With the Pencil Going the Way of the Dinosaur You Still Need to Know How to Teach Your Child to Write

Nowadays most schools let children print in block letters like the keys on a keyboard instead of teaching writing as in continuous cursive. Probably a lot of parents cannot see any benefit in teaching writing as their children spend more time on a keyboard than with a pen and notepad. With the influx of modern technology in the classroom and university it would seem that writing is going extinct.

http://merylvdm.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/essay-writing2.png?w=300But it doesn't have to be that way.

Your children still need to be able to write so you, the parent, need to know how to teach your children to write. Teaching writing is not too difficult and once your children know how to write they can write on cards and write shopping lists. I prefer the Montessori way of teaching writing and reading as it uses a hands on approach and can be used with a school textbook.

The basics behind the Montessori approach is sandpaper letters. You make up the words your child is learning at school or kindergarten. And your child traces the sandpaper letter feeling the texture of the sandpaper under her fingertips. This feeling the letters, helps to implant the letters and words and how to write them in your child's mind. When tracing the words your child is actually going through the motions of writing without a pencil. This gets the hand and arm muscles read to start writing when your child picks up a pen. 

Writing like most learning takes time, and I think the Montessori approach with sandpaper letters actually shortens the time it takes for you to teach your child to write.

According to Maria Montessori some children learn to read first, while others learn to write first. It depends on the child. I have the child trace the new words or phonic sounds with Montessori sandpaper letters and this helps to write the new words in the child's mind. While tracing the sandpaper letters the child is actually writing with her fingers so this is the start of the writing process. Sometimes teaching writing too early can hinder learning to read in some children. Because writing takes a longer time than reading it can slow down the child as she spends more time trying to write. If your child is a slow writer just stick to reading.

The school system of today has no time for slow writers but the main problem has more to do with hand strength than slow writing. Under the Montessori system the child's hand strength is built up every day. Therefore when they start to write the child can control the pencil. If your child is having problems with writing, start by building up your child's hand strength. This simple act seems to eliminate a lot of writing problems. Under the Montessori system the child will start to write by themselves. After tracing the sandpaper letters the child will usually pick up a pencil and just start to write without any encouraging. The first part of the writing process is learning to hold a pencil and coloring in different sized shapes. This gets the muscles in the hand and arm ready for writing. The earlier children start to hold and use a pencil the earlier they will start to write.

How To Teach Writing

Writing is something that every one of us indulges in to some degree during our lives. We write at school and at college, at home and at work, and while we may not be putting pen to paper writing on a computer is still writing. Teaching writing takes patience and common sense, yet you do not have to be a classics master to teach people the basics of writing. Most of what is to be taught combines common sense with getting the best out of an individual technique and, as such, follows a pattern.

If you are intending to teach creative writing then the important factor to remember is that everyone is different; what one person writes will bear no relation to what another produces, and that is why writing – creatively and originally – is such an important aspect of our lives.

If we all wrote in the same way, with the same style, nothing would progress; we would be stuck in a rut and all reading the very same thing. This is why the major aspect of teaching creative writing is in helping the writers to engage with and develop their own style.

Everyone has a style, a preference in the way they use words, and reading a selection of contemporary short stories is a good indication of this. It is nurturing this style that is part and parcel of the teaching process.


Of course, there needs to be great attention to grammar and spelling; while computer spell checkers can be used to some extent in the respect they should not be relied upon as they cannot be completely accurate.

Grammar is one of the English languages most difficult aspects, for it is a language with many strange nuances; teach your pupils the correct use of the apostrophe, comma’s, the capital letter and the full stop and you will be half way to getting them on the right track. In particular, apostrophes can be very troublesome indeed.

Once they have the basics of grammar mastered the trick is to bring out the inner self; set them a task that involves describing something very ordinary – a picture, a scene, an incident – and tell them to write about it in their own manner. This will enable them to nurture their style and keep on the right track.

An important thing to remember is that, grammar aside, there is no right and wrong with writing. You may not like the way a pupil writes, but others will – do not stifle creativity, encourage individuality and bring forth the original.

How to use literature for teaching a language


How to use literature for teaching a language
Literature in teaching a language can be seen as a great motivational tool for stimulating your students' interest in learning a language. Especially, teaching complicated business terms and topics with integrating moving extracts from the classical literature or short stories gives a refreshing break for learners. It provides all components for ‘development of communicative approach such as grammatical, sociolinguistics, discourse and strategic principles' (Canale and Swain : 1995) and extends learner's area of expertise in many different areas of life.

