Effectively teaching reading skills

Great recent blog post from Grant Wiggins who (again) argues against using formulaic “strategies” for teaching reading. He argues that the very word “strategy” is used in a sloppy way too often. We’d get better results from teaching the student to choose whatever techniques, strategies, tactics or skills would dissect the reading most effectively. Read more for the details here.

Creative Writing Prompts For Your Classroom

Hello everyone! 

I’m Allison Best, 7VWP’s intern for the semester! Dr. Franke asked me to post for this blog daily, so in my first post, I’m going to talk a little bit about what got me inspired and interested in writing and link to a site with some of my favorite writing exercises!

Here’s the website: http://www.warren-wilson.edu/~creativewriting/Prompts.php

What I love about this collection of writing prompts is it’s a combination of all of my favorite ones from throughout my educational career. The one thing that I always dreaded, especially in High School, was when we’d begin class with a free-write. Sometimes it was for a grade; sometimes it was just to warm us up before class started.  It was overwhelming to write about anything I wanted. I’d psych myself out — is this worth writing about? Is this even interesting? Should I talk about my morning? What’s the point? Unless I was feeling particularly inspired that morning, I would slack off and either write nothing or nothing that I cared about. 

My teachers would say that to have a free-write was to remove the stress, the pressure, to just get the feel for writing down. The thing that got me inspired as a young writer, however, wasn’t the freedom to write; it was the interesting, quirky, and sometimes restrictive writing exercises. Like writing a story with only monosyllabic words; writing about a given person, an item, and an activity (my favorite story was about a man waiting in line with a single pearl earring in his pocket).  Using details to describe people – “what’s the name of an old lady who volunteers at an animal shelter, who wins a million dollars on a scratch off?”; “what’s the desk look like of a person six months sober?”.

These things inspired me. And talking about the writing exercises pushed me to look at the world, my environment, my books, my life for all the little subtleties and nuances that make writing so profound and exciting and fresh. My teachers let me write about how chores suck, about my boyfriend of one month (and soon after, my new ex-boyfriend), about my rollercoaster relationship with my sister, about friends using drugs and having sex. They let me write what was pertinent to me, but they made me do it differently. They pushed and prodded and didn’t accept average.

Not even with my writing exercises.

 

I hope you enjoy the list!

 

Oh, and something else that’s cool? A link that shows you how to make your own quill pen! This is pretty awesome too!