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Writing and Reading ~ The Dynamic Relationship Teachers Must Understand

As a writer, I have always been fascinated by the craft and composition. The cognitive and psychological aspects of the writer's experience areas unique as the individual. In fact, this curiosity is one of the most significant reasons I became a reading/writing specialist after teaching elementary and middle grade writers for many years. I wanted to ensure ALL of my students could learn to write and to do that, they must learn to read and use rich language and make connections with ideas and one another. Writing is connective tissue. It provides a bridge from one person to another, between reader and writer, between teacher and student, student and student.

What you see on the right is an example of my own writing at age 4. I never imagined a world where I wasn't a writer. I had something to say and wanted someone to read it. As a shy, introverted young child, I knew my words were safe on the page. Growing older meant sharing writing in the school newspaper and contests. Writing and reading had become woven into my identity. It wasn't until I became an educator and taught students who were disconnected from their literacy, struggled to put words on the page, avoided reading, that I realized the gravity of challenges for those who didn't have the same experience as I did. Knowing I would be a significant influence in the future of their literacy, I studied further to become a reading/writing specialist to deconstruct writing instruction and the writers' experiences more deeply.

Starting with Questions

How does one learn to organize and encode their thoughts? That was a primary question for my own research. What must a writer know to be able to compose writing of various types? What role do reading skills play in willingness and ability to write? How can teachers develop students' writing ability and skill while inspiring passion for written communication?

In this column, I'd like to take you through the journey as a teacher and as a student of the pedagogy in the craft of writing. Having taught students of all backgrounds, dispositions, and skills, I have come to understand that writing is ironically and simultaneously complex and simple. When we understand the topography of a writer's literacy, we can approach the instruction flexibly. When we design contexts in our classrooms that allow for us to see the limits of what they know and can do in reading and writing, we create opportunities to better know and understand our students.

Let's take this journey together, beginning with our youngest writers next week.


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