How to get better “One-Word Summaries” from your students

Make these off-limits: the topic and their opinion In the past, after I assigned One-Word Summaries, I would often feel a little let down when I walked around the room, glancing over students’ shoulders as they wrote their paragraphs defending their chosen word. Read my post on the One-Word Summary if you’re unfamiliar with thisContinue reading “How to get better “One-Word Summaries” from your students”

Exploding a Moment: How I Show Students This Revision Strategy in Action

Seeing is believing with my “before and after” handout First things first: THANK YOU, BARRY LANE! Barry Lane’s video where he retells the story of “Jane Wilson’s poured milk memory” is one of my all-time favorites to introduce my students to the idea of exploding a moment. Exploding a moment is one of Lane’s signatureContinue reading “Exploding a Moment: How I Show Students This Revision Strategy in Action”

How to get middle schoolers to write 16-page essays

Try “The 8th-Grade Human Rights Dissertation” Want to be impressed by your middle school ELA students? Want to see them rise to the writing occasion? Try this extended writing assignment that I call the 8th-Grade Human Rights Dissertation. Sidenote: Obviously, this is not an assignment for distance learning. It’s designed for a normal full-time scheduleContinue reading “How to get middle schoolers to write 16-page essays”

Try This Low-Stakes Writing Activity: “Take a line for a walk”

It’s a keeper. A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to the 2020 Write-to-Learn Conference sponsored by the Missouri State Council of the Int’. Literacy Association, The Missouri Writing Projects Network, and the Missouri Council of Teachers of English. Even though I attended only one day of the three-day conference, I’m happy with the handfulContinue reading “Try This Low-Stakes Writing Activity: “Take a line for a walk””

Teaching transitions in writing, part 2

This student-written essay illustrates transition ideas A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how the nonfiction author James Swanson’ transitions from paragraph and from chapter to chapter in his nonfiction narrative Chasing Lincoln’s Killer. The post discussed transitions words (such as therefore, however, in contrast, nonetheless, and others) that we all know andContinue reading “Teaching transitions in writing, part 2”

Teaching transitions in writing, part 1 (updated 6/2021)

Don’t teach just transition words… teach transition ideas as well. Note added on June 5, 2021: I often go back to my previous blog posts and see the details of how I taught a certain book or writing mini-lesson. In fact, I recently did that with this post. In April, I was working with myContinue reading “Teaching transitions in writing, part 1 (updated 6/2021)”