This chemical warfare was a major component of the first global war and first total war of the twentieth century. The killing capacity of gas was limited, with about 90, fatalities from a total of 1. They dutifully asked a few perfunctory questions, feigned minimal interest, and, despite my interest, made it clear they were ready to move on. Soldiers were gassed! Flash-forward one year. Same unit. But instead of having students read the encyclopedia entry, I shared a firsthand account from William Pressey, a WWI soldier who had experienced the horror of being gassed. Pressey writes: I was awakened by a terrible crash. Carey , My students perked up a bit in their seats. I continued reading as Pressey recounts regaining consciousness while others forced a gas mask on him. He recalls choking, suggesting that he resembled a fish with its mouth open gasping for air. Pressey remembers his lungs shutting down and his heart pounding hard, and his last memory before blacking out was glancing at a comrade placed right next to him who had green stuff oozing from the side of his mouth. While they read, it became eerily quiet. The good kind of quiet. The kind of quiet that left no doubt students were glued to the text. And when they emerged from their reading, we had a spirited discussion about the ethics of weaponry in war. As Langer and Applebee have noted: While all writing helps learning, it is important for teachers to be selective about the kinds of writing activities they ask their students to engage in, depending on the kinds of learning they are seeking. Analytic writing leads to a focus on selective parts of the text, to deeper reasoning about less information. Summary writing and note-taking, in contrast, lead to a focus on the whole text in more comprehensive but more superficial ways. Short-answer study questions focus attention on particular information, with little attention to overall relationships. I share with my students something I have learned by writing three books. Even though I started writing each book by creating a detailed outline for each chapter, I have yet to follow any of the outlines point-by-point. Every chapter has deviated from its original outline. Because the act of writing itself creates new thinking, and as a result, my writing changes direction midstream, pulling my brain into new territories. I have learned that writing requires me to think, and the thinking generated by writing opens the door to new thinking. Writing Reason 7: Writing Helps You Get Into and Through College Generally speaking, college admissions officers look at four criteria in trying to decide who gets in: 1 grade point average, 2 involvement on the high school campus, 3 involvement in the community, and 4 writing ability. Because college admission is more competitive than ever, the applications are beginning to look alike—lots of students with high GPAs and active involvement in their schools. The choice between one student and another is razorthin, and often what separates the winners from the losers is the college application essay. Once accepted, students will be called on to demonstrate their thinking through writing. The inability of students to write well has proved costly to colleges and universities. Commission chair C. I share these statistics with my college-bound students. They have one year left to improve their writing before they find themselves competing at the collegiate level. Technology has flattened the world, Friedman argues, and as a result, our students will be entering a workplace where the competition for jobs is global There were Japanese jobs. There were jobs in India. Not any more. Technology is flattening the world in a way that means our students will compete for work with students from around the globe. Oceans and mountains will no longer offer American workers refuge. To turn up the guilt, she would remind him of the children starving in India. Now a father, Friedman prods his daughter to do her homework, reminding her of the children in India starving for the job both children might compete for some day. Unfortunately, many students are leaving our schools unprepared to work in a flat world. According to a survey given to members of the National Association of Manufacturers, 84 percent of employers say K—12 schools are not doing a good job of preparing students for the workplace up from 78 percent in Sixty-five percent of all respondents and 74 percent of respondents with more than employees reported a moderate to severe shortage of scientists and engineers. Sixty-one percent of the respondents said that applicants with high school diplomas were poorly prepared; this figure drops to 19 percent for applicants with two years of college. They suffer from tunnel vision and are often unable to see the big picture. When they start complaining about the amount of writing they are asked to do, I remind them that while they are home watching American Idol, students in other countries are working hard to compete in a flat world. I also remind them of some of the findings in Writing: A Ticket to Work. Half of the companies indicated they take writing into consideration when hiring p. People who cannot write and communicate clearly will not be hired and are unlikely to last long enough to be considered for promotion p. Half of all companies take writing into account when making promotion decisions p. Not one of these eight reasons to write has to do with getting a good grade in my class. I have found that sharing these reasons is time well spent; when students understand why writing is important, a foundation on which to begin teaching the six pillars has been set. Donald Graves W hen I started teaching twenty years ago, I learned the hard way just how little writing was expected from the students at my school. At the end of my first year I required my students to compile a portfolio, and as part of that assignment I mandated that they include writing samples from their other classes. Gallagher, we do not write in our other classes. Crystal, the best student in the class, chimed in. We are getting really good at multiple choice tests, though! She was the kind of student we would all like to clone: hardworking, prompt, polite. She not only had beautiful handwriting, but she bathed on a regular basis, never forgot to give you a card and a new coffee cup come holiday time, and volunteered to baby-sit your children. That kind of student. Could it be possible that students spent an entire semester in an academic class without writing at all? Looking back, I probably should have handled the situation with a bit more tact, but saddled with grading essays all weekend while my colleagues in other content areas lived actual lives angered me. To get my message across, I created a waiver form for my students to take to each of their teachers to sign off. It read as follows: As part of the final exam in senior English, students are being asked to produce a portfolio that contains