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How Writing Novels Expands Students’ Expectations of Themselves

KQED News Mind/Shift – Ki Sung

“Writing can be a challenge for anyone staring at a blank screen, faced with creating something from scratch. Making the leap to writing a novel can seem like a daunting task, but for English teacher Laura Bradley, assigning her students to write a novel every year is now part of how she teaches English to middle school students. The Young Writers Program at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has helped make that possible.”(more)

Written Off

The U.S. News and World Report – Andrew J. Rotherham

“American students don’t write well. At least that’s the consensus view based on standardized tests, teacher perceptions and various studies. As someone who hires for jobs that require skilled writing, the evidence resonates with me. Even students from elite schools often struggle to write clearly and get from one end of an argument to the other on paper. And what one might add, secondly, is that they’re really seriously good at deploying adverbs and throat-clearing phrases like confetti.”(more)

Writing instruction in our schools is terrible. We need to fix it.

The Washington Post – Jay Mathews

“Several years ago, I stopped reading the reports I frequently receive on “the future of education research” from many fine universities. Most education research has little or no relationship to important developments in schools, and it never will. Thankfully, there are exceptions. The Education Trust, a nonprofit that advocates for students from low-income households, has been peeking recently at what is happening inside classrooms, an intrusion rarely done because it is expensive and tends to expose unattractive realities. The organization collected 1,876 school assignments from six middle schools in two large urban districts in two states. The idea was to see how well English, humanities, social studies and science were being taught in the new era of the Common Core State Standards. The results are distressing and show that the instruction students are getting — particularly in writing — is deeply inadequate.”(more)

Struggling to write? Take some tips from Charles Darwin

The Guardian – Rosalind White

“Darwin’s strategy was one of crafted self-possession. He prioritised domestic comfort, time with his family and rambles in the country, rather than intellectual endurance. As a method for writing, it fostered a deep emotional connection with his research – and this intimacy resonates in the lucid flow and appreciative tone of his arguments: “It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds,” he writes. “With birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us.” Darwin resisted an automatic, or breakneck approach. The pleasure he took in both his writing and his research is tied up with his ability to take a moment, breathe and witness the world in a wider dimension.”(more)

4 ways to keep your kid’s brains active during the summer – Staff Writer

“School is out for the summer. Kids have spent the last nine months cramming as much knowledge as they can into their developing brains. Yet they can lose a lot of those new skills during the lull of the summertime. “There are all sorts of studies that talk about kids losing skills over the summer if they don’t continue to practice what they learned from the previous year,” said Jody Triptow, education specialist at Primary Children’s Hospital. Reading fluency and comprehension and math literacy and skills are some areas that can weaken during this time. Here are four ways to keep your children intellectually active.”(more)

5 ways to gamify writing in the classroom

E-School News – Joan Selby

“Believe it or not, writing is a natural fit for gamification techniques. You’ve surely noticed how your class gets engaged as soon as you introduce a game into the teaching process. The students get competitive, but that’s a healthy competition you want to nurture. Have you ever thought about teaching writing through games? It’s a great strategy that helps students overcome the lack of motivation they have regarding writing assignments. Robert Monroe, a writer for EduGeeksClub and a father of a 10-year-old, explains how he made writing attractive for his son: ‘I realized he was bored whenever he had to write something for school. I know how fun writing can be, so I found a way to turn it into a game. I set up a private online diary and gave him brief prompts every day. He received points for each ‘level’ he passed and a prize for every big achievement. I noticed great improvements in his grammar and style in a really short period of time.'”(more)