By Matt Robinson MEd, MAT
As a child (growing up with two English teachers as parents), I had a pretty easy time writing. Most of the time, I would get an assignment and sit down as soon as possible to take care of it. Usually, I could just start writing and come up with enough material to complete the assignment. As I got older and the projects became more complicated and involved, I began to find myself coming up short – both in terms of pages and ideas. I needed to find a system that would allow me to make sure I had sufficient material to produce the paper as assigned before I began it in earnest. I wanted to avoid wasting hours writing, only to have to start all over again with a new topic that might (or might not) work.
Fortunately, I came upon the Writing Process (WP is capitalized as it is the title of a particular system and not just a process to write). By engaging the WP and its stepwise, orderly approach, I saved hours of work. I built even greater confidence in my writing abilities! Once again, I had the facility of writing that I had so long enjoyed in elementary school. My high school and college experience improved exponentially – both in terms of my writing and my stress levels and enjoyment of my academic and extra-curricular pursuits.
Eventually, I would become so enamored with and reliant on the WP that I used it as the topic of a research paper when I was getting my second Masters degree in education. While writing this paper, I came to realize that the WP was not only useful to native English speakers but was, in fact, even more so for English language learners. It supported the process of writing the paper (i.e., the how). It encouraged writers to spend more time and energy to focus on their topic and their use of language (i.e., the “what”).
Armed with this assistance, I began to teach writing in various Boston public high schools, including the vaunted Boston Latin School (the oldest public school in the nation) and some that were deemed turnaround schools (i.e., low-performing schools that needed expert educators to help turn the tide). Many of my classes were made up of a large number of new immigrants and non-native speakers. They took to the WP like bees to honey. All of whom saw dramatic improvement not only in their grades but in their respective senses of mastery and accomplishment (which many had explicitly admitted to not having felt before). These positive trends continued throughout my years of serving as an adjunct professor at many Boston-area colleges and universities. This included some professional schools where writing was not seen as the primary focus. The students (many of whom were non-native immigrant speakers) were still required to produce complicated papers. Some of these students were being introduced to grammar simultaneously, as they were asked to write research papers. I often metaphorically marveled (and still do!) at how they were building the car while driving it!
When I was invited to teach for KnowledgeAvatars, the first course I recommended was my Writing Process course. It has often been incorporated as part of larger classes that deal with specific writing forms (e.g., research, analysis, etc.). It can be used with any form of formal writing. I am offering it as a prerequisite mini-course to engage and learn and adopt the WP. I then use it immediately in all subsequent courses and assignments.
Writing Process sessions start weekly. Get details here.
I hope that you will join me in learning the vast benefits of the WP!