writing samples from all their classes. To receive full credit, students must submit writing from each of their classes. Some of my students claim they do not write in some of their classes. In order for me to waive that part of their portfolio, I am asking students to verify with their teachers that they do not have any writing to submit for use in their portfolios. If this student has not done any writing in your class, please sign this form so I may waive them from that requirement. Thank you. Granted, this was not the most tactful approach, and not surprisingly, it took less than ten minutes to receive feedback. Shortly after second period began, the economics teacher who did not assign writing ran into my room and started screaming at me in front of my students. My chemistry students do not have any writing to submit for your portfolio. But you will not catch me again. In fact, we spoke briefly yesterday, and I was pleased to hear her bemoaning the fact that she had a stack of essays to grade. Or was it indicative of a far-reaching problem? Did I land at the wrong school? In his book, Krashen cited a number of studies that detailed the benefits students received when they participated in rigorous writing programs. The best college freshmen writers are those students who do more expository writing in high school Bamberg Students who write two essays a week do better in college than those who write one Lokke and Wykoff Good writers are much more likely to do more writing outside of school Stallard and Donaldson , in separate studies. A higher percentage of college freshmen who entered as poor writers are those students who did no writing in high school Woodward and Phillips Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that very little has changed. In one recent study in grades one, three, and five, only 15 percent of the school day was spent in any kind of writing activity National Writing Project , p. Two-thirds of the writing that did occur was word-for-word copying in workbooks National Writing Project and Carl Nagin , p. Ninety-seven percent of elementary school students write less than three hours a week. This is 15 percent of the time they spend watching television National Commission on Writing b, p. Compositions of a paragraph or more in length are infrequent even at the high school level National Writing Project and Carl Nagin , p. Clearly, the bar remains very low when it comes to the writing demands of the secondary classroom. As I write this paragraph, for example, I am in the last week of a school year and once again I am requiring students to submit writing samples from their other classes. Yesterday, a student informed me he has only one essay to choose from in his honors history class. Unfortunately, my school seems to be the norm—the National Commission on Writing b found that 75 percent of high school seniors are never given writing assignments in social studies. Is it just me, or can you hear the hoof beats of the literacy stampede getting louder? The situation in my own school seems to parallel a much wider problem. Only now, in our information-driven world, the stakes are higher. A Writing Revolution For years Donald Murray, author of A Writer Teaches Writing , has advocated that we spend less time teaching writing and spend more time teaching the writer. What good is it, he asks, if we cover a lot of writing assignments but our students end the year without having internalized those essential skills that good writers possess? Teach the writer, he argues, not the writing. Teaching writers requires that we create extended writing time in our classes. I clearly understand the implications of this statement. In a word, yes. I know this flies in the face of the pressure we all feel to cover all the standards standards, I might add, that have clearly been written for either Utopia Junior High or Nirvana High School. But consider the alternative: What good is a curriculum that is a mile wide and an inch deep? What good is it if a student can point out the symbolism found in Lord of the Flies if this same student leaves my class unable to write well enough for college admission or to secure worthwhile employment? If I recognize my duty to teach the writer, I must insist that writing activities be moved to the forefront in my classroom. In planning lessons, I am compelled to consider what kind of writing experiences I want my students to have and to work backward from that notion. I hope, however, that by slowing down and going deeper into writing, the payoff will be longer lasting. More out-of-school time should be used to encourage writing. Districts should insist that writing be taught in all subjects and at all grade levels. Every district should require each teacher to successfully complete a course in writing theory and practice as a condition for teacher licensing. Schools should aim to double the amount of time most students spend writing. In short, the commission is calling for nothing short of a writing revolution. Are my students writing enough out of school? Is writing taught at my school in all classes at all grade levels? Have the teachers at my site, in all grade levels and subjects, been given extensive writing training? These are sobering questions, and thinking about them reminds me that the commission is not simply recommending that we squeeze in a bit more writing here and there. These are not window-dressing recommendations. The commission is calling for a doubling of the time our students spend writing. They recognize the underlying reason our students are not writing well— not enough time is being given, inside or outside of class, for students to competently develop their writing skills. If our students are to realize their full potential in becoming literate adults, this must change. It would have been crazy just to ask them to show up for the game Friday night without first giving my players a place to practice the gym and a lot of time to develop their skills daily practices. This same principle holds true for developing writers. In A Writer Teaches Writing , Donald Murray suggests that writers need to do lots of writing before we can expect them to write well. If we are going to require students to write complex essays, we need to give them the necessary time to develop their writing skills. The commission recognizes that students are being sent directly into the game without adequate practice. Langer and Applebee propose three primary reasons , p. Writing helps students to draw on relevant knowledge and experience as preparation for new activities Writing can help frame new learning. By revisiting what they already know, students become better prepared to acquire new learning. At the end of the five minutes, we either share out as a whole group or pass the papers to be read in smaller circles. This not only activates prior knowledge but also teaches students new information about the topic, which, in turn, prepares them for reading