Case-studies are widely used for teaching Business English at more advanced levels, they describe the situations of fictitious companies and offer some follow-up exercises, quizzes, pair work activities, etc. However, reading cases makes students feel bored and apathetic of colorless language and predictable outcomes. Finally, it can end up with boredom and waste of time both for teacher and students as it lacks imagination, authenticity and ‘sufficient information to make a sound decision.' (M. Shepard, G. Goldsby and W. Gerde : 1997).

According to Davies (1991) communicative competence is based on historical, practical, effective and contextual understanding. Therefore, in comparison to case-studies, novels and stories present real characters with their personal qualities, beliefs and attitudes. They are placed at the specific time, act at the specific place and are surrounded by real people. As a result, students have a clear understanding of context, some knowledge of culture and history that help them to create a genuine interest in the story.

Integrating fiction into the teaching process requires some preparation for a language teacher. First, teacher needs to consider what novels and stories to choose as  ‘the first merit which attracts in the pages of a good writer… are the words employed by finest meaning and distinctions, primal energy, a drum to rouse the passions' (W. Strunk : 1959). The best choice could be classical novels and extracts from recent bestsellers where ‘the good ended happily, and the bad unhappily'. To begin with Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen and Joanne Rowling and then to decide what is most appealing and most appropriate for your students' needs.

Second, incorporate fiction into syllabi, prepare exercises or use ready-to-use worksheets from the net. For example, teaching ‘Money and Markets' can be enriched by reading a novel ‘A Note of Admiration' by Oscar Wilde. It is an excellent piece of writing where you can find some terms of a financial market, a moving plot and interesting topics for further discussions. Before reading the novel, you can make a brief presentation about the writer by showing some pictures and displaying his famous quotations, such as ‘loving oneself is a long lasting romance' or ‘one either can be a piece of art or wear a piece of art', etc.

Third, devise some vocabulary matching exercises as some words in the novel are old-fashioned and some are financial terms. After that, let students read the novel for a few minutes and scan for answers to specific questions. For example, they could be general questions, like ‘What happened in the story?' or ‘Who is a model of admiration in the novel?' Then, focus your students' attention on skimming of the first paragraph and the last paragraph as they contain the most important ideas of the novel.

Sample questions:
  1. What is the privilege of the rich and being wealthy?
  2. How did Hughie look?
  3. What did he live on?
  4. How long did he work on the Stock Exchange?
  5. Why was he called a butterfly on the Stock Exchange?
  6. What did Baron Hausberg send to Hugie?
  7. Who made a speech at the breakfast?
  8. What does a ‘model person' mean?
Next, concentrate on a detailed analysis of the text by giving a reading test with four choices. It will help students to read thoroughly and understand the context deeply.
At this stage of reading, encourage your students to ask questions about the story, explain idioms, phrasal verbs and collocations. Finally, review and correct the answers with further follow-up discussions on the novel. For the next class, students can write an essay about the novel or prepare for a class debate. Essay and debate questions may be statements from the text such as ‘Men who are dandies and women who are darlings rule the world' or ‘Our business is to realize the world as we see it, not to reform it as we know it'.
To sum up, keeping in mind Saville-Troike's (1982) the most comprehensive definition of the speaker's competence in ‘certain settings' teachers may apply it to teaching a language through best fiction samples as they provide models for ‘appropriate non-verbal behaviors in various contexts, the routines for turn-taking in conversation … and other communicative dimensions in particular social settings'.  

A Bestselling Writer & Acclaimed Writing Coach Shares Her #1 Tip for Getting Started and Avoiding Writer's Block

Google the phrase sloppy letter and diatribes against the practice of careless correspondence pop up. So it will probably come as a surprise to learn that bestselling writer Linden Gross advises all her writing coach clients to write her sloppy letters. "The sloppier, the better," she says.

"Most writers are so concerned about the quality of their work that the quality of their work suffers," says Gross, who draws on her background in editing, writing and teaching when working with others. "Ideas and creativity don't flow in the face of self-criticism. And how do you discover your own voice if you're constantly judging its flaws? All that spawns is doubt and eventually immobilization and writer's block. The Sloppy Letter to Linden diffuses all those self-imposed constraints."

The rules are simple. Clients can't worry about spelling, grammar, language, sentence structure, repetition, logic or anything else. They just write as fast and as long as they want, or until they've brought Linden up to speed about themselves and their project, including why it's important to them, what they're trying to say and/or accomplish, and any other background information that might be helpful.

