In the era of e-mail, teens should learn to write the forgotten essays

July 20, 2005

Teens communicate in ways their parents didn't dream of—e-mails, instant messaging, wireless phones—but that means less time for a good, old-fashioned essay and less preparation for new test requirements.

Many students aren't used to writing more than a paragraph or two, leaving them unprepared for new SAT/ACT writing requirements. A 2003 College Board study said most schools should double the amount of time they now spend on teaching writing.

"One of the effects of e-mails and instant messaging is that today's students are more fluent in terms of writing words but they're far less familiar with other genres like the inverted pyramid or the five paragraph essay," said Anne Ruggles Gere, a University of Michigan professor of English and education and an authority on writing. "IM experience doesn't serve them very well when they have 25 minutes to write an essay on the SAT."

Gere and Virginia Commonwealth University English professor Leila Christenbury, both past presidents of the National Council of Teachers of English, joined with U-M graduate student Kelly Sassi to write "Writing on Demand: Best Practices and Strategies for Success," as a guide for teachers preparing students for the SAT/ACT and other writing tests.

Sassi, who taught high school English for several years before attending U-M, noted that so many students learn to use computers at a young age, that there's even less emphasis on old-fashioned demands like teaching good penmanship as well as writing.

The SAT's new essay requirement can be nerve-racking for today's students. Research shows most writers need three things when they write: ownership of the form and subject of their writing; feedback from other writers; and time to draft and revise. But essay tests offer none of that. So the authors focus on ways to:

• Decode writing prompts to uncover the goals and expectations of the assignment.

• Organize thoughts swiftly and use the allotted time efficiently.

• Understand how tests are scored.

The authors have workshops scheduled for Ann Arbor, New York and Houston between August and October through the National Council of English Teachers of English.

Related links:

For more on the workshops, visit: lists.ncte.org/t/592610/690201/2007/0/

For more on Gere, Sasi and Christenbury, visit: lists.ncte.org/t/592610/690201/2009/0/

For more on the book, visit: www.heinemann.com/shared/products/E00728.asp

Source: University of Michigan

Explore further: Researcher studies teachers' use of automated essay scoring software

Related Stories

Genres in writing: A new path to English language learning

April 20, 2015

Migration and globalization are placing thousands of second language learners in the classrooms of teachers who lack training in language instruction. As a result, schools face the challenge of preparing educators to foster ...

Now Skype can translate for us, why learn a language?

January 14, 2015

New technology has the habit of making certain professions redundant. Power looms put cotton workers out of job, leading to the rise of the Luddites. Word processors put an end to the typing pool. Now free, computerised translation ...

Talking to aliens

November 17, 2014

What do you say to a space alien? This question might not be the foremost puzzle in your life, but it was the subject of a lively two-day conference at California's SETI Institute this week.

Recommended for you

How bees naturally vaccinate their babies

July 31, 2015

When it comes to vaccinating their babies, bees don't have a choice—they naturally immunize their offspring against specific diseases found in their environments. And now for the first time, scientists have discovered how ...

Image: Hubble sees a dying star's final moments

July 31, 2015

A dying star's final moments are captured in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The death throes of this star may only last mere moments on a cosmological timescale, but this star's demise is still quite ...

Exoplanets 20/20: Looking back to the future

July 31, 2015

Geoff Marcy remembers the hair standing up on the back of his neck. Paul Butler remembers being dead tired. The two men had just made history: the first confirmation of a planet orbiting another star.

Binary star system precisely timed with pulsar's gamma-rays

July 31, 2015

Pulsars are rapidly rotating compact remnants born in the explosions of massive stars. They can be observed through their lighthouse-like beams of radio waves and gamma-rays. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.