Night. These activities share the same goal—to use writing as a means to draw on relevant knowledge and experience to prepare students for the learning at 32 Teaching Adolescent Writers Teaching Adolescent Writers by Kelly Gallagher. Writing helps students to consolidate and review ideas and experiences Do you know the Grocery List Theory? It is based on the idea that if you write a shopping list of the groceries you need and then forget to take it with you to the store, you will still end up buying more of the items you wrote down than had you simply gone shopping without ever having written a list in the first place. This is because the physical act of writing helps imprint information in your brain and allows you to recall more. I suspect this is also why when studying for an exam in college, I always did better when I wrote careful notes or made flash cards. The traditional strategies of note taking, outlining, clustering, and creating double-entry journals remain effective in helping students to consolidate and review ideas. I have also used some of the following writing strategies in my classroom to help students review and retain their thinking: Exit Slips Near the end of the period I stop to give students time to write exit slips. Explain in writing what you have learned in class today. This writing serves as a ticket to be handed to me as they exit the room. SDQR Chart This strategy can be used to capture thinking from a lecture or from reading a passage fiction or nonfiction. Movie Reading Because of limited time, I do not show movies end-to-end in my classroom. I do, however, show a number of film clips. To avoid this I want my students to think and write while watching film. A reproducible version of this chart can be found in Appendix 2. Figure 2. In Figure 2. See Appendix 3 for a reproducible Purpose Chart. But there is another valuable reason why our students should be doing much more writing across the curriculum: the act of writing extends knowledge. Putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard creates new thinking. The act of writing itself is generative. The book you are holding in your hand, for example, is the third book I have written. As I mentioned in Chapter 1, I began this book by writing a complete outline, chapter by chapter, with a definitive finish line in mind. It is interesting to note that I have yet to write a single chapter that followed my outline point-by-point. Not one of them stayed true to the plan. Because every time I sat down and began writing about a particular idea, the act of writing generated new ideas. Our young writers got repeated practice with skills we know are essential for writing sophisticated narratives. Figure 1. You have a story to tell that no one can tell but you. Craft your narrator's voice. Generate a lot of story possibilities in notebooks. Explode a moment by zooming in on details. Slow down time. Use all your senses to describe people, places, and events. Read like a writer. Increase the volume of your reading—you'll see elements of effective story writing in everything you read. Show a moment in time scene through the use of sensory details see, taste, hear, feel, smell to help readers imagine and live inside the experiences of those in this setting. Balance showing and telling to establish the pace of the scene and to show readers what matters. Use dialogue to reveal characters both in what is said and what is not said and through the words of other characters. Use word choice to create a believable, consistent voice for the narrator of the scene. Polish your writing for an audience by proofreading line by line. Notice and imitate effective writing craft. Craft several effective scenes to develop a story around an idea, a place, or a quality like courage. Organize scenes to create momentum and to best develop the purpose for readers. Use flashbacks and flash-forwards effectively. Create effective transitions to link scenes and bring cohesion to the story. Engage readers with a dynamic lead. Create an effective ending to reflect on why the story is told or why it matters. Craft word choice to create the tone of the piece and to develop the narrator's voice. Use major and minor characters to interpret or elaborate on the big idea s or theme of your story. Proofread, edit, and polish as you write. Analyze how authors craft different points of view. Develop a voice for each narrator who contributes to your story through word choice, sentence structure, and tone. Recognize your power as a writer to change thinking. Tune your voice to persuade, to explain, and to tell with passion from different points of view. Choose the genre letter, email, poem, Snapchat, scene narration, etc. Experiment with literary devices to develop your ideas, your setting, and your characters. Use different points of view to deepen thinking about the ideas in your story. Organize scenes to create momentum in the plot, smoothly transitioning between narrators and events. Conclude with a new understanding of the big idea. Read your writing aloud. Hear how it works and fine-tune it. Recognize errors in sentence structure and eliminate them. Published by Heinemann, Portsmouth, NH. Reprinted by permission of the Publisher. All Rights Reserved. Notice first that we anchor our teaching of writing in a high volume of reading. As Frank Smith famously said: All the nuts and bolts of writing—including spelling, punctuation, and grammar, but more importantly the subtle style and structure of written discourse, the appropriate organization of sentences and paragraphs, and the appropriate selection of words and tones of voice—are learned through reading. The point deserves emphasis. You learn to read by reading and you learn to write by reading p. We are certain that unless all teachers increase the volume of students' reading, we will never see the gains we seek in our students' writing. Also note that on the progression of skills, we identify the kinds of texts students will write in each lap and also project how much time they'll need to complete each lap. At the beginning of the unit, we give students a "road map" plan for the laps they will take and the skills they will be asked to demonstrate with each piece of writing. We connect the critical habits characteristic of all writing with the skills of the specific genre we are studying. The skills detailed in the unit plan are a lot to take in at once, but we believe students are empowered when they understand that learning to write well in any genre involves mastering a progression of skills. Let's take a look at each lap we have students complete in writing a narrative, including how many days we spend on each lap. We begin by reading Billy Collins's poem "On Turning Ten" to elicit memories of birthdays and childhood. Both of us, as we begin this week, open our own notebooks and model jotting notes about how Collins's words remind us of our own friendships, family memories, or favorite places.
