Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Timed Writing Samples

The purpose of this blog is to share interesting ideas I have found in recent American professional publications dealing with the teaching of English at all levels, elementary, secondary and college.

Topic: Two Views of Writing

Title: “Moving to the Center: Disorientation and Intention.” M Wilson and M Niemczyk. English Journal (May 2008), 34-39. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). The audience for the journal is secondary schools.

Summary: “The timed writing test demands that Sarah summon what she currently knows, as if writing is simply the act of copying what is already in her mind.”

Donald Murray: “The writer does not write down words to photograph what is in his head, he uses words to set an experiment in motion.”

Comment: Real writers, in some types of writing, memos, etc., can write it almost right the first time. However, timed writing assessments are not memos. Real writers, when the writing requires thought, prepare, draft, revise and edit. In the SAT’s 25-minute timed writing assessments, the topics demand thought. Twenty-five minutes in the SAT would be good for memos. 25 minutes is not enough time to do the preparation, drafting and revision needed for thinking and writing.

I know this. What is a practical alternative to a timed 25-minute writing assessment? RayS.

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