The core aim of implementing teaching skills lies in the improvement of the performance of students. Linking theory to classroom practice allows a teacher to improve teaching and learning in the classroom (Department of Education and Training, 2000). Improving teaching and learning in literacy strand allows a learner to develop the skills to interpret and develop texts accurately, appropriately, with efficacy, and fluency (De La Paz, 2001). These skills enable students to learn in and out of the school environment while participating in life in general. Improving literacy skills assists students in creating all types of texts that encompass everyday language and experiences (De La Paz & Graham, 2002). Given that writing is one of the literacy skills, this research will explore various teaching and pedagogical approaches that link theory to classroom practices with the aim of improving students’ writing outcomes. To explore this, the research will dwell into the eight principles of an effective teacher in literacy skills, teacher-writing styles and the integration of writing, reading, listening, interaction, technology, and viewing skills.
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This paper recognizes that teachers need to improve students’ writing skills since they are essential in the development of the students’ literacy skills. The main aim of linking theory to practice is to assist students’ apply knowledge gained from basic reading skills to create written texts that are clear and have authority. The second reason for finding links between theory and practice is the realization that writing skills give the learner ability to direct their attention to grammatical features. It is for this reason, that this paper finds practices like freewriting, familiarization, controlled, and guided writing useful in teaching students’ vocabulary and syntactic patterns. A student learns how to edit enhanced effect and meaning to refine ideas, add or substitute words, reordering sentences, and remove repetition (ACARA, n.d.). Writing skills assist in the development of handwriting styles, which are fluent, legible, and automatic, therefore, supporting sustainable writing (De La Paz, 2001).
The structure of teacher-writing skills is in four categories, these are familiarization, guided, controlled, and free writing. Familiarization is teaching where students learn certain vocabulary and grammar through text (Hyland, 2004). In this teaching style, the teacher introduces classroom texts as samples students use as points of references. These samples need to cover all writing styles, grammar, and style techniques. In the guided writing, the learners imitate model texts, while controlled writing involves the manipulation of fixed patterns from substitution tables. An example of controlled writing is compositions with topic sentences students are to complete. Freewriting, on the other hand, is a writing style where, students learn the use of patterns to write letters, essays, and other forms of writings. These are present in the form of word tablets that show the flow of points and main concepts.
Effective teaching of the different types of writings requires different teaching skills that create a link between theory and classroom practice. According to Campbell, Green & Tompkins (2011), an effective teacher requires the balancing between instruction and authentic application. A teacher can create this link through the integration of writing, reading, listening, and viewing skills. Therefore, the teaching of writing skills is not a standalone exercise but an integrated teaching approach. Effective classroom teaching also requires the use of various instructional approaches to motivate and reduce monotony (De La Paz, 2001). Writing instruction, like literacy instruction, requires the incorporation of various technologies like the use of computers, writing software, writing games and quizzes. Through pedagogy approaches, the teacher can learn the background, nature and development level of a learner to offer the best teaching instruction (Campbell, Green & Tompkins, 2011). Effective teaching also requires the creation of a link between instruction and assessment to evaluate the level of achievement of teaching-learning objectives. Lastly, teachers need to create a conducive environment in which learners have an interest in the contribution to learning. A teacher can make use of games, storytelling activities, student centred-teaching to increase the motivation and thereby an interest in learning.
To achieve this, it is necessary that a teacher understands the learning process. This understanding is through learning theories of behaviourism, which is a teacher-centred approach, constructivism, sociolinguistics, and cognitive, which are student-centred approaches (De La Paz & Graham, 2002). Pedagogical models are cognitive or theoretical constructs, which are from models that allow a view of the knowledge, skills, and ability in writing. The identification of these views creates the foundation for learning theory and thereby the beginning of teaching writing. This implies that pedagogical models refer to the mechanism through, which theory is to practice. An analysis of these learning theories leads to the hypothesis that, “the primary goal of teaching, for an effective teaching/learning process, is one where the learner is able to construct own knowledge, can learn on their own, and develop skills from acquired knowledge” (Boulton, 2008).
To achieve the above, classroom practices may make use of the learning theory applications like guided reading, interactive writing to build students’ cognitive skills. This also entails the use of thematic units, literature focus units, word sorts, and reading logs to build constructive theory. The behaviourist theory of learning makes the assumption that the role of learning is the transmission of knowledge from the teacher to the learner (Hsieh & Lin, 2001). Therefore, a learning environment that is on the behaviourist approach has teacher centered learning activities. This is the total-teaching environment, where the teacher provides all the writing texts, creates word sorts, directs the reading logs and the use of technology.