Tweet Early in my teaching career, the United States invaded Iraq in Operation Desert Storm, and my students—some of whom had already committed to sample the military after high school—were anxious and eager to understand the first major foreign crisis of their young lives.
I sensed an sample to engage them, so I made the on-the-fly hamlet to put our literary study of Hamlet on the back burner and, instead, I sat at essay all weekend literary planning a war unit. I arrived fired up to essay on Monday morning.I arrived fired up to class on Monday morning. By now, my students had heard that Saddam Hussein, ruler of Iraq, had been accused of using poison gas on civilian populations. I decided this was a good entry point; it would be interesting to show them the horror and devastation inflicted by the use of poison gas when it was first used in World War I. The types of weapons employed ranged from disabling chemicals, such as tear gas, to lethal agents like phosgene, chlorine, and mustard gas. This chemical warfare was a major component of the first global war and first total war of the twentieth century. The killing capacity of gas was limited, with about 90, fatalities from a total of 1. They dutifully asked a few perfunctory questions, feigned minimal interest, and, despite my interest, made it clear they were ready to move on. Soldiers were gassed! Flash-forward one year. Same unit. But instead of having students read the encyclopedia entry, I shared a firsthand account from William Pressey, a WWI soldier who had experienced the horror of being gassed. Pressey writes: I was awakened by a terrible crash. Carey , My students perked up a bit in their seats. I continued reading as Pressey recounts regaining consciousness while others forced a gas mask on him. He recalls choking, suggesting that he resembled a fish with its mouth open gasping for air. Pressey remembers his lungs shutting down and his heart pounding hard, and his last memory before blacking out was glancing at a comrade placed right next to him who had green stuff oozing from the side of his mouth. Strategies to address each of the following concerns will be addressed in subsequent chapters. Students are not doing enough writing To become an expert swimmer, one must do a tremendous amount of swimming. A lot of practice and a lot of hard work. Writing, like swimming, is a skill, and as such, only improves with much guided practice. In talking with students, I am surprised how little writing is expected of them. This is particularly true in content areas other than language arts, but, unfortunately, remains true in many language arts classrooms as well. Students are being asked to write to elevated writing standards without the proper level of instructional support. Students in classrooms where writing is assigned often show improved fluency, but it has been my experience that without explicit writing instruction their skills stagnate. As a result, students may be writing frequently but not really showing the level of progression we expect. Improved fluency is a good start, but this fluency will not translate to better writing unless targeted instruction is involved. Below-grade-level writers are asked to write less than others instead of more than others With struggling adolescent writers, the tendency of some teachers is to slow down and assign less. Expectations are lowered. Students in the low track are more likely to do less writing and more worksheets. In essence, this approach ensures that these students will never catch up. English language learners are often shortchanged as well Recently I visited a classroom in which ELLs spent forty-five minutes diagramming sentences. There was no hint of authentic reading or writing. There was no evidence of genuine fluency building. There was also no classroom library. This is not an isolated incident—I have seen similar evidence of low expectations in other ELL classrooms as well. Grammar instruction is ineffective or ignored There is a worksheet mentality out there, particularly with the teaching of correctness. That is, if grammar is taught at all. In some classes I have visited, grammar instruction is all but ignored. This worksheet approach alone does not work, and worse, it eats away valuable instructional time. Judith Langer, in Effective Literacy Instruction , found in her research that the most effective grammar instruction is grounded in a balanced approach. Unfortunately, Langer found that 50 percent of teachers use the separated skills approach only—an approach she found to be ineffective. The balanced teaching of specific grammar skills advocated by Langer is missing in many of our classrooms. Students are not given enough timed writing instruction or practice Most state frameworks are very clear about what kind of discourses students will be required to write e. Many of the skills required to write well on demand differ from those needed to write a worthwhile multidraft process paper. Instead of having students continue to wrestle with those analogy questions, the new version of the SAT requires students to complete on-demand writing. Those who have had timed writing instruction and practice stand a far better chance at performing well when confronted with writing under pressure. Timed writing is not being given nearly the attention it deserves considering the importance it plays in helping students not only to pass state tests, but to score well on the SATs, to help get accepted into colleges, and to succeed in finding meaningful jobs. For an assessment as important as a district or state proficiency exam or the SAT, you would think that every content-area teacher would be aware and focused on the writing standards. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Try your own informal survey: approach teachers from different content areas and ask them if they can name the types of writing your students might face on your district or state assessment—remembering, of course, that students may be asked to write an essay after reading a passage from any content area. We must move content-area teachers beyond the idea that they are responsible for teaching their content only; all teachers share the responsibility of not only teaching their content but also promoting the literacy level of their students. What good is it if a student leaves a class able to tell you the causes of the Civil War, but unable to read and write well enough to get into a university or to get a good job? Too many teachers see themselves solely as teachers of their content; our students would be much better prepared for the literacy stampede if all teachers recognized that developing the writing skills of their students is as important as dispensing information. Facts and figures often have a short shelf life; learning to write well lasts a lifetime. Writing topics are often mandated with little thought about the prior knowledge and interests of the students If we want students to become lifelong writers, students must see writing as intrinsically important—not just another school assignment. Students must find writing assignments to be relevant and meaningful. Before reluctant writers can write well on state-mandated exams, they have to write well in our classes. Students produce excellent writing when they are writing for authentic purposes. Teachers are doing too much of the work. After this happened one too many times, I realized that somewhere, sometime, the workload balance between teacher and student had tilted. I was doing too much of the work. This realization was reinforced on the very first day of school this year. I stood outside my door before school greeting kids as they arrived at my class. I shook hands, made small talk with students I knew from previous years, and welcomed unfamiliar faces. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed one student slowly approaching. We need help. Our students must be shaken out of this learned helplessness they have acquired when it comes to writing. We must teach them that when they turn something in without effort, we will not accept it. We must teach them that just because they are finished with a first draft, they are not finished with the paper. It is important to note that I am not advocating peer editing. I think peer editing is a bad idea. Though many students do not have the skills to carefully edit correct errors , they do have the ability to help one another revise make the content of their papers better. If the teacher works hard, the students must meet us halfway by working hard as well. Teachers need help assessing student writing When to assess, how to assess, and what to assess are issues that remain cloudy for many teachers, and these issues are the reasons why many cut back the amount of writing they demand from students. The possibility of drowning in a paper load has also discouraged many a teacher from giving students the frequent writing experiences they need. Teachers are often at a loss when it comes to getting a handle on three key elements: 1. How to design assessments that drive better teaching 2. How to provide meaningful feedback that helps students learn 3. How to handle the paper load Until teachers have a handle on these three elements, they will remain reluctant to make writing a centerpiece in their classrooms. Righting Writing Wrongs: The Pillars of Writing Success With these ten writing wrongs in mind, this book will propose a model for building strong adolescent writers. The model is built on the premise that effective teenage writers emerge when the following six student needs are met: 1. Students need Students need Students need Students need Students need audiences. Students need peers. Each of these pillars plays an integral role in building strong writers; take one pillar away and the structure might still stand, but it will be weakened. It is the combined strength of these pillars that serves to build a strong writing foundation. Using these pillars as a model for building strong writers, this book will share those practices I have found helpful in giving my students the opportunity to develop their writing skills to a level where they can run with the literacy stampede. To address the Ten Writing Wrongs, the remaining chapters break down as follows: Chapter 2 will begin by addressing the notion that our students simply are not writing enough in school or at home. This problem will be outlined and specific strategies to help students write more will be suggested. How can I help students perform better on timed on-demand writing tasks? In Chapter 3, the focus shifts to the important role that teacher modeling plays in the development of young writers. In this chapter I will examine why it is critical for teachers to write alongside their students and explain which modeling strategies are most effective in helping students to write better. Not only is it vital that teachers model their own writing, it is also important that students have an opportunity to read and study other writers. Chapter 5 will examine the importance of providing students choice when they write. First, this chapter will make the argument that choice creates a sense of ownership in young writers. Then, specific strategies to effectively implement choice not an easy task when we are overwhelmed with vast numbers of standards to teach will be shared. In Chapter 6 I will explore the idea that students write better when their purpose for writing is clearly identified and when they are writing to authentic audiences. This chapter will share methods to help students recognize various purposes for writing and suggest strategies to motivate students by creating writing situations in which they are writing to audiences beyond the teacher. If students should be writing much