Some people finish this brain dump in less than an hour. Others work on it for months. "Whether they wind up with whole chunks of prose that drop right into their manuscripts, find the voice they've spent months or years struggling to cultivate, or simply relax, without exception writers find the exercise liberating," says Gross. "After all, how can you sweat something that's supposed to be sloppy?
"Try the sloppy letter exercise the next time you need to jumpstart—or restart—your writing," she adds. "Or join the growing number of writers who are turning to writing coaches for help."

People often assume that hiring a writing coach implies that they're incapable of writing on their own and need hand-holding. That may be true, and there's nothing wrong with that. But a writing coach relationship extends way beyond encouraging aspiring or veteran writers, holding them accountable or even teaching them about the craft of writing. It's like having a partner on their creative team who has managed to retain the perspective that can so easily be lost when immersed in a big project. Writers are in the trees by definition. A writing coach still has a sense of the forest as a whole.

"Most writers are so concerned about the quality of their work that the quality of their work suffers," says Gross, who draws on her background in editing, writing and teaching when working with others. "Ideas and creativity don't flow in the face of self-criticism. And how do you discover your own voice if you're constantly judging its flaws? All that spawns is doubt and eventually immobilization and writer's block. The Sloppy Letter to Linden diffuses all those self-imposed constraints."

The rules are simple. Clients can't worry about spelling, grammar, language, sentence structure, repetition, logic or anything else. They just write as fast and as long as they want, or until they've brought Linden up to speed about themselves and their project, including why it's important to them, what they're trying to say and/or accomplish, and any other background information that might be helpful.

Some people finish this brain dump in less than an hour. Others work on it for months. "Whether they wind up with whole chunks of prose that drop right into their manuscripts, find the voice they've spent months or years struggling to cultivate, or simply relax, without exception writers find the exercise liberating," says Gross. "After all, how can you sweat something that's supposed to be sloppy?

"Try the sloppy letter exercise the next time you need to jumpstart—or restart—your writing," she adds. "Or join the growing number of writers who are turning to writing coaches for help."
People often assume that hiring a writing coach implies that they're incapable of writing on their own and need hand-holding. That may be true, and there's nothing wrong with that. But a writing coach relationship extends way beyond encouraging aspiring or veteran writers, holding them accountable or even teaching them about the craft of writing. It's like having a partner on their creative team who has managed to retain the perspective that can so easily be lost when immersed in a big project. Writers are in the trees by definition. A writing coach still has a sense of the forest as a whole.

"To choose a writing coach who will work for you, first find one who shares your vision," says Gross. "Second, find a writing coach who fulfills your needs. Just as no two writers work the same way, writing coaches have different styles. Some writing coaches don't even read what their clients write, which puzzles me to no end. That's like writing about food you never taste."
Gross does more than read her clients' work. She offers a willing ear, feedback, encouragement and when absolutely necessary a reality check. And though each writer has his or her strengths and weaknesses that need to be addressed in a manner befitting the person and the situation, there's one piece of advice that she gives every writer: Quit judging yourself and your work so harshly.

Online Writing Courses Can Teach You How To Make Money Writing

Online Writing Courses Can Teach You How To Make Money Writing

“How much money can I make as a freelance writer?”

There is money to be made all around you as a freelance writer. Magazine article writing, Work for hire projects, Speech writing, Copy writing, Teaching writing, Writing books, the list goes on and on. The question should be, “How can ‘I’ make money as a freelance writer?”

http://blocs.xtec.cat/gemmasalvia1213/files/2012/08/writing.jpgStart out by assessing your current skills and interests as a writer. Look around. What do you know? Do you have a skill as a writer that would be useful to others? Is there a topic that you could write about and publish as an e-book on the internet? Do you have writing skills that local businesses could use? Is there some aspect of writing that you could teach others?

Don’t limit yourself to one source of income. One of the biggest obstacles that I see when people are learning how to be a freelance writer is that they often only consider one avenue for income. They often think that the only way to make money is by having a book published. Nothing could be further from the truth.

One full time writer that I know has several books published. She receives royalty checks for those books and receives advances on new books that she is writing. Even so, about half of her annual income comes from editing other people’s work and doing write-for-hire projects for local businesses.

Even successful, published authors have multiple sources of income.

Sit down today and make a list of all of the ways that you could make money with your writing. Once you’ve completed the list, take a look at some of the online writing courses being offered that could help you to hone your skills as a writer or learn the business side of things. Find some courses that can help you fill gaps in your skills or understanding.

