Q:

What techniques can really help improve a high school student's writing? -- Improvement Needed

A:

Here are some techniques that all high school students should try to implement that will definitely help to improve their writing:

  • -Always print out and read: Never try to re-read on screen. Somehow, even the best writer's brain freezes over when they do so.
  • -Spell check and grammar check can be VERY misleading and unreliable. One should never, never use them, except as warnings that something may be wrong. For example, spell check lets "bear" and "beer" stand as suitable nouns even if, well, the meanings don't fit. There are worse confusions, for English is full of overlapping spelling systems.
  • -Grammar check often gives clumsy and inaccurate suggestions. It may even flag a sentence as wrong because it cannot recognize a normal variation of word order, as in "Then said the king," where the verb precedes the subject.
  • -The best help for spelling is a dictionary, even in these days. A dictionary also gives better information than does a thesaurus.
  • -Students should train themselves to read every symbol on the page, every letter in every word and every single punctuation mark.
  • -Daily, students should concentrate for several minutes looking closely at a piece of good prose; it may be science, journalism, novels, anything that's well written. This method ensures the best results for making spelling, sentence structure and punctuation become part of one's unconscious mind.
  • -The process of putting into his or her own words something short, such as a legal document, a sonnet, part of the Constitution or any technical text so as to make the meaning plain and clear to a non-specialist compels the student-writer to extract the meaning and re-shape it into new languages.

Finally, students should not try to implement all of these techniques at once. They should begin by just selecting a few. Those selected can be written on a card.