Why should I learn to write in class?

The Covid-19 crisis has disrupted student education around the world. In France, distance education imposed by captivity has thus increased the educational inequality associated with the social origin of children and adolescents. Beyond the digital divisions associated with the material condition of the equipment, differences in the use of language, orally and even more in writing, have undermined the possibility of educational continuity for children from the most popular backgrounds.

Training, Review, Practice: These distance activities, recommended by the Ministry of National Education, are possible for older students, based on general experience in the classroom with teachers, or based on parental skills in certain areas. On the other hand, in a CP class, with six-year-old students who still do not know how to read and write, how do you train to write outside the classroom when children have not mastered the basics? Especially if the parents do not read French fluently?

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The two-month captivity in the spring of 2020 reminds us of the complexity of writing and use: writing has many elements, elements, graphic, linguistic. If we want true equality between children of different socio-cultural backgrounds, these must be taught by an expert adult.

Teaching, writing requires real professional skills to support learning: the way to say and do, the way to show knowledge and approach, drawing inspiration from the field of education science, ergonomics, called “professional gestures”.

Bounce back from mistake

The digital tools provided by the Ministry of Education (digital work environment, academic mailboxes, various padlets) prevent the use of writing for some parents who have not mastered their language code or spelling standards. The use of applications such as YouTube channels or WhatsApp created for the occasion has made it possible for them to be close to their daily lives and keep the spoken language as a means of communication despite the distance.

However, there have been many obstacles to learning to write as classes have stopped gathering children who usually rub their shoulders against their walls.

One of the biggest misconceptions about school and teacher writing expectations is that too early, in the early years of learning, children should master spelling and spelling. Thus, often, captive student texts are deleted, corrected, or even rewritten by an adult before being sent to a teacher or schoolteacher. But by making the flaws disappear, we remove the right place where education should be focused and we hinder learning.

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The way to deal with errors is actually a basic professional gesture that works for students to learn. Learning to write a text requires mistakes, thanks to an adult for understanding the reasons for failure who will explain ways to overcome obstacles, ways to get there: Do you have to pronounce the word to be able to write it? Do you know it by heart? Does what is written allow third party readers to understand what we want to publish? What is correct, incomplete or incorrect in product testing?

The child needs to believe deeply about the importance of a school work in order to sustain his efforts.

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If some forget it, captivity reminds us of the obvious: the classroom is a place where individuals, teachers, and students share space, equipment, bodies, and objects. Entering the written world is characterized by learning to use the means of writing and its tools: notebooks, sheets, books, lines, paper or colored pencils, pens.

In class, the six-year-old controls this new dictionary, supported by the professional gestures of the teacher, who will help to find the right notebook, open the right page, break the line, then correct the instructions, make sure the pencil is sharpened or the pen sharpened. The right color.

The co-presence of the corpse makes it possible to teach the best how to trace a letter, observe the hand that is tracing the adult, and listen to verbal cues. Even with audio and video support, training sessions yield different results, depending on the support provided by families, depending on the degree of utility of the student’s class practice, which has not yet been created for everyone throughout the year.

B letter writing training using a video support: Alice on the left and Dojan on the right.
Contributed by the author

Surrounded by her peers and teachers, the student slowly begins to speak the language of a school, she can combine other tools.

How do you remember that the letters C and H that are placed side by side are pronounced like “cat”? On the walls of the CP class, acoustic displays are visual materials that allow a drawing of “cat” to be associated with the two letters CH, which are drawn on the script and the curse and make clear the teacher’s oral and body language. How to use them, any point by word and gesture, which focuses attention.

With peers, learn from peers

One of the school’s greatest assets is being able to learn with many other people of the same age. Classmates have a fundamental role to play in learning to write, as we write for reading. Relationships with knowledge are symmetrical with classmates, each grouping, tracing, and inevitably making mistakes, which makes it possible to learn from errors by discrediting and commenting, arguing, and proposing solutions. It is still necessary to give birth to this exchange of teachers keeping in view the direction of knowledge.

Research conducted in pedagogy shows the importance of “feedback” in the learning process of the complex and extremely powerful cultural tool that is being written. How can a child create a landmark, place himself in the long-term usefulness of this tool, be sure of what he already knows to rely on it to conquer writing? Language responses, verbal or physical but always clear, are professional gestures that teachers develop in their own practice and develop similarly in their students. Workshops and writing sites allow learning for students ages 10 to 12.

Handwriting is not only a cultural practice, it is also a key tool in learning to read.

Read more: “Extenso”: Why are we still learning to write by hand?

However, even from first grade, words or short texts produced by children can be given to classmates to read: the class tries to understand the ideas, what is written and what is not readable, not explainable, not comprehensible. This instrument for teaching writing and proofreading, combined with the teacher’s professional gestures, is part of the tradition of educator Celestine Freinet, who saw education as a means of liberation and provided a central place for students to write.

The child writer can thus keep his writing away, learn to read again by looking at his essay through the eyes of others. He admits his mistakes and his success among others. When the child does not do this or does not do it consciously, it is up to the teacher to point it out, to explain it. All of these oral languages, created around children’s writing, are pushing and gradually becoming more sure, it is the source of learning and evolution.

Teaching writing in all complexities

Because the difficulty of teaching to read or write lies in the complexity of writing. This complication is obvious to adults trying to write to a six-year-old child: at that age, the child does not always know how to trace the letters in the right direction, linking them to each other.

Sometimes he still doesn’t hold his pen well, not knowing what to do if there is no more space in the line. He did not always understand the principle of the alphabet, the fact that every word that one utters can be translated by one or more letters. He knows even less that many words, in French, cannot be written by listening to the words it is composed, because they are so irregular: one may hear “caravan” to write it, but not “today”, which you will have. To know by heart

Read more: Why learning to write is so complicated for children

Some children simply do not dare to write because they do not yet know how to write, or their parents never do. Some people write without realizing that their writing does not answer the question asked, thus keeping themselves “off topic”.

The role of the teacher is to propose a progression in the sum of knowledge thus mastered, whether they are related to graphic, semantic or emotional elements. It provides a place where children can co-construct knowledge, where writing is not a barrier or even a concern for anyone else but a means of expression and liberation that will make every child a reflective and well-rounded person.

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