Invest in yourself then take some action toward getting some work as a writer. The sky’s the limit as to how much money you can make as a freelance writer.

Teaching Writing through Peer Feedback


This research was originally aimed to investigate the impact of peer feedback toward the students' narrative writing and the students' responses toward peer feedback occurred in the L2 writing classroom. Although many researchers have noted that peer feedback had positive impact on students' language skills especially writing, but peer feedback was originally used to develop students' writing in L1 during 1970s (Hyland and Hyland, 2006:1). In 2000s, researchers like Zeng (2006), Kamimura (2006), Jiao (2007), and Hirose (2009) investigated the impact of peer feedback in L2 writing classroom and they noted that peer feedback offers many ways to improve students' writing. However, until this time, peer feedback effectiveness is still debated. Hong (2006), for example, found that students' had very negative response toward peer feedback activity in L2 and EFL writing classroom. This phenomenon raises an attempt to reinvestigate peer feedback in L2 writing classroom, especially in an Indonesian context. This research revealed that peer feedback is a useful way can be used to improve students' writing, although the improvement is superficial in some extents.

This research focuses on students' writing development and their responses toward peer feedback. The basic assumption underpinning this research is that writing is communication or a social process (Hyland (2005:198). Since writing is a social process, then in writing process the writer should be placed as a member of communicator, member of classroom society. Placing the writer in this situation gives the writer opportunities to have meaningful inputs from others. In this regard, the students are the writers and narrowing the social dimension in their L2 writing classroom emerges opportunities to negotiate their strength to improve other and their weakness to be strengthened.<br /><br />Considering the assumption suggested by Hyland above, since peer feedback allows students to negotiate their ideas, commenting and correcting mistakes in their peer's drafts, offering suggestions for their peer's draft further development (Spear, 1988; Williams, 1957), then peer feedback can be applied confidently in L2 writing classroom. In the case of students' attitude toward peer feedback, as hesitated by Hong (2006) that the students' have very negative impact toward peer feedback, here Jacobs et al (1998) mentioned that they believe that students usually welcome peer feedback as one type of feedback in writing. This research also revealed that the students' have positive response toward peer feedback; the students did not devalue peer feedback activities in L2 writing classroom.<br /><br />Related Theories<br /><br />Peer Feedback<br /><br />Peer feedback is defined by Yang (in Zeng, 2006) as feedback that is given by peer. In writing activity, peer feedback means having other writer to read and to give feedback on what other writer has written (Hyland, 2005). In this research, since the writers are the students, peer feedback is understood as having other students to read and to give comments, corrections, criticisms, and suggestions on what other students have written.<br /><br />Providing meaningful feedback, spoken or written, is one of the most important tasks for English writing teachers (Hyland and Hyland, 2006). While teacher feedback has been indicated to be desirable for the students' writing development, debates continues over whether teacher written feedback should be provided as it is often neglected and misunderstood by students (Williams, 1975). Teacher feedback has been criticized for being product oriented because it occurs most frequently at the end point due to time and class size constrains (Lee, 2009). Whereas, writing as a process should be paid attention to make the students aware and understand that writing is not an instant product (Harmer, 2007). Hyland (2005) illustrates the process of writing that gives feedback and revision more attention. Feedback and revision stages are the recursive processes that take times to produce a good piece of writing, when the class size is needed to be considered, here peer feedback should be considered to be applied in writing classroom.<br /><br />Peer feedback activities tend to generate more comments on the content, organization, and vocabulary (Lee, 2009:130). This means that peer feedback is not only about how a student makes corrections on his or her friend's writing, but it is also about how a student's criticism, suggestion, and point of view generate meaningful improve toward other student's writing. However, peer feedback also has certain drawbacks those are discussed later on.<br /><br />Feedback given by peer can be spoken or written feedback. This research focuses on the written feedback given by peer to improve their writing, especially narrative writing. Written peer feedback is given in form of marks, written comments, written correction, and there is form provided for students to give more suggestions.<br /><br />Peer Feedback and Social Constructionists' View of Learning<br /><br />Social Constructionists believe that knowledge is negotiated and best acquired through interaction (Kurt and Atay, 2007). One of the theories supporting this statement is Vygotsky's theory Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). Vygotsky (in Mooney, 2000:83) defines ZPD as the distance between the most difficult task someone can do alone and the most difficult task someone can do with help. Furthermore, Mooney states that Vygotsky believes that a learner in the edge of learning needs an interaction and can benefit from the interaction to enhance his or her learning achievement.<br /><br />Morris (2008) mentions that ZPD explains the development from an actual level to a potential level. Peer feedback, since it allows students to make negotiation of their strength and weakness (Williams, 1957; Spear, 1988; Hyland, 2005) where the students can make negotiation of ideas, comments, corrections, and suggestions (Zeng, 2006; Kamimura, 2006; Jiao, 2007), provides opportunities for the students to be better in writing, and also reading.<br /><br />ZPD is one of the theories that support peer feedback (Ferris and Hedgcock, 2005:225). This theory explains why and how the students' writing skill can be developed through peer feedback. Although it is noted that ZPD pays attention to the interaction between the higher and lower level of interlocutor, it does not mean that peer feedback (where the students might be in the same level) discourage the students' writing development. The students' writing development can be occurred when mistakes are corrected, unclearness is clarified, ineffectiveness is criticized, and suggestion is applied in their writing. In offering betterment as mentioned, higher-lower level interaction is not necessarily the case. Students in similar level can do it, although some observed mistakes must be left ignored. Pei (2006:3; as well as Hirose, 2009) mentions that students, sometimes, are not aware that they make mistakes (because they do not know, or they forget it) and peer feedback can stimulate their awareness of their writing mistakes. Students in similar level can remind each other about the mistakes their friend made. This shows that development of writing (as product) in the peer feedback activities (as process) is not always determined by higher-lower interactant. Interaction of students in similar level can generate development of writing.