Writing and Composition Courses

Students of all ages can benefit from Study.com's variety of writing and composition courses. Elementary-level courses target grade-level skills for third, fourth, and fifth graders.

Middle and high school students can access English language arts courses that cover the four areas of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. At each level, lessons teach mechanics and grammar skills as well as different writing genres, such as narrative, expository, and argumentative writing. College-level credit-eligible courses cover the basics of college essays and research papers and courses dealing with creative writing and technical writing skills.

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Writing and Composition Overview

English language arts is a core subject taught in schools, beginning with basic preliteracy skills and moving through advanced language skills. State and national standards for English language arts, such as the Common Core State Standards, focus on four core areas of learning: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. In writing, students are taught to write in a variety of genres, such as:

  • Descriptive writing
  • Narrative writing
  • Expository writing
  • Argumentative or persuasive writing
  • Creative writing.

Students need both general skills and genre-specific skills to become good writers.

Writing and composition are terms that are sometimes used interchangeably; however, there are slight differences. Writing can refer to any collection of letters or characters used to represent meaning. In this sense, writing can refer to letters, words, and sentences or even to hieroglyphics, emojis, and pictographs. The term writing is also used in a broader sense to encompass the use of words to create a unified body of information. The definition of composition usually refers to specific pieces of writing to address a specific purpose or prompt. It is possible to define writing and composition as follows: writing is the process of turning letters and words into a text that conveys meaning, while composition is the process of creating purposefully written works.

Teachers can begin to teach writing and composition as early as preschool. In addition to learning basic letter formation, preschoolers can begin to put together coherent thoughts that answer a question or describe a drawing. Early elementary students combine the learning of usage and mechanics, such as sentence structure and punctuation, with the composition of meaningful material. Upper elementary, middle, and high school students learn to create paragraphs and essays in a variety of formats and for a number of different purposes. Teaching writing in school is essential because clear and effective writing is a key life skill in college, the workplace, and beyond.

Writing and Composition Lessons and Skills

Writing is an integral part of the school curriculum at all grade levels. Middle and high school students are often expected to produce quality writing related to their content learning, such as social studies and science. To do so, students benefit from practicing their writing skills. Writers need consistent, repeated opportunities to work on both mechanics and usage. Mechanics include skills such as spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. Proper use of mechanics transforms a jumble of words into a body of information. Mechanics are necessary at all levels of writing and need to be explicitly taught to students and reinforced in various contexts.

Correct mechanics must be accompanied by proper usage. Usage covers grammatical considerations such as parts of speech, agreement, sentence structure, and paragraph writing. Examples of usage include consistent verb tenses, proper subject-verb agreement, and avoiding sentence errors such as run-ons and fragments.

Good writers also need to hone the skills necessary to write in individual genres such as narrative, argumentative, and expository writing. Argumentative skills include formulating a thesis, developing a cohesive argument, and drawing a clear conclusion. Narrative skills include developing a plot and creating characters and settings. Expository skills include good organization and sufficient supporting evidence. When students practice analyzing different types of literature, they begin to identify and understand the techniques necessary to produce different types of writing.

High school students can access a variety of skills practice on Study.com. Skills practice consists of questions sorted by category that can provide students with practice in their usage and mechanics skills. Students can choose to practice a single skill or several skills at once. In addition, teachers or parents can access the skills modules to put together an assignment that targets a student's specific goals or needs. These assignments can be used for homework, quizzes, or in-class practice.

The English language arts skills practice includes grammar, vocabulary, reading, and writing. Grammar topics include phrase and sentence structure, parts of speech, capitalization, punctuation, and more. Vocabulary topics include dictionary skills, word meanings, prefixes and suffixes, and word roots. Writing topics focus on editing, revision, and writing for specific genres. Reading topics include literary analysis, which is also part of writing for different genres. Use the following links to view skills practice topics by grade level:

Writing & Composition Tutors

Study.com has partnered with the award-winning Tutoring team at Enhanced Prep to bring you personalized online Writing & Composition tutoring. Discover a unique tutoring program to get you the grade, score, or school.

Enhanced Prep provides a truly customizable approach to tutoring, focusing on each student's specific needs. Students are matched with the right tutor who can help them study for a Writing & Composition test one day and prep for their upcoming college entrance exam the next.

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No two students are the same. Tutors create a unique game plan for each student following an assessment of their individual strengths and weaknesses.

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