The eight Writing Skills are what good writers use consistently and purposefully. These skills need to be taught directly to students and put into practice, with coaching and feedback provided by the teacher. By making these skills visible and explicit throughout the writing process, teachers and students can have more meaningful and focused conversations about writing.
A growing body of literature describes the need for students to not only learn to write, but also to write to learn. The process of putting thoughts on paper helps students build comprehension and construct meaning. Direct instruction of the eight Writing Skills should occur not only in the Language Arts class, but also in the content areas (Science, Math, Social Studies, Fine Arts, etc.) to deepen students’ understanding of subject matter and enhance their ability to demonstrate their knowledge.
Writing Skill 1: “I generate ideas in a variety of ways.”
Good writers draw inspiration for writing from a variety of sources. To generate many ideas, they experiment with different strategies and processes, such as imagination, research, background knowledge, personal experience, discussion, artifacts and visual aids.
Writing Skill 2: “I organize my ideas based on my purpose for writing.”
Good writers are aware of a variety of purposes for writing (e.g. to tell, to describe, to explain, to persuade, to entertain, to inform). They are also cognizant of the audience for whom they are writing (e.g. family, class, adults, teacher, best friend). They choose an appropriate form to express their ideas (e.g. report poem, letter, essay, story).
Writing Skill 3: “I use a variety of sentence lengths and patterns.”
Good writers know how to use, and can competently manipulate, a variety of sentence structures purposefully in their writing. They use simple, compound, and complex sentence types to convey meaning and create effect. These sentence types may include statements, questions, exclamations and dialogue.
Writing Skill 4: “I write so my thoughts flow smoothly and are easy to read.”
Good writers ensure that events proceed logically and are easy for the reader to follow. They experiment with the sequencing of their ideas, develop a broad repertoire of transitional words and phrases and include effective examples and details to support their purpose.
Writing Skill 5: “I carefully choose the most effective words to express my ideas.”
Good writers ensure that they have chosen the most effective words to make their meaning precise, to evoke the desired emotional response and to create visual images for the reader.
Writing Skill 6: “I choose the tone and point of view that suit my writing purpose.”
Good writers match the tone of their writing to their audience and purpose for writing, which allows the reader to experience more fully the writer’s point of view.
Writing Skill 7: “I use my personal style to make my writing unique.”
Good writers leave an impression on their audience. They play with technique and literacy devices to develop their individual writing style.
Writing Skill 8: “I re-read, reflect, revise and edit.”
Good writers consistently read over their written work and look for ways to make it better, which may include changing, adding, deleting, rephrasing and rearranging words, sentences and ideas. The focus is to make meaning clear for the reader. After all aspects of communication of meaning are addressed, then conventions of writing (spelling, punctuation, capitals and grammar) are corrected when a text is carried through the writing process to publication.