7 Reading and Writing are Your Ticket Stubs

Maureen Dreitlein

Writing is an art form. A person takes thoughts and ideas from outside sources and turns them into a paper of flowing and precise words. Reading is the interpretation of these words, picking out their meaning both as singular words and joined into neat sentences. As we draw more focus into writing, we have forgotten all about reading. Reading and writing together make writing better. Confused? Don’t worry! By the end of this article, you won’t be so turned around.

How We Teach Reading and Writing Together Now

Writing is a multi-step, multi-dimensional process that is the love/hate for many students and teachers alike. We are told so many things pertaining to writing that are absolute garbage one year, and the gold standard the next. With our own inconsistency on the subject, who can blame the student when they are confused about format, context, or the dreaded revision process? The many schools of thought about styles, MLA versus APA, word counts, and citations are the guiding process we are enforcing into our students to help prepare them for success in school and beyond. To add salt to the wound, students are not scoring as high with their reading comprehension, not even close. Somewhere between the 5-paragraph essay and college admission essays, our focus changed to writing instead of pulling these essential skills together. Changing our teaching styles, we make ourselves to be so hyper-focused on meeting benchmarks set by others who have never taught in a classroom that we miss the main point of teaching; to guide.

For too long, we have been the blind leading the blind. We rely on other people telling us theories that have been shown to be true, but do not translate into the classroom. That reading and writing, although both are equally important, reading is making and breaking our students in lower education and beyond. We must push them to read more! Writing is the most important thing in academia! Writing makes or breaks a college student! They need to improve their comprehension so they can understand the dissertation of this professor who shames them when they fail to write in the proper format. We do not have a reading or a writing problem; we have a blending problem.

Ask your students how they feel about writing their thoughts about a chosen topic. Ask yourself the same question. For 9 out of 10 people, the answer is a sigh of regret followed by an eyeroll. 1 out of 10 people like myself stand here in shock that no one likes to write like we do. Does this make us crazy or does this give us an advantage into the workings of the world. The answer is the latter. Writing is the match and reading is the flint that provides the light to interpret the world around you. Being able to express what you see, and feel is an important skill. Communication is a growing demand of employers, especially as we find ourselves in a digital age. It is no longer acceptable to just observe and sit silent; we must now more than ever express the things we see and feel in a way that others can also understand. This is where both skills come in to save the day, like the proverbial white horse.

How We Should Teach Reading and Writing

The writing process should start with the brainstorming of ideas. The process starts with the research of the ideas. Reading up on previously published materials from a wide variety of sources provides the questions you need to answer such as: “What should I write about? Who is my targeted audience? What is the purpose of what I am trying to express?” These questions help the author to set the scene in which their audience will observe their words, like audience members attending a Broadway show. The author sets the scene in which the writing will take place. The thesis statement is the summary of the show; a brief description of what the author is trying to state. A synopsis if you will. Once the stage is set, the building can begin. What building, you ask? The building of your paper! Looking back to your research process to pull the information that was verified or dismissed, turn this important reading step of the writing process into your original thoughts you had on the subject into the stage props. They make it so the body of your paper can start to come together. This is akin to the background and props in the Broadway show; they help to immerse you into the story itself. The next crucial step is to take these facts and organize them into the body of your work. This may sound complicated, but it really is a fancy way of saying to write your thoughts into paragraphs classified by each point you are trying to prove/disprove in your thesis statement. Placing your thoughts together in this manner is the choreography of the show. This controlled movement of words on a paper allows the reader to make the connections you are leading them to or arrive at the same conclusion that you did during the research period.

You’ve reached the point of “fleshing out” your paper; you have written down your ideas, double checked your facts and performed spell check. Hooray! You’ve finished, or have you? Like any good paper, any production worth their salt always has a dress rehearsal or three. The revision process is your dress rehearsal. Revision is key in allowing the facts and opinions have a true voice, just as the dress rehearsal allows the director to see how well all the different factors come together to make the production great. The revision process does the same thing for writing except it is heavily reading influenced. A person needs to read the paper with a fine-tooth comb and find pieces that do not work together, or simple errors of grammar. This is the crucial point of any paper; without a good revision process, the paper can fall flat or be off its mark entirely. It’s important to remember that this process can be tedious or lengthy at times, just as a director may need to change up blocks of choreography or change parts of the script to fit in with the interpretation of the background and the scene. These seemingly back-breaking pieces of the writing process allow for the greatest effort to be given by all involved in the show, and the reader to see the full potential of the author.

The final draft of the paper is the opening night of the Broadway show. The excitement fills the air like static electricity on a wool sweater. Scary, adrenaline-filled, nervous-to-the-point-of-nausea excitement as you submit that paper to your teacher, professor, or publisher. The process is finished, only to repeat itself again as needed for the next assignment. The skills I have just described to you, in colorful metaphors and detail, are a part of this writing process. This process is a train that should not be stopped; the notion that writing is the shining star of the show is preposterous. Reading is the key to writing. We need to shift the focus on strengthening our ability to make sense of our thoughts by transcribing them to paper. We also need to reinforce the skills needed to interpret those thoughts so we may all appreciate the full power of them. The focus must remain on combining these two for all our students to succeed, whether in elementary school or graduate school.


There has been a grave concern within the education field that students are lacking in comprehension skills due to their unwillingness to summarize what they have read. This is a problem we have given our students. If students cannot form the words to summarize what they have read, how can they tell you what they know? Students can better verbalize how they feel compared to writing how they feel. This is due to the strong push for reading comprehension and blow-back of writing. If we go back to the Broadway show example from before, and I ask you to review the show you watched, could you? For the most part, you can articulate words to express how the show moved you or taught you a lesson. This is a summary. As educators, we have approached this desire to summarize wrongly and now are paying the heavy price for it. But we can fix it. If you leave the Broadway show, you need your ticket to prove you purchased your seat. Reading and writing together make the ticket stub, allowing us to open the doors to the playhouse and retake our seats again.  If we remember our ticket stub, we can get into the show.


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Good Ideas About Writing Copyright © 2021 by Maureen Dreitlein is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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