Category Archives: teaching writing

I’ve taught writing to K-12 students (unpaid) and college students (paid) and have both Opinions and Concrete Tools to share.

Is our writing curriculum broken?

Preschool. My son started to write, exuberantly, exultantly.

Kindergarten. More fun with words.

First grade. Chugging along.

Second grade. Dead stop.

What happened? What changed?

We need to know that because it’s not just my son. It’s a lot of kids. It’s a lot of adults. How many people do you know who say, “I can’t write,” or “I’m a bad writer”? How many people do you know who are ashamed to share their writing with other people? What happened to their confidence?

I have two theories. First, when writing began to be graded and evaluated, suddenly it became a Thing you could Fail At. And second, the way grammar and spelling is taught makes writing Ever More Perilous.

Anybody else have any theories?

The sad and frustrating thing about my son is that he’s an advanced learner with just amazing creativity and depth of analysis. You can hardly see any of that from his writing.

He’s been making a ton of improvement in third grade. But you know what I wish? I wish it wasn’t graded at all. Or rather, I wish it was graded on the number of words and nothing else. Or the amount of time he sat and worked steadily, rather than staring off into space with who-knows-what going through his head.

In short, ideally, I would love to have a complete overhaul of writing curriculum. And to throw out some of the Common Core standards as being actively harmful to kids.

Short of that, what should I do???

Persuasive Writing for Activists

This was a first attempt to introduce this topic, but I’ve done it better elsewhere. Check out https://kristinking.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/persuasive-writing-for-activists-intro/. I’ll be adding content about once a week. — 4/11/2013.

If you know me, you know that to say I have progressive politics is an understatement. If I see a progressive make an argument I agree with, half of me says, “Right ON!”

And the other half is saying, “Seriously? You expect that to persuade anybody? Preaching to the converted, folks.”

As much as I disagree with the conservative point of view, I have to give conservatives props for effective persuasive writing. And honestly, they get empathy points for at least knowing their audience.

There’s a reason for that. The corporate world teaches persuasive writing. And they teach it well.

How do I know? Back at the beginning of the millenium, I taught business writing at a university. That’s where I learned to do persuasive writing. I keep thinking I should create a document “Persuasive Writing for Activists” or make a Power Point and teach a course. That’s one on my list of several hundred things I wish I had time to do.

But until I get around to it, here’s a teaser: the grading matrix I used for the business writing course. (This was back in 2002, when some people still used memos.)

With an offer of free advice! Progressive activists: if you would like, I will grade your persuasive writing. Post a comment with your writing, or include a link to it. Then tell me who your intended audience is. I’ll tell you where it went wrong and where it went right.

(P.S. I would grade this blog post as follows: Content – 2; Organization – N/A; Tone and style – 2; Layout – 3; Mechanics – ?. We’re not always at our best, are we?)

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