Spell Out Expectations for Writers

When I was in the newspaper business, I often heard reporters ask an editor, “What do you want in this story?” Usually the answer was, “Just write the story, and we’ll fix it later.”

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When the story came in, editors would yell at reporters to go back to get more information or to get different information, which made both reporters and their sources angry. The result was frustration all around.

If adults on the job react angrily to vague directions, imagine how frustrating it is to Caitlin and Joshua when they don’t know what the teacher expects them to do in their writing assignments.

For learning disabled students and others who struggle with writing, directions for a writing assignment must be clear. The directions need to spell out:

  • what is to be done
  • how it’s to be done
  • when it’s to be done
  • the standards by which it will be evaluated

Don’t assume students will know. Spell it out—in language they can understand.

Photo credit: Folded Paper uploaded by kmg

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2 Comments

Filed under Teaching writing

2 responses to “Spell Out Expectations for Writers

  1. A

    Do you have an actual assignment sheet for us to see?

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    • Linda Aragoni

      I can give you a link to a prompt from my Bullying Begins as Words collection. It does not include actual course links, but you can see the writing prompt students see and placeholders for the course-specific material. The link is wpsample.pen.io I hope it is helpful.

      Like

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