Everyone is familiar with the advantages gained in life when you know how to read. Without reading, we wouldn’t be able to discover new ideas, gain knowledge, or even safely drive a car. Although the benefits from reading in our society are obvious, the benefits of writing are less clear. Most of us don’t write much more than a few emails for work or a quick post on Facebook. However, did you know that consistently practicing writing not only improves your writing skills but also improves other essential skills including reading and math?
Although this idea may sound surprising, the evidence is overwhelming. Learning to effectively convey ideas on paper has a secondary benefit of increasing reading comprehension. In addition, effective writing involves ordering and structuring ideas in a logical manner, a skill that is vital in mathematics.
The power of writing was tested in 2008 by Deirdre DeAngelis, the principal of New Drop High School on Staten Island, New York. Her school was facing closure due to student’s inability to score well on standardized tests. The statistics were depressing. Approximately 82% of entering freshmen were reading below their grade level. In addition, 4 out of 10 seniors dropped out unable to pass the English and History Regents exam, a state graduation requirement. Worst of all, the school was ranked as one of the 2000 worst performing high schools in the nation. DeAngelis know that drastic steps would have to be taken in order to save the school.
Working with her faculty, she concluded that the root cause of all the problems could be traced to one thing: bad writing. They observed that one of the primary differences between a successful and failing student is that the former had the ability to convey a message through the written word while the latter did not.
The principal decided to place an intense emphasis on writing and the results were incredible. By 2009, the pass rate on the Regents exam had increased from 67% to 89% and the graduation rate jumped from 63% to 80%. By practicing the fundamentals of writing, the students managed to not only improve their writing, but improve in other subjects as well.
At Brain Chase, we believe so much in the power of writing that we’ve made it an integral part of the six-week Summer Learning Challenge. Each week, students will be given an open-ended journal prompt. Note – these are ‘journal entries,’ not ‘essays.’ It’s summertime after all, and we believe writing can be fun. Students will have an entire week to type their response, with the option of saving their work and returning later. They will then submit their writing online for review by a credentialed teacher, who will provide helpful feedback and critique, customized for the grade-level of your student. In some cases, the student may be asked to revise and resubmit their work. But as long as their effort is apparent, the journal entry will be approved. And if they’ve also kept up with the reading and math challenges, the next clue-laden video will be unlocked and they will progress toward the goal of finding the coveted Globe of Magellan.
We believe that practicing writing on a consistent basis will not only help our young people stop the summer slide, but will also prepare them for the next school year and really, the rest of their life. If you would like to learn more about Brain Chase, the Globe of Magellan treasure hunt, or the other core tenants included in our learning challenge, please visit our website today.