Don’t Let Spellcheck Ruin the Writing

    “Mrs. Yung, why is this wrong?” Emily asks me during class, staring at her laptop screen. A wavy green line floats below a phrase, again interrupting the first draft of her slice-of-life essay. “We’ll figure it out later. Stay in the zone,” I respond, hoping she can quickly return to her mind’s creativeContinue reading “Don’t Let Spellcheck Ruin the Writing”

#Engagement: Instagram is for Writing

    A few weeks ago, Audrey, one of my former middle school students who’ll be a senior next year, posted on Instagram a photo of an essay she had handwritten. The essay showed Audrey’s ideas about adolescence, the validity of teenage relationships, finding one’s soulmate. The essay expressed her thoughts, and exhibited the kindContinue reading “#Engagement: Instagram is for Writing”

Contest #2 That Works for My Students: DAR American History Essays

Originally published June 9, 2017 ©Edutopia | The George Lucas Educational Foundation Tired of making all the rules? Let a contest committee do it for you. Your students will show more buy-in when citing their evidence, for example, when the judge — and not you — requires it. Here’s another contest to help you teach importantContinue reading “Contest #2 That Works for My Students: DAR American History Essays”

In middle school research, pictures are winning

In the game of middle school student research, pictures are winning and words are losing. I have noticed increasingly that students, when they are researching a topic for a writing assignment, spend a lot of time not reading articles. Many spend their time looking at pictures. Or watching videos. I can’t tell you how many timesContinue reading “In middle school research, pictures are winning”

A Facebook Status Can Be a Starting Point for Hesitant Writers

    Originally published March 16, 2016 ©Edutopia | The George Lucas Educational Foundation One of my students wrote a 150-word personal essay. It was heartfelt. It was raw. It was also a Facebook status. So I’m a little confused. That’s because this student—let’s call her Lisa—often struggles to complete most of the writing I assign inContinue reading “A Facebook Status Can Be a Starting Point for Hesitant Writers”

Contest #1: VFW Patriot’s Pen

Originally published June 1, 2017 ©Edutopia | The George Lucas Educational Foundation My first post in this new blog focused on writing contests and how I use them in my middle school ELA classes to provide authentic writing experiences. As promised, my subsequent posts (starting with this one) will highlight a contest that I usedContinue reading “Contest #1: VFW Patriot’s Pen”

Writing Contests Deliver Student Buy-in

Originally published May 30, 2017 ©Edutopia | The George Lucas Educational Foundation Take advantage of the benefits that contests offer One day last February,  three of my seventh-grade students hustled into my classroom at the end of the day. “Isn’t today the deadline for the New York Times contest?” Jacob asked me. After I confirmedContinue reading “Writing Contests Deliver Student Buy-in”