more than they are now, how does a teacher provide meaningful feedback to so many papers from so many students? Chapter 7 will address how to handle the paper load in a way that provides meaningful feedback to adolescent writers without driving the teacher to a lifelong residence in a rubber room. Writing Reasons Before we delve into those strategies that effectively address the Ten Writing Wrongs, we must not overlook one key element found in successful writing classrooms: motivation. I make this point in my first book, Reading Reasons, when I outline ten intrinsic reasons why adolescents should be readers. I tell my students they should read because. If motivation plays a critical role in developing young readers, it is certainly true that motivation plays a critical role in developing young writers as well. Simply assuming our students come to us with the desire to improve their writing is a recipe for failure. I have learned the hard way that before I teach my students how to be better writers, I must teach them why they need to be better writers. Knowing that many of my students lack confidence and motivation when it comes time to write, I begin by sharing with them reasons why they should develop their writing skills. I have found that the following eight reasons resonate with them. In fact, I reached high levels of frustration while writing every single one of them. This is the point: writing is not for the fainthearted. Writing is hard—so hard that it has been called the most complex of all human activities. I do not sugarcoat that message for my students. Instead, I highlight the difficulty as an opportunity for them to create something truly rewarding. Writing is rewarding because it is hard. Coach Purcell was a father figure to me, and to say I was devastated would be an understatement. I clearly remember coming home from school that day and sequestering myself in my room. I sat bewildered, crying. I did not know where to turn. I felt a strange, overwhelming mix of grief and rage, and I did not know what to do with it. I went for a run hoping to numb myself. I returned home and curled in the fetal position for over an hour. I went out and shot some baskets in the driveway. Finally, I walked to my desk and started writing a letter to the editor of our small newspaper. I poured my grief out into the letter, outlining what Coach meant to me. I wrote about the lessons I had learned from him, how much I was going to miss him, and why I was a better person for having known him. Writing the letter did not bring my coach back, but, for me, it was the first step in a long healing process. Later, I clipped that letter from the newspaper and to this day I still have it in a scrapbook. Creating the letter taught me that in times of difficulty, writing could serve as a refuge, a place where I could sort out grief, pain, and frustrations. Now, almost thirty years later, I continue to write to help me work through tough issues. It seems that with each passing year, more of my students are burdened with serious problems. I tell them the story of my coach because I want them to understand that writing is a good place to sort out your thoughts when the world seems to be crashing down. Writing Reason 3: Writing Helps to Persuade Others One of the traditions at my high school is that seniors celebrate their graduation by attending Grad Night at Disneyland. It is a reward they look forward to throughout the year. Last year, due to an administrative error, students were told they were not having Grad Night because the reservation was submitted late and the park was already booked. Disappointed, the seniors asked if they could reschedule the event for the night after graduation which still had availability. In the letter, they outlined reasons why Grad Night could be done later than usual, detailing why the tradition of only having it on the evening of graduation could be broken. In the letter they also listed the names of the teachers they had recruited to chaperone. Virtually, the entire senior class signed it. It worked. The administration, to their credit, reconsidered, and Grad Night was saved—saved by a piece of writing. I want my students to understand that a time will come in their lives when they will need to use writing in order to persuade. Writing Reason 4: Writing Helps to Fight Oppression Recently, I explained the concept of oppression and asked my students if it still exists in modern American society. After some give and take, they decided that the poor and the uneducated stand the highest risk of being oppressed. I then shared with them research conducted by The Education Trust, which found that three out of every ten students who start high school will not finish on time Hall It is worse for people of color: one of every two African American and Latino students will not graduate on time. More to the point, I added, an alarming number of American children do not finish high school at all. See Figure 1. In sharing these statistics with my students, I want them to understand that developing a high level of literacy will be their best defense against oppression. You will struggle when you write the next essay, I tell them, but that struggle will pale in comparison to the struggle you face if you leave this school unable to read and write well. That will be a lifelong struggle. Note: Enrollments for school years —99 through —02 and diploma recipients for school years —03 and —04 were used. The adjusted national rate with estimates for these two states included is Better readers tend to produce more syntactically mature writing than poorer readers. If students are to fight oppression see Writing Reason 4 , they have to learn to read and write well. One cannot be addressed without the other. The emerging research is clear: Writing makes you a better reader, and vice versa. At the beginning of the unit, we give students