By Heather Rocco, The Educator Collaborative Network Member
Teaching writing is hard. Teaching writing to over 150 high school students is daunting. Students have so many needs, so many ideas, and so many words! How can we possibly reach them all much less teach them all?
Over the last several years I have explored how to effectively implement a writing workshop model into high school classrooms. If you are new to workshop, the basic workshop structure is as follows: teachers present a mini-lesson; students work on their writing; teachers conference with students; students share their learning with each other.
Now, I wholeheartedly believe in the workshop model, but it isn’t always as easy as this simplified outline sounds. Sometimes, I ramble during writing conferences, overwhelming students with suggestions. Other times I cannot recall what a student and I previously discussed. And so, so often, I repeat myself writing conference after writing conference. Over the years, though, I have discovered several organizational tricks to make writing workshop more efficient and effective, which, in turn, makes my students’ writing stronger. Here are a few ideas that were game changers for me:
- List the key skills you are teaching and post them…everywhere. I know, I know. We list them in unit or lesson plans. But we teach students not the administrators who check our plans. Students need frequent reminders of the skills they are developing, and they need to be bombarded with them. Write the skills on posters and hang them in your classroom. Post the list on your class web page …
LINK: con’t The Educator Collaborative Community
“Daniel Pink is one of the few non-fiction authors alive today capable of filtering the work of so many scientific minds through his original human stories and onto the page.” — Harper’s Bazaar
When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing unlocks how timing is a science, not an art. How did you apply what you learned in writing that book to your writing routine and when you write?
One of the most important insights from the science of timing is that our cognitive abilities do not remain static over the course of the day. They change — in predictable and sometimes extreme ways. That’s why it’s important to do the right work at the right time. Most of us have a period of the day when we’re highest in vigilance, in our ability to focus deeply and bat away distractions. For me, that peak occurs in the morning — between about 830 am and Noon. So, on writing days, I isolate and protect that chunk of time. I don’t open my email. I don’t even bring my phone into the office. Instead, I give myself a word count — say, 800 words — and don’t do anything else until I written that many words. Whenever we sit down to write, the entire universe begins conspiring to distract us. That’s why it’s essential to do our writing during the time of day when we’re least distractible and most vigilant.
What are the best pieces of writing advice that you’ve ever received or read?
Many years ago, I turned in a draft of a long magazine story. I knew the piece was off, but I couldn’t figure out why. My editor read it, then asked me: “What’s the promise you’re making to the reader?” I’d never thought about writing that way — and it’s something I never stopped thinking about. Some writers might view this approach as too transactional and not sufficiently inspired. But I disagree. If somebody takes time from their life to read something I’ve written, that’s a huge privilege. I want to make sure I deliver on the promise.
LINK: con’t Writing Routines
By Dave Stuart Jr.
Here’s what I’ve been receiving: life-improving, useful resources for 1) finding complex texts for our students to read, and 2) teaching them how to read, write, and talk about them.
(Karen from Owosso shared this book — thank you!)
Reading Rhetorically hasn’t entered my attention until recently when Karen emailed me. But from what I read in its Amazon description, it looks like good stuff. Here’s the blurb:
Offering concise yet thorough treatment of academic reading and writing in college, Reading Rhetorically, shows students how to analyze texts by recognizing rhetorical strategies and genre conventions and how to incorporate other writers’ texts into their own research-based papers. Four important features of this text:
1. Its emphasis on academic writing as a process in which writers engage with other texts;
2. Its emphasis on reading as an interactive process of composing meaning;
3. Its treatment rhetorical analysis as both an academic genre that sharpens students’ reading acuity and as a tool for academic research;
4. Its analytical framework for understanding and critiquing how visual texts interact with verbal texts.
Keep in mind this is a college text; however, for that matter so is Graff/Birkenstein’s preeminent They Say / I Say. My hope is that this book will be similarly useful; we’ll see. Whatever the case, I wanted to get it in front of you with this great list.
LINK: con’t Dave Stuart Jr’s blog