But over the next year or so, I plan to also share more of what I know about teaching students to write.
Although I know many of the people who visit here are not strictly English language arts teachers, my hope is that these posts will provide tons of value to those who are, and to those who teach subjects, including writing.
I would ask students which author they feel did the best job of influencing the reader, and what suggestions they would make to improve the writing.
I would also ask them to notice things like stories, facts and statistics, and other things the authors use to develop their ideas.
To help them make this connection, I would have them do some informal debate on easy, high-interest topics.
An activity like This or That (one of the classroom icebreakers I talked about last year) would be perfect here: I read a statement like “Women have the same opportunities in life as men.” Students who agree with the statement move to one side of the room, and those who disagree move to the other side.I don’t claim to have the definitive answer on how to do this, but the method I share here worked pretty well for me, and it might do the same for you.If you are an experienced English language arts teacher, you probably already have a system for teaching this skill that you like.Every class of students I have ever had, from middle school to college, has loved loved LOVED this activity.It’s so simple, it gets them out of their seats, and for a unit on argument, it’s an easy way to get them thinking about how the art of argument is something they practice all the time.Then again, I’m always interested in how other people do the things I can already do; maybe you’re curious like that, too.Before I start, I should note that what I describe in this post is a fairly formulaic style of essay writing.Since I want the writing to be high quality and the subject matter to be high interest, I might choose pieces like Jessica Lahey’s Students Who Lose Recess Are the Ones Who Need it Most and David Bulley’s School Suspensions Don’t Work.I would have students read these texts, compare them, and find places where the authors used evidence to back up their assertions.Later, as students work on their own pieces, I would likely return to these pieces to show students how to execute certain writing moves.Although many students might need more practice in writing an effective argument, many of them are excellent at arguing in person.