Narrowing The Gap Between Student Writing Intentions And Actions.

How do we assist young writers to narrow the gap between their writing intentions and their actions?

This remains an on-going challenge for all of us who teach writing.

Too often, the inexperienced writer signals their intention to commence a writing project yet somewhere along the writing pathway they either get distracted, overwhelmed, or just plain lost.

It is claimed, the more we articulate our plans for action, the more likely we are translate intention into action. This suggests we should be encouraging the developing writer to talk about their writing ideas. They should initially internalize their thoughts regarding writing intentions- think and rehearse before being asked to share with fellow writers.

To foster this kind of conversation around writing it would be prudent to set up opportunities for students to discuss their burgeoning ideas with partners, small groups, trusted peers, teachers. 

The young writer could be further supported by being afforded opportunities to occasionally write down their goals for the writing they have identified as important to pursue. This increases accountability and the likelihood of tasks being completed. 

Of course teachers play a pivotal part in providing support and assistance for developing writers. A teacher with a positive attitude builds trust and belief. A teacher with a willingness to demonstrate the writing behaviours they seek from their students provides a powerful model for less experienced writers to follow. 

When a teacher shows how they persist with writing tasks and follows through with stated writing intentions, young writers are given powerful reminders about the way writers must be problem solvers, if they want to achieve certain outcomes.

Providing regular opportunities for writers to check in on their writing projects is most important. Discussions with teachers and peers are integral in this process. 

Establishing such structures as check in groups, author’s circles, peer editing, strategy group instruction, and routines for student led writing conferences are all necessary in narrowing the gap between intention and action. These strategies provide much needed scaffolding for the student writer.

Add to this whole class feedback (during mini lessons and share time) and the scene is set for a writing program with multiple supports for writers.

Rather than lament that student writers are falling short with their actions as authors, reflect upon the levels of support in place to support them to follow through on their stated intentions. 

When the necessary supports are in place, engagement increases, satisfaction increases and energies are better harnessed towards quality outcomes.


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