Crossing Over: Teaching Meaning-Centered Secondary English Language Arts

By Harold M. Foster | Go to book overview

chapter EIGHT
Teaching Writing

Introduction

Getting Started

I see writers everywhere I turn. When I was a high school teacher, my students would not only hand me poems they had written, but also more than one turned in a full-length novel. I am always encountering adults from all walks of life who have squirreled away, in their attics or basements, novels they have written. When my daughter was in first grade, even she was a writer. She would spend entire Sunday afternoons at the typewriter, using one finger at a time, laboriously composing stories that were only middles filled with invented spellings.


A Writing Classroom

Bob Sanderfelt (Chapter Four, “Discussing Books”) has students who are writers. They are usually writing something, or reading another student's paper, or talking to a classroom neighbor about a piece of writing. These kids do not hesitate to read a piece of their writing out loud, and many of them have entered writing contests. They speak the language of writers, understanding the place of voice and style and the need for clarity and structure. They know how to overcome writing blocks and understand the purpose of free writing. These are students who write all the time and in all kinds of modes. They write in journals at the drop of a hat. They write about readings, class discussions, and events. They are given topic choices and write on those, or they find their own topics. Much of the work is bulk writing, skimmed by the teacher and graded only for quantity. Some early writings is read and responded to in an informal way. Some writings go through several drafts before they become public, either read by the teacher and students in class or by an extended public reached through writing contests, the school newspaper, and letters.

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