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Try Express-Lane Editing… It Works!

By Lynne R. Dorfman

We can’t just hunt for errors; we need to celebrate what we are doing right.

– Jeff Anderson 

     After reading both of Jeff Anderson’s books, Everyday Editing and Mechanically Inclined, I started to think deeply about the concept of showing students what is right instead of asking them to correct what is wrong. Jeff focuses on correctness, asking students to look at mentor sentences and passages in the books they are reading including textbooks and independent reads. His “Express-Lane” editing system is inviting for students and provides a meaning-based process to help students proofread their writing and shape their own writing.  As Jeff cautions us, checklists aren’t always meaningful – students simply check off the items on the list.

     So how do you get students to engage in editing to reinforce the habit of becoming the first and last editor of their own work in order to communicate clearly and effectively? Read more

Moving Grad Students Forward as Readers, Writers, and Thinkers: A Top Ten List

By Janice Ewing

My career path has led from secondary English teacher to elementary school reading specialist and literacy coach to my current position as a graduate-level instructor for teachers in a reading specialist certification program. Over the past few years, I’ve become increasingly interested in the needs of adult learners. Here is my top ten list of necessary elements that need to be in place for grad students to move forward. Top ten lists tend to be presented in reverse order, but I decided to start with my number one priority and go from there. Read more

Free Students from the Chains of the Bookroom

By Rich Mitchell

      I have a theory about novels. As a high school teacher, I assume that the dim, damp, locked bookroom across the hall from my classroom is similar to many if not most high school bookrooms around the country. Copies of To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Huckleberry Finn, and Heart of Darkness, line the shelves, some tattered, some new; some Everbound, some paperback. My theory is this: We teach books like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Huckleberry Finn, and Heart of Darkness because our schools own them. They’re great books, don’t get me wrong, but aren’t the true reasons we use them financial and practical? Do we not order ten new copies of The Great Gatsby annually because we already own so many other serviceable copies? Can we deny that we work with To Kill a Mockingbird because it’s easier and cheaper than finding a new book, written by a living author, with similar, yet more current themes, and no SparkNotes?  Read more

Writers’ Notebooks and Quizzes: Can They Coexist? Should They?

By Dr. Mary Buckelew

     The colleague who observed my Writing Research 200 course this past spring was “shocked” that students arrived early and were animatedly discussing the class texts and their own writing even before class started. She observed, “students seemed genuinely interested in each other’s perspectives on the assigned chapter from A Whole New Mind, and they were also sharing grammar tips with each other.”

     Before teaching this particular introductory college writing research course, I polled several colleagues regarding methods for encouraging reading and discussion. I was surprised when they told me they gave multiple choice and short answer quizzes in their writing classes.  Their rationale, if they didn’t quiz — students wouldn’t read the materials, and thus miss out on important information. Read more