<br /><br />Furthermore, peer feedback generates development of both the student as the writer and the students as the reader. Kurt and Atay (2007) explain that in peer feedback students do not only compose their writing but also read their friend writing. In reading their friend writing, they are aware that their role is "error searcher" and this awareness makes them to carefully read their friend's writing. This is in line with Rollinson (2005) who mentions that peer feedback also trains students to be critical reader. However, the importance pointed out here is that, when the student critically and carefully read their friend's writing, it is possible that they find mistakes that similarly they made on their own writing. This emerges the student (as the reader) to make revision based on their self-awareness, where the friend's writing becomes "mirror" that reflects their own writing. Therefore, the interaction and the negotiation in the peer feedback activity, as believed by Social Constructionist, generate benefit in two sides: writing and reading.<br /><br />Peer Feedback: Advantages and Drawbacks<br /><br />Peer feedback is still hotly debated. Literatures and researches lifted the impacts of peer feedback in writing instruction, especially L2 writing. Various conclusions have been declared, that is, peer feedback is advantageous in one side and disadvantageous in the other side. The criticism toward peer feedback offered by Hong (2006) that the students devalue peer feedback activity, even, they do not like peer feedback at all. The students, according to Hong, commented that they felt being underestimated by negative feedback given by their peer. But this research revealed that the students have seen peer feedback as an interesting way of learning to write. They also said that comment and negative feedback is the evidence that their writing is really read by their peer. Peer feedback generates positive impact if the students are ready and well-trained and prepared by the teacher (Williams, 1957). It can be assumed that peer feedback failure is caused by ignoring this aspect, preparation.<br /><br />It has been already mentioned that peer feedback plays important role in writing process. Since narrative is defined as the choice of a specific linguistic technique to report or to tell past events, stories, experiences (Labov, 1997), then writing a narrative should be considered as process oriented writing activity. Narrative functions to entertain, to inform, to display sequential events, and those are closely related to the readers' satisfaction. Therefore, considering feedbacks from the reader must be very important to guarantee the readability of the narrative itself.<br /><br />A narrative, as well as other text types, should be written in a process oriented scheme where peer feedback activities can take place. Generally, peer feedback might be useful to enhance students' awareness on the grammatical mistakes and mechanical mistakes. For the example, narrative tells story in the past that means the tenses used mostly past tense (Feez and Joyce, 2000). Students those are not aware this aspect might use inappropriate tenses in their narrative and peer feedback can stimulate their awareness on this kind of mistake. Mechanically, the correct use of punctuation in the (narrative) writing is also important to shape the meaning; here peer feedback may generate correction when the mistakes are observed by the students. Specifically, peer feedback is useful to develop the idea, content, clarity, mechanics, and the organization of the students' narrative writing (Clark, 2003:119).<br /><br />When the students are asked to write with sense "to be read" by authentic audience (peers), their writing is better than when they are asked to write to be read by teacher (Clark, 2003:120). As well as writing narrative, the students must be aware that their effort is to tell story, to make the reader entertained, and they should hope the reader's satisfaction. If the narrative is written as an instant product, without recursive processes (composing-peer feedback-revising), the narrative must be "not ready" to publish.<br /><br />I am personally confident that the students as readers are experienced in reading narrative. Since short stories and novels are more favorable by undergraduate students than textbooks, the students will relatively easy to identify unclear parts in their peer's narrative writing, especially in terms of the elements and the clarity of the ideas. However, I am personally doubtful if the students are experienced enough to offer meaningful and significant feedbacks in terms of grammaticality and mechanics. It is assumed that feedbacks and revisions made by the students in writing their narrative could be superficial, because one of the difficulties in peer feedback revealed by the researchers is caused of the lack grammar and mechanics knowledge (Clark, 2003).<br /><br />Peer feedback in process oriented narrative writing can be successfully done if the teacher provides guidance. Most students, especially younger and less able writers, need direct instruction in evaluating writing and guidance in responding to the writing of peers (Clark, 2003:122). Therefore, the teacher needs to prepare feedback form or narrative rubric to help students doing peer feedback. The feedback form can be in form of leading questions in regarding the clarity of idea, the completeness of the elements, and the schematic structures of the writing. Peer feedback activity that is recursively done in the process of narrative writing will develop the students' narrative writing mostly organizationally. Feedbacks given by the student-reader will support the student-writer to make meaningful development due to their narrative writing readability.<br />
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Peer feedback in narrative writing does not only promise the development of writing based on feedbacks given, but it also promises the development of reading ability, to stimulate self-awareness on mistakes and weaknesses in their own narrative writing (Kurt and Atay, 2007; Rollinson, 1995). When a student finds that his or her peer's narrative writing contains unreasonable complication or resolution, it might remind the student to reflect his or her own narrative; the student must be "embittered" of what feedback given for his or her complication or resolution. Therefore, process oriented approach, where peer feedback activity takes place repeatedly and recursively is better for the students in writing narrative than writing narrative as an instant product. The more peer feedback in the narrative writing process, the more narrative writing development the student can achieve.


