Saturday, December 8, 2012

Something Is Better Than Nothing

Quick temperature check. One of my goals this year was to focus students on reading as writers: paying attention to the writers they read as models for their writing. 

I’m a little discouraged that I haven’t done as much of this as I had hoped to, but I am encouraged that even the little I am doing is helping some students. I have never before gotten unsolicited comments from students on the topic, and this week I got two.

In a book talk, or reading conference, one student commented, “I don’t usually read non-fiction, but when I was reading this, I noticed how the author stated his thesis and supported it, using a preview of points and topic sentences. It really helped me as a writer.” 

On an exit ticket, where I asked students to record one interesting thought from reading a chapter of a book on public speaking, a student wrote, “He uses quotes really well in the book. He gives background information before using the quotation.”

What have I done? Just occasionally, when reading a non-fiction article as background to or extension of a theme or literary selection, I ask questions like, What is the author's thesis? Or we look at the hook and the conclusion. Or groups select 3 good transitions. Really: maybe 5 minutes for each non-fiction reading.

You don’t have to be perfect--but doing something is always better than doing nothing. I haven’t been a perfect teacher, but I’m smiling at the end of this week.

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