The opening paragraph in Teaching The Features Of Effective Writing suggests that more writing is not necessarily better writing. In today s age students are being assessed more and more on their ability to convey their knowledge across the curriculum through essays, short answers, and other various forms of writing. Composing a piece of written communication demands an understanding of the content, knowledge of the audience and the context, and the ability to use appropriate conventions for that audience and context, an idea that many students have never been taught (Bowen and Cali). In addition, many teachers are unfamiliar with the proper techniques for teaching effective writing. In North Carolina, the state now assesses writing with the Five Features of Effective Writing.
The first feature is Focus, the main idea or topic a writer is required to respond to in a writing task. Teachers instruct that if the student strays from the focus than their writing will be weakened. If the reader is confused about the subject matter, the focus will again be weakened. This feature is closely linked to the second feature of effective writing, which is Organization. Too often teachers assume students understand how to effectively organize a piece of writing. By teaching this technique to students, it will inevitably help them as well to stay on focus!
The third feature, a two-part feature, is Support and Elaboration. Support is important in strengthening the thesis of any paper and confirms the student has properly researched their focus. Elaboration aids in making the paper clearer to the audience. The writer must present his/her ideas with enough power and clarity to cause the support to be sufficient. Effective use of concrete, specific details strengthens the power of the response.
Style, the fourth feature of the group, asks students to really look at the audience they are writing for, and tailor their writing in an appropriate fashion. Skillful use of precise, purposeful vocabulary enhances the effectiveness of the composition through the use of appropriate words, phrases and descriptions that engage the audience (Bowen and Cali). This feature is closely linked with the fifth and final feature, Conventions. This focuses on usage of proper grammar, word usage, and encourages students to proofread their work.
The article then goes into the origination of The Features and explains that since 1999 several other states have adopted their own version into their own curriculum. Following this small section, the article provides several bullet points for teachers and students to review. It instructs teachers how to incorporate The Features into planning and offers suggestions to students on how to use The Features to become a better writer.
Overall, the article is well-written and very informative. The article would serve as a strong reference for educators as it was written as part of a larger academic journal for The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Additional references are available on similar topics from the same website.
Cali, Kathleen and Kim Bowen. “Teaching the features of effective writing.” 2010. Learn NC Editions. 28 November 2010 – learnnc(dot)org/lp/editions/few.