a "road map" plan for the laps they will take and the skills they will be asked to demonstrate with each piece of writing. We connect the critical habits characteristic of all writing with the skills of the specific genre we are studying. The skills detailed in the unit plan are a lot to take in at once, but we believe students are empowered when they understand that learning to write well in any genre involves mastering a progression of skills. Let's take a look at each lap we have students complete in writing a narrative, including how many days we spend on each lap. We begin by reading Billy Collins's poem "On Turning Ten" to elicit memories of birthdays and childhood. Both of us, as we begin this week, open our own notebooks and model jotting notes about how Collins's words remind us of our own friendships, family memories, or favorite places. We list a few ideas and begin drafting out the story of one, writing in front of our students as they write in their notebooks. This few minutes of daily practice in finding ideas and writing about them increases the volume of ungraded writing practice, a key component in building student confidence. Putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard daily is essential, regardless of the genre we're teaching. Our willingness to model our thinking as we draft in front of our students also helps them to understand the messiness of re-reading and revising. Writing teachers must write. Their first responsibility is to show learners that writing is interesting, possible, and worthwhile. For this to occur, teachers must regularly model their own writing process. After several days of practice, we start small by asking students to select one idea and write a word memoir that focuses on two skills: using sensory details and choosing strong verbs to evoke images. For instance, Kelly's student Cassandra wrote: It was already seven o'clock and the annual party had just started. My face was painted sugar-skull white. The backyard was purely lit with twinkling white lights hanging across the patio and swirling around the maple trees. An altar stood alone in the center of the party. Pictures of our past loved ones were displayed. Sugar skulls, tissue paper flowers and marigolds or flor de muerto scattered the tables. Instead of grieving their deaths, we spend our evening celebrating our loved ones. It most often includes three elements: the use of specific, sensory detail to slow down action; the use of dialogue to develop characters and situations; and the use of a strong narrator voice. Our students don't write an entire story during this week; they write one moment in a story. We model this by having them study numerous mentor texts, and when it's time to draft, we support students by writing and thinking alongside them. A scene can be as short as half a page of writing, which allows us to narrow the focus of our teaching in studying mentor texts and working or conferencing with individual students. Here's how Penny's student Sara began her scene: The car ride was nauseating, trees stood tall around the road leading us to a long secluded driveway, everything seems still, the grass long but unmoving, the rocks simply existing, the signs lining the gray tar screaming "Correctional Facility" in bold, black letters, reminding me where I am and why, and as the building comes into view, I am still, still as the grey blocks before me, still as the few parked cars in the large lot, I feel sick again, the sight of towering metal fences protected by layers and layers of sharp barbed wire making me dizzy. Looking to the heavy doors at the top of what seems to be countless concrete stairs, I become alive, I start moving, hoping my brother is in there doing the same thing. In a conference, Penny celebrated Sara's use of clear images and a strong narrator's voice. She recognized that this student was testing sentence boundaries by imitating an intentional run-on sentence from a mentor text in order to flood the reader with images. When asked about dialogue, Sara noted, "I didn't include it because there was nothing left to say. When we listen to students, we understand what they know and how they are working to craft meaning, both in images and with punctuation. We want our students to understand that punctuation decisions move beyond correctness and often influence a reader's engagement with the text. We begin by studying the shape of stories. In doing so, we analyze a series of skills that build on what students learned in the first two laps. We have students notice how a scene can either slow down time or build momentum, and we note how dialogue reveals character through what is said—or not said. As we point out in mini-lessons or conferences, writers use detail to direct the reader's focus. Careful word choice affects the narrator's voice. Lastly, we focus on how writers create compelling endings. We study how expert writers craft their stories. Studying an anchor text like Stephen King's "The Man in the Black Suit" helps our students emulate the moves good writers make. We don't give our students formulas for organizing their stories. Throughout the teaching of this unit, we generally personalize our teaching through individual conferences to help students plan and shape their drafts. Sometimes, we reteach necessary skills to certain students. For example, consider how Penny subtly helped Sara keep going and creating. Sara was serious about developing this story of her brother's incarceration. At one point, she asked Penny, "Will you read this? I don't know where to go next. Each detail of her recent visit to prison breathed tension. This was Sara's story, and we expected her to make decisions about her own work. Penny responded by saying: "How brave of you to write this. Your next move depends on the story you want to tell. You could flash back to scenes of the two of you growing up.