The pedagogy of constructivism shows that learning is less passive transmission, but concerns a process of active construction as the learner gains individual skills and knowledge founded on prior knowledge (Hsieh & Lin, 2001). This model offers an environment where focus is on the learners. It encourages them to construct new ideas by testing theory through problem solving activities. Constructive perspective in the classroom is through the provision of an interactive environment to build knowledge and problem solving abilities. This entails the provision of activities that promote experimentation and discovery and allow for evaluation and reflection. Examples of such activities are writing exercises based on materials from students’ previous grade, requesting students to write texts on a top of their own following the basic rules of writing. This can also entail the creation of groups through which students carry out complex writing projects like carrying out a detailed research on the history of their city. To increase students’ interaction, the teacher can encourage learners’ to assess their work, discuss the written texts on themes, style, and plot.
The third learning theory is collaborative pedagogy where learners gain skills and knowledge by collaborating with other people, like fellow learners and teachers (Hsieh & Lin, 2001). Associated pedagogy is the interactive environment that allows for knowledge building and offers activities that promote interaction and sharing and support peer review and evaluation. Literature finds that effective learning of writing skills can occur in an interactive environment. This therefore, is from the sociolinguistic theory, where classroom tools or technologies encourage learning through interaction according to the concept of social construction of knowledge (Appana, 2008). A teacher can use technology like e-learning sites to increase the interaction with students. The sociolinguistic approach introduces three levels of learning interactions. These are self-interaction, in which students self-motivate and regulate learning process. The next one is the learner-content level, at which the learner interacts with the writing content, the instructor, and other learners. The last level of interaction involves interaction with assessment, evaluation, and feedback (Appana, 2008). These interactions are applicable through teaching activities like literature circles, reading, and writing workshops, online blackboards, and shared readings.
Apart from using pedagogical theories, teaching writing will require the use of cueing systems. This system is necessary as it recognizes the complexity of language and the challenges it issues to students learning write texts (Ivey, 2002). Cueing systems that the teacher can apply to reduce the complexity of language in writing, are phonological or sound, structural or syntactic, semantic, pragmatic, and paralinguistic system. These systems make it possible for students to write, but also read, listen, and talk (Campbell, Green & Tompkins, 2011). This is necessary since texts are a system of grammatical structures in series, in which sentences generate various meanings. Activities the teacher can use to improve language in writing are writing simple, complex, and compound sentences, and combining sentences (Campbell, Green & Tompkins, 2011). Teachers also teach students to use thesaurus and the dictionary, and study synonyms, homonyms, and antonyms. Activities like writing and reading dialogues in dialects improve the students’ pragmatic skills (Ivey, 2002). In addition, teaching students to predict what can happen in a text increases their paralinguistic skills. Writing skills can improve through classroom interactions, as evident with the sociolinguistic theory.
A vital aspect of integration of the theory into practice requires the teacher to use a balanced approach to classroom instructions. This balanced approach makes use of several other approaches identified as collaborative learning, guided practice, explicit instruction, and independent writing and reading (Campbell, Green & Tompkins, 2011). This interaction creates a framework for teaching strategies that facilitate increased interaction in the classroom. These frameworks are also described in various literatures like Northrup (2001), which identifies them as interaction with content, conversation, collaboration, performance support, and intrapersonal interaction. The goal of this integration of theories is to create a learning environment in which the learner experiences teacher’s planning, learning, strategies, thinking, and strategies and context (Northrup, 2001). An effective teacher recognizes the value of using a combination of teaching/learning tools, practices, and processes to assist the student in gain holistic writing skills.
In conclusion, teaching and learning processes, practices, and tools of integration create a balanced approach to classroom interaction as students use skills in collaboration using guided practice, explicit instruction, and independent writing. They link theory to practice as they are based on the pedagogy theories of collaboration, constructivism, sociolinguistic, and behaviourism. These provide tools that increase a learner’s interaction with themselves, with fellow learners, content, and teachers.
ACARA (n.d.). Literacy: Expanding the Repertoire of English Usage. The Australian Curriculum, Web.
Appana, S. (2008).A Review of Benefits and Limitations of Online Learning in the Context of the Student, the Instructor, and the Tenured Faculty. International Journal on E-Learning, 7(1), 5-22.
Campbell, R., Green, D. & Tompkins, G. (2011).Literacy for the 21st Century: A Balanced Approach. Australia: Pearson.
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