On a bright July morning in a windowless conference room in a Manhattan bookstore, several dozen elementary school teachers were learning how to create worksheets that would help children learn to write. Hochman, founder of an organization called the Writing Revolution, displayed examples of student work.
On a bright July morning in a windowless conference room in a Manhattan bookstore, several dozen elementary school teachers were learning how to create worksheets that would help children learn to write. Hochman, founder of an organization called the Writing Revolution, displayed examples of student work.A first grader had produced the following phrase: “Plants need water it need sun to” — that is, plants need water and sun, too.
If the student didn’t learn how to correct pronoun disagreement and missing conjunctions, by high school he could be writing phrases like this one: “Well Machines are good but they take people jobs like if they don’t know how to use it they get fired.” That was a real submission on the essay section of the ACT.“It all starts with a sentence,” Dr. Focusing on the fundamentals of grammar is one approach to teaching writing. Many educators are concerned less with sentence-level mechanics than with helping students draw inspiration from their own lives and from literature.
Thirty miles away at Nassau Community College, Meredith Wanzer, a high school teacher and instructor with the Long Island Writing Project, was running a weeklong workshop attended by six teenage girls.
By requiring students to learn three types of essay writing — argumentative, informational and narrative — the Core staked a claim for writing as central to the American curriculum.
It represented a sea change after the era of No Child Left Behind, the 2002 federal law that largely overlooked writing in favor of reading comprehension assessed by standardized multiple-choice tests.
The poem, which is funny and sad, addresses the futility of trying to repay one’s mother for her love: Most of the teachers’ responses pivoted quickly from praising the poem to memories of their own mothers, working several jobs to make ends meet, or selflessly caring for grandchildren.
It wasn’t sophisticated literary criticism, but that wasn’t the point.
The goal was to prepare them to write winning college admissions essays — that delicate genre calling for a student to highlight her strengths (without sounding boastful) and tell a vivid personal story (without coming off as self-involved). Wanzer led the students in a freewrite, a popular English class strategy of writing without stopping or judging.
First, she read aloud from “Bird by Bird,” Anne Lamott’s 1995 classic on how to write with voice.
More than half of first-year students at Harvard failed an entrance exam in writing — in 1874.
But the Common Core State Standards, now in use in more than two-thirds of the states, were supposed to change all this.