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What is Good Writing?

If you were to ask ten people the question, ‘What is good writing?’, you would get ten different answers.

Discuss this question as a grade-level team, and you would get as many different answers as there are team members. Your principal probably has a different definition for this term than you do. Your students’ parents even have a definition for good writing and there’s a good chance their definition is different than how educators define it.

Is good writing…

A neat paper?

No spelling errors?

A well-developed thesis with enough supporting details?

An entertaining story with nice pictures?

Five paragraph expository writing with an introduction, three detail paragraphs, and a conclusion?

A well-thought out response to a prompt?

A paper that meets all of the assignment criteria?

Beautiful handwriting?

Something that meets the grade-level benchmarks?

Writing only published authors produce?

Before you can begin to move your writing instruction forward, it is important to get a grasp on how ‘good writing’ is defined by all the stakeholders, be this in your classroom, school, or district.

It is an important conversation for colleagues to have. Talking about what constitutes ‘good writing’ will help you plan and assess writing on a common level, using common vocabulary.

Don't Forget the Students

This is an interesting conversation to have with your students too. Hand out notecards and take a few minutes and ask them to respond to the question, ‘What is good writing?’ Collect the cards and see what they say. You might be surprised!

Raising the level of student writing requires understanding what your students think good writing is. This is very important! Until you do, you are speaking different languages.

Draw everyone together into a common understanding and you will begin to see change.


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