The Spice of Life

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
by summer-lovin' Suzanne

Variety is the spice of life.  Think about your own life and how it rings true.  We crave different foods, look forward to visiting new lands, and choose new wardrobe combinations daily.  We seek variety because it keeps us interested.

The same is true in a classroom.  Students (and teachers) crave variety.  Within a framework, I choose to change my "big chunk" of my lesson each day.  Maybe we use affinity mapping one day, a foldable or revision activity the next.  It keeps it interesting, for my kiddos and myself.  It helps students stay engaged and off of auto-pilot.  

With our new testing system, I kept hearing "no formula writing" repeated over and over again.  (What a novel idea!)  There was no sentence that followed defining what exactly to stay away from.  I like that our new testing system values authentic writing.  (Kinda.)  As teacher writers, we don't always write for the same purposes or audiences.  We tailor of message to produce a desired outcome.  Our students should do the same thing.

Now hear me out.  This is risky and terrifying.  I feel it to, but in order to produce real-world writers, we must teach students a variety of structures.  We must also teach them how to know which one(s) best meet the demands of the prompt.  The following are four structures taken/adapted from Gretchen Bernabei.  All of them would be conducive to writing an expository essay.  There are many more than can and would work.  Consider having your students come up with new structures.  Your gifted kids would likely love that, and it could be a huge boost of confidence for a struggling student to create a structure to add to your menu.  

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