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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Why Writing Matters!

by Sophia Taborski In order to communicate at all with the outside world, people must be able to learn to write, and writing represents engagement in our digital world,  After all, how are you receiving this information right now?

More crucially, writing requires key skills, such as forming a clear overarching idea, supporting it with solid evidence, and organizing information in a coherent fashion. Those same skills are required in all walks of life, for doctors diagnosing a patient, for engineers solving software problems, and even, to use a popular example from our students, for kids persuading their parents to get them a video game, a skateboard, or pet.

Teaching writing is about more than producing a polished product: it’s about tapping into the cognitive processes of understanding, evaluating, and synthesizing information and ideas. Teaching writing is teaching thinking. In fact, it’s teaching critical thinking.
While all students can feel a sense of pride when they see their articles published, our writing teachers have cultivated a creative team spirit and an emerging sense of pride among our students who are connecting to the power of written communications.

In their later elementary and middle school years, students are bursting with ideas of all sorts.  One of our First Focus students wrote a philosophical piece questioning the purpose of human existence; another pitched a remake of the original Star Wars with John Cena as Luke Skywalker and Oprah Winfrey as Princess Leia. Regardless of the topic, students thought through their ideas and supported them.  

Nothing piques students’ interests and excitement like choosing their own topic for a research paper. 

During the research process, we brainstormed myriad topics as a group, and you can see the results for yourself.  While students were researching on their own, they became engrossed in each others’ topics. I couldn’t resist turning that exchange of ideas into a teaching moment (even as I begrudgingly redirected the students to focus on their own work).  I exclaimed “This is why you’re writing!  People want to know what you have to say!   

In addition to enthusiasm, elementary and middle school students also possess the flexibility which makes their openness and developing maturity, the best time to establish foundational writing skills.  I’ve previously taught a college freshman writing seminar.  While many of those students made insightful points and crafted astounding essays, some of them lacked the time necessary to re-learn and internalize basic organizational and reasoning skills. Elementary and middle school students, however, readily seize writing basics and release their imaginations on engaging essays.

Structured Writing provides Logical Organization
At First Focus, we teach a tried-and-true framework for writing essays.  While some may find writing to a formula stifling, a formula actually provides students with more freedom to focus on generating their own content.

Our writing teachers have embraced this effort to promote the development of written communication skills within our academic camps and after-school classes.  During this summer of 2018, we will be conducting a range of writing camps, designed for students entering the 2nd through the 8th grade. You can click on the following links to learn more about the purpose, content, schedule, and pricing of each camp: Beginning Writing, Intermediate Writing, Advanced Writing and Middle School Writing.  

Learn to Write in a Summer Camp
The one-week JumpStart Reading Camps operate from June 25 through August 10, 2018.  Students entering kindergarten have four camps to choose from, most students take two or three weeks of the progressive camps to be ready for immediate engagement in kindergarten. Students entering 1st grade have two progressive weeks of reading camp to develop a deeper level of reading skills with sight words.  

Each camp course book is designed to provide two weeks of instructional content and has different topic material for each week. Students who complete a reading camp are better prepared for the incoming grade level expectations.  The exposure to an academic program during the summer provides an opportunity to advance their skills from the end of the school year.

Students who receive a learning experience during the summer show a significantly higher level of skill retention, leading to a higher level of early engagement with the curriculum for the upcoming school year.  
For more information, please visit email us at or call 650-938-3100 from 1:00- 6:00 pm Monday - Friday.

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