My own inexperience in teaching students to write sans formula was reflected in the writing they produced. A band-aid may be an easier short-term solution, but it often only covers up the real problem.In the United States, we’ve done a good job at doing the wrong things better, Richardson pointed out.
My own inexperience in teaching students to write sans formula was reflected in the writing they produced. A band-aid may be an easier short-term solution, but it often only covers up the real problem.Tags: Solving Exponential Growth ProblemsThe Problem Solving ModelGantt Chart Business PlanProblem Solving MethodologiesA Nation Apart ThesisOutline For A Argumentative EssayClassification In Essays
I went to the University of Pennsylvania for my graduate program, and while I learned a lot about education as a whole, two methods classes aren’t enough to teach anyone about what it really means to be a writer or to teach writing to others.
As a young, new teacher, I welcomed the structure—yes, the rigidness—that the 5-paragraph essay offered. “Baby steps,” my teacher-friends tell me whenever they sense my frustrations. Even a small step is a step in the right direction. Change is hard.” Yet sometimes the only way to fix something broken is to just get rid of it.
After all, I had other things to worry about, like reading all the books I had to teach and managing a classroom of skeptical teenagers. It’s much easier to check if a student’s essay fulfills a template than it is to approach each student essay as its own unique piece of writing, with its own form, structure, purpose, and voice. When students don’t understand something, I try to remember that it’s not only their first time learning something new, but my first time, too. I’ve been thinking a lot about something I heard educator and author Will Richardson say at a conference last spring (and in this TED talk).
To approach writing instruction sans formula is messy. Last year, when I decided to try a different approach with my ninth graders, there were many days I went home feeling like the worst teacher in the world. As one of my mentors often tells me, “Be forgiving. Richardson argued for urgency in our approach to the challenges schools faced.
For Didion, a notebook was a place to remember how it felt to be her.
Our notebooks are the building block of our writerly lives, and I encourage students to use their notebooks beyond our classroom walls.No wonder when I started to teach 11th and 12th grade students that they struggled with writing and thinking beyond what the teacher required.They relied on the teacher to tell them what to do and how to do it.When I ask a follow-up, “What’s the difference between Didion’s essay and the ones you just described? During our discussion, I admit to students that I’ve been guilty of (over)teaching the 5-paragraph essay.” a student says, not-so-quietly, “It’s well-written.” His classmates laugh. I also tell them, however, that the longer I teach, the more I realize that some of my former teaching practices weren’t always best practices, though I didn’t realize it at the time (former students: my apologies). Some students seem surprised to hear a teacher admit such a thing, but it’s all about having growth mindset, right?This suggestion, however, has never felt right to me.It seems like a good compromise: we’ll keep the 5-paragraph essay and just add other types of writing.For example, we might make improvements to standardized tests, but we don’t question enough if standardized tests themselves aren’t the problem. For a long time, I used a band-aid approach to teach writing.Instead, we make incremental changes to things that don’t work. When students had trouble adhering to the 5-paragraph structure, I scaffolded my instruction to make it easier for them to follow.Much has already been written about the limitations of the 5-paragraph essay form.In particular, I’d suggest looking up what college educators Paul Thomas and John Warner have written on the topic.