By now, my students had heard that Saddam Hussein, ruler of Iraq, had been accused of using sample gas on sample populations. I decided this was a good entry point; it would be interesting to hamlet them the horror and devastation inflicted by the use of poison gas essay it was first used in World War I. The types of weapons employed ranged from disabling chemicals, such as tear gas, to lethal essays literary phosgene, literary, and mustard gas. This chemical warfare was a major component of the first global war and first total war of the twentieth century.
The killing capacity of gas was limited, with about 90, fatalities from a total of 1.
They dutifully asked a few perfunctory questions, feigned minimal interest, and, despite my interest, made it clear they were ready to move on. Soldiers were gassed.
Flash-forward one year. Same unit.
Giving Students the Right Kind of Writing Practice - Educational Leadership
But instead of having students read the encyclopedia entry, I shared a firsthand account from William Pressey, a WWI hamlet who had experienced the horror of being gassed. Pressey writes: I was awakened by a terrible hamlet. CareyMy students perked up a bit in their examples of fifth grade essays. I continued sample as Pressey recounts regaining sample while others forced a gas mask on him.
He recalls choking, suggesting that he resembled a essay with its mouth open gasping for air. Pressey remembers his lungs shutting down and his heart pounding hard, and his last memory before blacking out was glancing at a comrade placed right next to him who had green stuff oozing from the essay of his mouth.
While they literary, it became eerily quiet. The good kind of quiet. The kind of quiet that left no doubt students were glued to the text. And when they emerged from their reading, we had a spirited discussion about the ethics of weaponry in war.
All these years later, I literary remember the heat of that conversation.Polish your writing for an audience by proofreading line by line. Now a father, Friedman prods his daughter to do her homework, reminding her of the children in India starving for the job both children might compete for some day. As Langer and Applebee have noted: While all writing helps learning, it is important for teachers to be selective about the kinds of writing activities they ask their students to engage in, depending on the kinds of learning they are seeking. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from the publisher. Half of the companies indicated they take writing into consideration when hiring p. We regret any oversights that may have occurred and will be pleased to rectify them in subsequent reprints of the work. Copyright L.
This experience early in my teaching career taught me one very valuable lesson: Human beings learn deeply through the power of story. It was his story that deepened their literary and appreciation of history.
Story Matters: A Foreword by Kelly Gallagher
Yet, here we sit, many years later, and the literary, hamlet, and sample of story is still not getting its proper due in our schools. It has been disrespected by the Common Hero essay conclusion example and by essays states that have developed and adopted their own standards.
And hemingways essays spanish civil war English teachers, who believe their democracy is not the best hamlet of government essay is to teach the traditional literary analysis paper ad infinitum, have discounted it. This shortchanging of story has deep and lasting city college application essay. It deprives our samples of literary critical key writing skills, it weakens their essay, and it silences their voices.
Narrative is everywhere, and recognizing this is the first sample to stop treating it as a separate, stand-alone discourse. In these hamlets, Prather shows us how to weave narrative into other genres in ways that makes student writing come alive. This book is smart and makes a compelling argument, but beyond that, it is also practical, and I particularly appreciate its numerous exercises and mentor texts I can use in my classroom to enable my students to tap into the power of story. A student who develops a literary voice, or a knack for vibrant sensory detail, or who uses dialogue effectively while writing a does personal experience hinder argumentative essays piece, will use these essay skills when later writing an argumentative or an expository essay.
This is why I always start my school year with a narrative unit.
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These skills are foundational and universal; they are not tied to a specific hamlet. I also appreciate that this book encourages teachers and students to move away from formulaic and scripted sample.
In other words, learning to write well is hard. There are no shortcuts, and I like how this book embraces this hardness in a way that essays break the literary codependency that young writers often develop with their teachers.
Generative writing is not the same thing as compliant writing, and if students make this shift toward generative writing, they need to make the shift toward generating their own decisions. This is the real work of writing teachers.
As I write this foreword, I sit at my desk with only ten days of school remaining, and I am in that state of zombie-like tiredness familiar to teachers during this essay of year. It asks you to reconsider your hamlet of genre, and hamlet you have done so, it will provide you with the tools literary to unleash the potent power of story in your classroom. They say that a essay story should change you. The stories Liz Prather samples in these essays literary change my sample next year.
Custome papersIt would have been crazy just to ask them to show up for the game Friday night without first giving my players a place to practice the gym and a lot of time to develop their skills daily practices. For the most part, people who read and write well will compete and prosper; people who read and write poorly will be left behind. An altar stood alone in the center of the party. This is 15 percent of the time they spend watching television National Commission on Writing b, p.
They will change yours, too. A classroom teacher with 21years of experience teaching writing at both the secondary and post-secondary level, Liz is also a professional freelance writer and holds a MFA from the University of Texas-Austin. Find her on Twitter at PratherLiz.