It is found that peer feedback improves students' narrative writing. Generally, students' narrative writing develops in terms of grammaticality and mechanics. These developments are classified into general development. General development is the development which occurs across genre such as grammar and mechanics.

Students' grammatical development can be directly indentified thorough the revisions made by the students from draft to draft. Mostly, grammatical development achieved by the students is in terms of the appropriate use of past tense, sentence pattern, and concord. Feedbacks from the responders given to the students encourage them to revise their draft to be better in grammar. Revisions made by the students in this regard are based on the feedbacks given or based on their self-awareness when they read their peer's drafts. The students' are aware that they may make similar mistakes as their peers make. This self-awareness is an evidence that peer feedback also provides chance to make reflection through reading peer's drafts. It means that peer feedback does not merely give chance to comment or correct peer's drafts, but it also provides possibility that peer's drafts can reflect each student's own draft. The students are supported by their role as "mistakes searcher" and this role makes the students more critical on their own writing. This proves what Rollinson (2005) stated that peer feedback also trains students to be critical reader on their own writing.

The mechanical development achieved by the students is in terms of the appropriate use of punctuation and diction, including word spelling. Students' drafts develop mechanically since they are given feedbacks from their responders to correct punctuation misuses and to correct misspelled words. Mostly, the punctuation misuse found and commented by the responders are about the use of comma and quotation. As well as in grammatical development, the students are also made aware of their own mechanical mistakes when they read their peer's drafts. However, the revisions made in this regard is superficial and this proves what Clark (2003) mentioned that revision made by the students in peer feedback processes is superficial.

However, students' grammar and mechanics knowledge are the most important thing must be considered by the researcher. Students in this research are lack grammar and mechanics knowledge. This is identified through the unobserved mistakes found in the students' drafts. Those mistakes are unobserved both by the student-writer and the student-reader or responder. The students' knowledge concerning grammar and mechanics has influential impact on their ability to identify grammatical and mechanical mistakes in their peer's drafts. The unobserved mistakes, grammatical and mechanical mistakes, show that students' ability to identify mistakes in their peer's drafts need to be improved for the peer feedback is done successfully in the future.

The next development achieved by the students is organizational development which is classified into substantial development. Organizational development covers the revisions made by the students in terms of the clarity of idea, the completeness of the narrative elements, and the schematic structure of the students' narrative writing. It is called substantial development because it shows how the students' narrative as specified genre in this research develops through peer feedback.

