School assignments are designed to enable children to assimilate information and present it coherently. These are fit opportunities that go a long way in developing self confidence. Yet, many times, these assignments fail to serve any purpose, the reason being the tendency to copy information verbatim. From the child's perspective, this approach must seem faster. It is also possible that this way the chances of their writing being judged and being given lower grades, can be reduced significantly. If this is happening regularly, it simply means several missed opportunities to enhance their reading and writing abilities, both of which are incredibly important life skills.
School assignments are an incredibly useful instrument to build confidence
Children get to read a variety of texts, get a sense of different writing approaches to present a particular subject.
They learn to pick information that is relevant from a whole plethora of information.
Based on the reading experience, present the relevant information is a way that connects with the reader and makes the assignment an interesting read. Information can be presented either in paragraphs or in bullet points or in tabular form or even in the form of an intriguing story to pique the reader's interest in the subject. Encouraging children to experiment with different approaches makes the assignment writing experience an enjoyable one.
The teacher's grade can be used as a measure to ascertain why a particular approach worked or didn't. Feedback from the teacher must be sought if your child is unclear about having lost marks over an assignment.
Revisiting one's assignment to modify based on the teacher's feedback is critical for progress. More importantly, it normalises the act of revisiting one's writing to enhance its impact through necessary edits.
Relevance of school assignments in preparing children for the long run
Writing to consolidate and present one's work
Every one of us have special capabilities which when used result in something more tangible. To let the world know, we need to present our work in a way that it is attractive and compels people to be come curious and want to know more. Providing this information in a written form makes it easy for anyone to pick it up and inform themselves at a later point in time. The purpose of research based assignments is to inculcate this very important life skill.
Writing to present a team's work
Individual reports are hard enough, but consolidating everyone's view points and sounding coherent in a report can be challenging. Give it some thought and you will realise that it is not very different from the research based assignments given in school where you had to compile information from different sources and write it down coherently for an assignment or report. The difference when it comes to team work, is that the information is not readily available in well written forms off the web. It involves taking note of everyone's contributions and putting it all together.
This can be nerve wrecking as this kind of writing opportunity rarely presents itself in school but is something that one needs life long. While working on group projects, there is always a tendency to rely on the leader or anyone else with a liking for writing to do the bit presenting the team's work in the form of slides for a presentation. What if someone important misses the presentation or simply doesn't have the time to attend, how can the person be kept in the loop? Through a concise summary of the presentation perhaps. So the question arises, who writes this? And how to ensure that the summary has the relevant points that can be easily understood?
'This is probably the smartest thing we have ever done'- Jeff Bezos said this, after banning Power Point presentations in Amazon and replacing them with 'narratively structured memos'
This shift was made in order to make meetings less time consuming. Meetings begin with the attendees reading and understanding the six page memo. When discussions begin, it is said that everyone is on the same page and hence it is a lot easier to discuss and arrive at decisions. Structured memos while are probably harder to prepare than ppts, they seem to be far more effective in conveying information provided they are well written. To write a well written 'anything' requires writing regularly over years.
Recognising writing as a means to communicate some information either one's own ideas/proposals or reporting a summary is important. It requires a conscious recognition of the reader's perspective and presenting the material in a form that can be easily read and understood. To develop this skill, reading extensively a variety of texts and writing for an audience early on become incredibly critical.
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