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In my experience, I’ve found that students appreciate having a clear picture of what’s expected of them when beginning a writing assignment.At this time, I also show them a model of a piece of writing that meets the requirements of the assignment.I would ask students which author they feel did the best job of influencing the reader, and what suggestions they would make to improve the writing.
Then they take turns explaining why they are standing in that position.
This ultimately looks a little bit like a debate, as students from either side tend to defend their position to those on the other side.
I look for and put together resources that would appeal to any teacher who teaches any subject.
That practice will continue for as long as I keep this up.
Then again, I’m always interested in how other people do the things I can already do; maybe you’re curious like that, too.
Before I start, I should note that what I describe in this post is a fairly formulaic style of essay writing.Ideally, this writing would come from real publications and not be fabricated by me in order to embody the form I’m looking for.(Although most experts on writing instruction employ some kind of mentor text study, the person I learned it from best was Katie Wood Ray in her book Study Driven).But over the next year or so, I plan to also share more of what I know about teaching students to write.Although I know many of the people who visit here are not strictly English language arts teachers, my hope is that these posts will provide tons of value to those who are, and to those who teach subjects, including writing.Later, as students work on their own pieces, I would likely return to these pieces to show students how to execute certain writing moves.Although many students might need more practice in writing an effective argument, many of them are excellent at arguing in person.Unlike the mentor texts we read on day 1, this sample would be something teacher-created (or an excellent student model from a previous year) to fit the parameters of the assignment.Before letting students loose to start working on their essays, I make sure they have a solid plan for writing.Since I want the writing to be high quality and the subject matter to be high interest, I might choose pieces like Jessica Lahey’s Students Who Lose Recess Are the Ones Who Need it Most and David Bulley’s School Suspensions Don’t Work.I would have students read these texts, compare them, and find places where the authors used evidence to back up their assertions.