The development of idea and its clarity can be identified through the revisions made by the students which are based on the feedback given by the responder. The students' ideas in their 1st drafts are unclear. The lack of idea clarity is triggered by title-content disconnection. Feedbacks given in this aspect focus on how to make title and content of the writing match, and the students found that the feedbacks given have improved their ideas and this can be seen from the title revisions made by the students.

The development of the elements and schematic structure is also found in the students' drafts. Mostly, the students wrote their orientation verbosely. Through the feedbacks and the revisions, it is found that students' narrative orientations have developed more focus and clearer. It is also found that students' orientation and complication in their 1st draft do not match or lack of description. In their later drafts, by considering feedbacks given by the responder, students then add descriptions to make their orientation and complication match. Students' narrative writing also developed in terms of the connection of complication and resolution. In the students' drafts it is found that they do not put reasons of how or why the resolution comes and in the later drafts they put descriptions to make their resolution explainable. The development of the element and the structure show that peer feedback helps students to write their narrative in better way. Since the students are allowed to negotiate their points of view, the students can benefit the negotiated view to create or to revise their narrative to be better.

From the description above, it is concluded that peer feedback has an influential impact on the students' narrative writing. The development achieved by the students through peer feedback can be classified into three developments they are grammatical development, mechanical development, and organizational development.

The students commented that peer feedback is effective for some reasons. Firstly, it enables the students to know mistakes and weaknesses. Secondly, it allows students to consider peer's or responder's views. Thirdly, it provides chances to know the reader's perception on the students' drafts. Fourthly, it gives more opportunities to the teachers or lecturers to do other works during peer feedback processes. Peer feedback, since it provides links or channels for students (as writer and reader) to negotiate knowledge and strength, enables students to be good writers and to be critical readers. Peer feedback also make the students learn that what one believes as true or correct is not always true or correct for other.

As already mentioned, students' ability to identify mistakes in their peers' drafts is challenged and this invites difficulties in peer feedback activities. Twelve students commented that they were unconfident of their ability to identify, to mark their peers' mistakes; mostly in grammar.

Students' language proficiency and ability to identify mistakes are the most influential aspect during peer feedback processes. Lack of grammar knowledge made students have difficulty in figuring out what is correct and what is incorrect is and this was realized as one of the peer feedback drawbacks.

Another difficulty in peer feedback activity covered through interview is the product or the draft itself. The students sometimes complained that they could not identify certain punctuation because it was written by hand and not by computer. For example two students commented that they sometimes could not distinguish comma and period, colon and semicolon because the drafts were handwritten.

Teaching Children to Write by Aiming For Fluency, Not Perfection

So how do we teach children to write without dominating their work? Learning how to homeschool well means tackling this prickly problem. We are so eager for our kids to succeed, that we can't keep from sticking our fingers into their pudding, but we do so at great cost--their creative expression and any hope that they might enjoy writing. By following a few basic principles, we can free our kids up to express themselves in writing and maybe learn to enjoy the process. What we need to do is to aim for fluency, not perfection.

Practice Free Writing

First, we must allow them to write freely as often as possible. That means lots and lots of rough drafts, with no need for multiple rewrites and a final, "good" copy. Whose idea was it for children to correct and recopy every word they write? Talk about tedium! If we cut back on the rewrites, they could write twice as much. A steady diet of free writing is essential. Every professional writer that I know has some sort of journal for this type of writing.

Avoid Over Correcting

Parents can be sticklers for over correcting children's work, but homeschooling well means motivating kids to write, not teaching them to hate it. We wonder why children write as little as possible, use short, uninteresting vocabulary and hate writing, Here's why: the shorter the piece, the less there is to correct and rewrite. Smart kids use short, boring words to reduce the chance of making errors.

A boy I knew once asked his mother, "How do you spell octopus?" She replied, "Just write fish. At least you can spell that." What a sad lesson he learned that day! An overemphasis on correctness of spelling, grammar, neatness and punctuation will destroy creativity and will teach a child to write less. The more they play the game of pleasing adults instead of freely expressing themselves, the sooner they will learn to hate writing.

Provide More Time for Experience

Why do we insist on chaining our kids to a desk and pencil? Instead of spending precious time recopying text, an activity that serves little purpose, they should be running, playing and exploring--gaining experience from which to write more powerful and authentic stories, poems and reports. Experience is the raw material for writing so the richer one's experience, the more that person has to write about. And experience in recopying text is not the stuff of great works of art!

