I was a high school English teacher before becoming an elementary school reading specialist fifteen years ago, and my experience confirms what you say: high school students are often just assigned writing rather than taught it. I did a master's in writing instruction in the mid-nineties--Teaching the "F" Word: Getting Form without a Formula Using Procedural Facilitation--and relied heavily on the research by Flower and Hayes, Scardamalia and Bereiter, George Hillocks, and Steve Graham--all of whom emphasized the importance of actually teaching elements of writing and revising based on those elements. Steve Grahams 2010 Carnegie Report "Writing to Read" discusses how writing improves reading comprehension.

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Jan 9·edited Jan 9


You might want to look at the work of a PhD whom I supervised (Milou de Smet). She studied the use of the outline tool in MS Word and how it affected both learning and writing.

Paul Kirschner

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I was a smart kid (relatively) but never that strong at English essays. That was remedied when I got my 11th grade teacher, who had been a journalist and did a LOT of writing. He explained to us how to take a very structured approach. And also that the CONTENT was the key to literary analysis. In other words, trawl the text to find substantive points to support your arguments.

Like duh, but still...I thought it was all fruity arty flowery language that distinguished you...and sure some style is nice...but really content and organization are much more important than smooth style.

Like if we had some theme, that we needed 3-5 subthemes for it (which if you add an intro para and conclusion, becomes the 5 (to 7) para essay. [Which I'm a contrarian against contrarians...actually think the 5 para essay is a very powerful form to teach to children!] And that each para should have 2- 5 examples to support it. Specific examples from the test AND (this is key) that at least one of them must be a direct quote. NOTE, he was not advocating a quote for padding. But for PROOF. It's the strongest evidence!

I rolled into 12th grade honors English (AP actually) and out of 11th grade regular (non honors) English. Was a little worried about competing with all the English gurls. (Sorry...but you know what I mean.) Anyhow, I crushed it. I'm hammering these specific examples and these quote proofs. Just nailed it. Got an A. Got a 5. And the AP teacher was awesome...learned a lot, was like a college course...even a majors college course. But I owe it all to the 11th grade journalist (who had learned from pounding copy to a deadline!)

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