Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Put Pizzazz into your Students’ Writing: Using Fiction Techniques to Write Grab-You-by-the-Collar Expository Essays

Lured by my title, twenty-seven elementary and middle school teachers joined me yesterday at NWRESA in Wilkesboro, NC. With the common goal of improving students' test scores (the specter which haunts many language arts teachers), we looked at how students can improve their essays by adding voice, using "show don't tell writing", and utilizing effective syntax. Along the way we detoured into "the land of critical thinking" as we analyzed low-scoring narrative and expository essays (from Jane Kiester's book, Blowing Away the State Writing Assessment Test) and re-wrote them in a student's voice. Collaboration ruled the day as teachers enjoyed the interaction with their peers, were further validated in their teaching skills, and learned a few more tricks of the writing trade to bring back to their classrooms.

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