Aim for Fluency, Not Perfection

Professional writers know that the more we write, the better we write. Parents and teachers often haven't figured that out. If we would first encourage fluency in their writing by letting them write whatever comes into their heads without second guessing their ideas, without worrying about how to spell it, punctuate it or write it neatly, imagine what they might create! Why not only require them to edit one out of every ten pieces? And how about if they don't recopy any of it? Let them write the original draft on every second line, make a neat stroke through the word that they are editing and write the new word above it. Then on with creating!

Compare Learning Writing to Learning to Talk

When they learned to talk, we adored their babbling. We didn't bother to correct their baby talk, and wonder of wonders, that babbling eventually turned into well-structured speech. Let's apply the same principle to writing. They need to babble a lot on paper to learn to write well. They don't need constant correction; rather, they need the freedom to explore their language. If they read good books, are read to regularly and do a lot of practice writing, they will eventually develop their own style and will learn to correct their errors. How, you ask? That takes me to the topic of editing, which I will save for a future article. For now, please step back and let your children write. For their sake, aim for fluency, not perfection.

Publication Credits - How to Build Up Your Bio (Super Fast) For Your Cover and Query Letters

Many new creative writers are often frustrated when they don't have any publication credits in the biographical section of their cover and query letters. "How will literary agents and editors at magazines and journals ever take me seriously if I don't have any publishing credentials?" writers ask. Many writers feel there is a catch-22 situation in publishing: writers must be published to get published. So how can you break the cycle?

First and foremost, writers who are serious about publishing must develop good writing techniques and an effective, habitual submission strategy. There is no substitute for true publishing credentials: seeing your byline in a reputable print magazine or literary journal is valuable not only to your morale, but to your reputation. But if you're in a pinch and you'd like to pad your writing bio while you're waiting for the acceptance letters to start coming in, here are some techniques you might use.

Join a national, reputable writing organization. By joining a professional organization of writers in your genre, you are demonstrating that you are worthy of being among those writers and that you are serious about your writing. You are creating associations between yourself and that professional, established, reputable group. If you are writing romance novels, join Romance Writers of America. If you write literary work, consider the Association of Writing Programs. You will need to spend some money on the registration fees for these organizations, but it will be worth it if you can indicate that you are a member in good standing within specific writing groups. You'll get to include their name on your query or cover letter; you'll get access to great resources and a network of writers who may be willing to help you; and you'll demonstrate your own professionalism. The credentials in your bio will show that even though you have few (if any) publication credits now, it's only a matter of time.

Join a small, local organization. If you can't muster up enough money to join a professional writing organization, you can often join a smaller local organization for free. If you can note on your cover or query letter, "I am part of a writer's group that meets every month," you'll show that you're resourceful and devoted. To find a local writing group or organization, visit your local library and ask around. Or you can find them by looking into social networking sites. Just take the necessary precautions to stay safe. The professional bio in your cover letter will look more writerly and your writing technique is bound to improve with your new commitment to critique and discussions of craft.

Volunteer. Writers and readers love people who volunteer with literary advocacy groups, and literary agents and editors are no exception. When you volunteer for a literacy organization, you look good because you're doing good. Not only might you discover that your publishing credentials look better when you volunteer your time, but you may also learn that you enjoy sharing your passion for all things writing. It's a win-win situation for all parties involved.

Take classes. Research local schools or find local writers who teach classes. Studious writers are perceived as serious writers. Plus, being able to write that you "studied at the University of ABC" or that you "worked with award-winning novelist Joe Anybody" does a lot for your credibility. If you can't get to a school, check out online classes available through your local colleges or other national writing schools.

Go to a writing conference. If your time and finances allow it, go to a writing conference. Not only will you be able to learn and network with literary agents, editors, and writers, you'll also be able to note your attendance in your bio. If a literary agent or editor recognizes the name of the conference (perhaps he or she attended the conference in the past), it may work in your favor.

These are just a few ways you can quickly build the credits in the bio of your cover or query letter. You may not have stellar publishing credentials--maybe you haven't published anything at all--but by demonstrating that you are committed to your work and your craft, you prove that you are reputable, dependable, and devoted. Just remember, when it comes to your commitment to publishing, strong submissions and publications are the BEST way to prove your skill! Good luck.

*Writer's Relief (established 1994) is an author's submission service specializing in targeting (and preparing) submissions to reputable agents and editors. We help writers find the best-suited agents and editors for their writing.