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Privileging Student Voice

poetrypensIn his article in the most recent English Leadership Quarterly, Gary Pankiewicz argues for “privileging voice in student writing development.”

Any writing composition needs to be situated with some personal or creative expression,” he says, and goes on to outline curricular suggestions that range from reading and speaking strategies to making voice “an explicit expectation in writing rubrics.”

His plea is persuasive:

Educators who know their students’ real-world needs will provide a spirit of voice-filled creativity and wonder with consideration to social interactions in the classroom and beyond. And, this will add sustenance to a trajectory of engaged analytical skill development. To truly prepare college and career-ready writers, we must plan activities that deliberately foster thinkers—safeguarding student voice in our ambitious trajectory toward college readiness. If English teachers do not do this work, who will?

Curricular suggestions include:

Reading and Speaking Support Good Writing

  • Some students struggle with academic writing because they
    struggle with reading.
  • Turn-and-talks revolutionize writing communities.
  • Share conclusions aloud.

Introduce Writing Concepts with Familiar Topics

  • Begin writing in the genre of personal narrative.
  • Don’t let go of personal connections and reactions to core texts with prereading activities and journal writing as active processing.

Support and Scaffold

  • Make time for writing conferences.
  • Highlight the difference between paraphrasing, explaining,
    analyzing, and reflecting on relevant text citations as textual
    support.
  • Infuse technology.
  • Make voice an explicit expectation in writing rubrics.

Read Pankiewicz’s suggestions in “Privileging Voice in Student Writing Development” (English Leadership Quarterly, August 2015).