By Gaetan Pappalardo
I circled the neighborhood looking for a place to park that wasn’t too, well…suspicious? I wasn’t breaking the law, even though I felt a little mischievous. Bangor, Maine in April is pretty desolate. I couldn’t hide in a crowd or park in a lot. The streets are wide. It’s quiet. I drove around the block a few times trying to gather the nerve to park, excitement growing with each pass. There’s no mistaking his house. He’s definitely not hiding from the public’s eye. The black gargoyles perched atop the wrought iron fence were a dead giveaway. Stephen King has lived here since 1980. He’s spent time in various locations in Maine throughout his life and also did a stint in Boulder, Colorado where he wrote The Shining, but Maine is his home.
When asked, “Why Bangor? Why did you pick this place to settle down and write?”
By Lynne R. Dorfman
I have always known that research begins with a burning question – one that needs to be answered to satisfy that “Curious George” persona in all of us. As my students have engaged in content area learning in the past, I now realize that I was perhaps too quick to send them off on a journey (not always a journey of student choice either). We all know how important the three Cs are to student learning – choice, challenge, and collaboration. But what if your students don’t have a burning question to ignite their quest? Read more
By Tricia Ebarvia
Last week I explained how I help students discover an inquiry question through independent research. Below, read on to lean more about our drafting process and the final products.
At the core of the inquiry paper is Kenneth Burke’s contention that writing is like “entering a conversation.” No doubt others have written about music and feminism, for example, but I encourage students to think of their final paper as their way of adding their voice to the ongoing conversation about their topic. Read more
By Tricia Ebarvia
I vividly remember the pile of 3 ½ x 5 index cards I used to collect information for the dreaded junior year research paper. I also remember my teacher, Mrs. Caum, telling us exactly how our paper needed to look, from the in-text citations to the footnotes.
While the type of academic writing I did that year was valuable—I did, after all, become an English major—I’m not sure how authentic that experience was, then and especially today. The fact is that nothing screams “school” more than a traditional research paper, double-spaced in 12-pt Times New Roman font with an MLA heading and works cited page. No doubt that students should know how to do that type of academic writing. But now that I find myself as the teacher who assigns that dreaded research paper, I’ve thought about ways to make the experience more meaningful for my students. Read more
By Molly Leahy
“We’re closed” I announced in rapid-fire snow chain speak. My student teacher’s disbelief and disappointment rang clearly over the phone. “Again? Ok,” she sighed, reminding me of someone I used to be.
I felt like saying, “Oh you have a lot to learn about snow days.” After teaching for twenty years, I love a good snow day to catch up on bills, sleep, and some cross-country skiing. There are closets to clean, tax papers to organize, and books to read. Sometimes a snowcation energizes me by restoring work-life balance. Other times, the snow day provides additional hours to respond to students’ writing. This feeling of accomplishment or just balance allows us to return to our very demanding profession with renewed vigor.
But what happens when snow days pile up, blocking the flow and rhythm of teacher and student energy alike? Read more
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