Index cards. Hundreds of index cards. Stacks of sources. And hours of research and card making. Lots of confusion. And less understanding of how to synthesize the gathered information. Those are words and phrases that describe my high school composition class days. I finished my paper. I got an A–and then when I set out to write my books thirty years later, I knew I had to develop a better way. There had to be a method by which kids could research from multiple sources, organize that information, outline, and write—with less stress, headache, and bad memories (and hopefully WITH skills that they could carry on to college).
Teaching writing is not for the faint of heart! It is the most subjective “subject” in school—and, consequently, can be one of the most challenging to teach. Oftentimes, materials designed to teach writing are more writing idea than writing instruction. They leave the student (and the teacher!) wondering exactly what to do to complete the writing prompt. This is one reason that after I write a book (one hundred in all!), test, test, and retest the book with real (or virtual starting this fall!) students to be sure that all of the steps are included and clear. Last week I shared a lesson from one of my books that I did with a mixed live/virtual class about writing from a given source. This week I’d love to give you another peek into my online writing classes for the fall with another cooperative “guinea pig” group!
I had my first test run of an online video class with some amazing guinea pig students from Israel! We are offering a couple of select classes this fall as online live video classes—CQLA Level B, CQLA Level A, Research Reports. So when someone said they’d like to join me for a few weeks this summer online, I asked them to be my guinea pigs—and my first online class was born! This particular lesson was one from halfway through our new-this-fall (but tested eight semesters over the past few years!) Meaningful Composition: Jump Start (a remediation book). It is a lesson about writing from a given source.
I love teaching every type of writing to every age of student! There isn’t a writing lesson that I have written in fifty thousand pages and one hundred books that I don’t look forward to teaching! (There are some grammar ones—direct and indirect objects! And some spelling ones—creating plurals! But not writing!)
My books are so directed and step-by-step that they are truly incredibly fun to teach from.
When you first saw the title of this, maybe you were a little freaked out about the idea of teaching story writing. I know that I used to be before Joshua (my son) taught me how to teach it incrementally, step-by-step with mapping and lists that help students lay out their characters, plot, obstacles, solutions, and more. He is a master teacher and has helped me learn how to teach things that I formerly did not feel comfortable teaching.
When we watch diligence webinars or attend diligence workshops, we have a tendency to think in terms of how we can teach our kids to be more diligent.
I have written and spoke about this extensively….check out…..
I love teaching Opening and Closing Paragraphs! By this time, my students have their amazing essays or reports written—and they are ready to show them off by writing poignant openings that draw readers in and closings that leave the reader satisfied.
Many of my students are very serious and conscientious about their Opening and Closing Paragraphs (as seen in the video below!), and they make me super proud of their efforts!
There are many ways to open and/or close an essay or report. Here are some general tips about opening paragraphs and closing paragraphs that writers of longer essays and reports (four paragraphs or more) should consider: