Low-Stakes Writing: 4 Reasons This Practice Makes Your Students Better Writers

It’s that time of the year when most ELA teachers are looking to get serious about writing instruction. Maybe this is point where you start thinking about assigning a capstone-like writing project. And in the coming months you plan to block out a significant portion of your calendar to get your students ready.

But your beginning to feel a creeping anxiety as the time approaches. You remember all the missteps the students have taken in recent years. And though you have improved your writing instruction over time, the progress your students have made really hasn’t been as quick or as transformative as you had hoped. Continue reading “Low-Stakes Writing: 4 Reasons This Practice Makes Your Students Better Writers”

Change Your Stance on Outside Reading: 4 Factors to Consider

When I started teaching, I did not assign outside reading. Eventually, I tried it, but remained skeptical. I discovered there was a contingent of teachers who were strongly opposed to the idea. “They just don’t want to read,” some would say. “And they cheat,” the same people would continue.

Do students choose to avoid reading? Yes. Do they succumb to the temptation to cheat? Yes. I’m not going to deny it. But the benefits of assigning outside reading far outweigh these concerns though. Here are a couple of stories.

Last year, a student told me, “I am so grateful for this assignment because you helped me find my inner bookworm!” We had great, brief conversations about reading over while she was in my class. Another student told me she made her brother drive to three libraries and finally a Barnes & Noble just to get her hands on a copy of the second book in a series. She found the first book because of the outside reading assignment and didn’t even care if she was to get credit toward the next outside reading for this book.  Continue reading “Change Your Stance on Outside Reading: 4 Factors to Consider”