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Express yourself - Writing Skills for High School PDF  | Print |  E-mail
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Monday, 19 March 2012 01:30

Express yourself - Writing Skills for High School

1. Introduction:
Human beings communicate in four ways. We listen, speak, read, and write. When you were a baby the ?rst thing you did was listen to the world around you. You recognized voices; you were startled by noises; you were soothed by music. Then you began to imitate the sounds you heard and you experimented by creating your own sounds. You learned that crying brought attention, words identi?ed things, and that linking words together made meaning. Then you learned that symbols on a page held unique meaning, and you learned to read. The last of the four ways you learned to communicate was through writing, and the very formal transference of words to paper was probably initiated in school, as early as kindergarten.

Now, as adults, even though you can say with con?dence that you know “how” to listen, speak, read, and write, you also know that simply knowing how doesn’t mean you always do any one of the four communication strands well. Have you ever “listened” to a lecture and not been able to remember one thing you heard? Have you ever “read” a page or two and had to read it all over again because you didn’t concentrate? Have you ever “spoken” and then had to explain something twice because you weren’t clear the ?rst time? Have you ever “written” an exam or a paper or even a note, to ?nd you needed some serious help making yourself understood? If you were ever in any of these situations, you were not alone.

Effective communication requires skill—just like mastering a sport, playing an instrument, dancing, cooking, or woodcarving. Communicating well demands that you learn the rules and practice a lot. Now there are many folks out there who get along just ?ne with basic communication skills, and this book is not for them. This book is for those who want to become more effective at communicating their thoughts and ideas, speci?cally as writers.

Unlike listening, speaking, and reading, writing is the way we make our thinking visible to the world. Without committing our ideas to paper, our thinking remains invisible, locked in our heads. This is probably a good thing if we are confused or without information. Who would want to put a foolish, illogical, misinformed mind on display for the public? But in today’s world of high stakes testing, writing has become the one tried and true measure of your thinking, and everyone wants to see it. So, if you try to avoid writing, this book is dedicated to you.

2. How to use this book
Express yourself - Writing Skills for High School  - “High stakes testing” is a phrase that has been captured in the newspapers and has students, parents, and teachers very concerned. Simply de?ned, high stakes tests are those that have very serious consequences. For example, you are likely to discover that you cannot earn a high school diploma in your state unless you pass certain exit exams. Without that high school diploma, the doors to higher education are locked; entry to certain employment is closed; a career in the military might be impossible. What ties high stakes testing to this book is that all of the tests require you to demonstrate your learning by writing what you know in complete sentences. In doing so, you provide a logical pattern of organization that follows the conventions of standard written English. The days of the multiple-choice tests are gone. Testing now wants you to show not just what you may know but how you know it and how you can apply your knowledge and information. In short, today’s tests demand that you write.

This book is organized around the four major purposes for writing which drive most of the instruc-
tion and all of the testing that you experience in high school and college. The four purposes are:

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