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Arkansas State University

How Personal and Creative Writing Affect Student Literacy

The use of creative writing plays a significant role in increasing student literacy within the classroom. Through different forms of personal writing via school assignments, students often gain a greater appreciation of how writing and the use of language intersect with their identities and life experiences.

These creative outlets also provide them with different ways to express themselves and their creativity in an educational setting. It can also help shape their personal and writer identities while gaining more confidence and a relationship with writing.

Educators with an advanced degree in reading and literacy understand the benefits that strong literacy skills have on students’ short- and long-term success. There are many ways for educators to implement creative writing in class so they can contribute to student literacy rates and lessen student reading and writing anxiety. Some of these forms include:

  • Diaries/journaling
  • Memoir/personal narratives
  • Creative nonfiction
  • Lyric/narrative/confessional poetry
  • Hybrid/multimodal forms and other forms
  • Digital storytelling

These creative writing outlets can be especially effective in helping students whose first language is not English improve their skills while engaging with classmates creatively.

For example, one high school teacher at a newcomer school for immigrants to the United States employed dialogue journaling and write-alouds to help build a community of multilingual students who did not have a complete educational experience in their home countries.

The assignments not only helped the students engage in the creative writing process but also build background knowledge and learn literacy with comprehensible input.

Storytelling for a Specific Audience

A middle school language arts teacher found that designing a curriculum to assist students in selecting a valued topic and emphasizing meaning to impact a specific audience. The students also shared their work with each other throughout the process.

The result found that students write more effectively when they write for an intended audience rather than an imaginary one. For example, social justice education could enhance a sense of audience and purpose for students.

The online Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) in Reading program at Arkansas State University (A-State) prepares students to be educators who advocate for literacy. Designed for professionals with a master’s in reading or literacy, this post-graduate degree helps individuals expand their knowledge and understand the intricacies of the practices, trends and concerns surrounding creative writing in the classroom.

In particular, the Writing Pedagogy: Advanced Process in Writing course examines writing processes and perspectives, focusing on recursive practices in various settings.

The course also includes a look at the effects of personal and academic writing practices and the research of writing pedagogy to facilitate its strong application. Students in the online Ed.S. program learn about the complexity of school systems and legislatures, along with literacy origins and history.

As for the study of writing experiences, there are four approaches that narrow the focus of why creative writing is a vital part of literacy for students. They are:

  1. Worlds apart: Includes research that emphasizes situations and contexts for creative writing practices in which students need only learn university writing features in one setting.
  2. Literacy in the wild: Focuses on co- and extracurricular literacy practices that are often self-sponsored and highlight individual literacy development of outside of formal curricular context.
  3. Ecologies and networks: Underscores the work of community organization, such as workplace writing, which draws on sociocultural theories that influence writing and its practices.
  4. Transfer: Focuses on the writing knowledge that people gain through one context and apply it to another, and showing how they do so. These studies look to understand movement across boundaries and contexts.

Making creative writing part of the educational process is key to improving literacy, sparking creativity and helping students gain an identity as writers and people. Educators with holistic training in reading and literacy curricula are equipped to help students realize the power of language. Potential careers that graduates can pursue with this degree include digital literacy leader, adjunct university professor and literacy advocate.

Learn more about A-State’s online Ed.S. in Reading program.

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