, I believe students must also have adequate time to complete their written pieces. This can be time in class as well as adequate time to complete the assignment out of school. Teachers should be in tune with their students writing as far as pacing and quality. Steps should be in place to guide students, but as we talked about in class, the writing process does not have a linear set of steps. Students need to be encouraged to spend quality time with their writing piece. I feel if this is encouraged, they will in turn become more proud of their completed work.
Conferencing is a core principle that I value strongly. I feel that students should get adequate encouragement from their teacher on their written work. This is a time for teachers to encourage individual students and push them to their personal best. One on one time is extremely valuable to students, especially when it comes to their own writing. Their personal work is talked about and improved in just a short amount of time. When students' walk away from a teacher conference they should be enthused about their work and making it stronger.
In all, I feel students should have freedom in their writing, whole class brainstorming, guidance and examples from teachers, as well as one on one conferences with the students to make improve their writing skills as a whole.