Sometimes I think my students resist learning formal register because they feel they are betraying their roots. Here‘s a great discussion on using formal register versus using normal register. I like the easy terms and examples.
Great questions for any writing teacher as well!
by Ken Lindblom
You want to make sure your child is getting an excellent education in writing. But if you’re not an expert, how do you really know? Here are four simple questions to ask your children about the writing that they are doing in their classes to determine if they are receiving an education in writing that is based on research and that reflects best practices for authentic writing.
Question 1: How many different genres are you writing in school?
The more genres your child is writing, the better.
Academic writing definitely matters. You want your child to be learning to write academic essays, literary analyses, and writing that will work for exams. But academic writing is just one color in the vast writing rainbow!
You want your child to be comfortable writing in many genres, and you want this for at least two reasons:
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Each of us is a singular narrative….Biologically, we are not so different from each other; historically, as narratives–we are each of us unique.
I just read a book on using digital technology in a writing workshop.
Prior to reading this book, I had been dreaming of having each of my students set up a WordPress blog on which to post their writing assignments. Troy Hicks helped me think through some of the rationale and logistics of having students blog. For one thing, blogs give students a genuine audience. This would almost certainly motivate students to increase the effort they put into their work and would give them the satisfaction of knowing their work is going to be read outside the classroom. As Troy Hicks points out, “Writers write to be read” (82). For another thing, blogging is a real-world activity many students will continue to engage in after graduating from school.
At some point I would have to assess students’ blogs. Hicks suggests having students prepare for that assessment by compiling a digital portfolio showcasing some of their work and growth as a writer. The portfolio could easily be set up right on the WordPress blog. All students would need to do is add a page to the blog called “Portfolio” and create a linked table of contents to each page they want to include in the portfolio.
Blog page assignments could include book reviews (in place of old-fashioned book reports), photo essays, creative writing pieces, and even re-posts (forcing students to read other blogs). Students could also be asked to respond to each other’s posts. Hicks suggests having students request specific types of responses from peers:
Writers…are asked to tell readers whether they want their work to be “blessed,” “addressed,” or “pressed.” If you are new to the online community, or feel that your piece is very personal and do not want it to be critiqued heavily, you might ask for a responder to bless it by simply offering praise. Inviting readers to address the piece means that you have specific questions about it, such as about character development or the flow, and want feedback on that. Finally, if you want a reader to press in his response, you are willing to accept any critiques that could help you move toward a stronger version of your writing. (83)
My main concern with this whole idea is students’ privacy, but in many ways helping my students to learn how to navigate the cyber world safely may be one of the most practical lessons I can teach them in English class.
For years and years I’ve harbored a sort of vague dream of publishing a book someday. Lots of people share that dream. Few bring it to reality.
Last summer I enrolled in a writing seminar at Millersville University. One requirement for getting an A in the course was that we submit a piece of writing for publication. I agonized over that requirement. I hadn’t realized just how high the stakes feel when you know you’re writing for a real audience. After much agonizing and editing, I submitted an article to Daughters of Promise magazine. (It was accepted!)
The experience taught me something I don’t want to lose sight of as an English teacher. Writing for publication is different than writing for your teacher or your classmates. It’s different than writing in your journal for yourself. Writing for publication raises the stakes. It causes you to write your very best and to seek counsel from others on how to bring the piece to its full potential. More than any other writing you’ll ever do, writing for publication forces you to grow as a writer.
Which means, my dear students, that you’ll be writing for publication come fall…..