Adapted from Teaching Nonfiction Revision: A Professional Writer Shares Strategies, Tips, and Lessons by Sneed B. Collard and Vicki Spandel
Have you ever watched a film that you enjoyed, but afterward had trouble describing— or, worse yet, never thought about again? Unfortunately, many Hollywood movies fall into this category.
They seem well-constructed and crackle with gee-whiz action, yet leave the audience empty and disappointed. Most often, the problem boils down to one issue: there’s no person or thing in the movie that we actually care about. Instead of being character driven, these movies are plot-driven. They are defined by events instead of characters that we actually identify with.
Imagine yourself walking into your favorite bookstore or library. Everywhere you look is shelf after shelf of well-organized, beckoning books. You arrive at your favorite section. You skim title after title of inspiring, interesting, want-it-now reads. Your worry is not which book to choose, but how to find time to read all of the ones that are now suddenly on your list.
What could be more inspiring for reading than being surrounded by great books?
"Whenever it comes to writing," says Smokey Daniels in this video, "most teachers feel like their primary responsibility is to grade it." But that shouldn't be the case, he argues alongside Nancy Steineke. The work of students should be honored and activities in the classroom should reflect that. Smokey provides tips to share different types of writing work, while Nancy says well, if you have to grade, here are some better and more productive ways of assessing work while still honoring it.
Reading competes with so many things for kids' attention these days, says Nancy Steineke in the video below. With coauthor Harvey "Smokey" Daniels, she talks through why their new Texts and Lessons for Content-Area Writing emphasizes short, high-interest pieces of writing to keep students engaged.
While we must commend the Common Core Standards for recognizing the importance of literacy in all content-areas, a literacy long overlooked, the Core’s narrow vision of writing concerns us. Yes, of course we want students to be able to write cogent arguments, expositions, and narratives, but where in the Standards is the route that leads to this sophisticated writing? Where is the practice? That’s the bridge we offer in Texts and Lessons for Content-Area Writing.