Chapter 8 in Newkirk’s text, Teaching the Neglected “R”, was an interesting chapter in that it showed us as teachers that there are many alternatives to teaching an essay. The structures given as starters to essays were pretty genius and great ways to promote some ideas for students.
I especially liked the two minute brain storm of the memory for students. This is ideal for those students who “don’t know what to write about” and then struggle to find a topic. Additionally, I like that it isn’t solely based on the idea of writing an essay, but rather on the experience and how students feel about that experience. Getting students to reflect on what they know and how they know it is valuable and promotes metacognition. For example, the author writes: “Of all the millions of moments you’ve experienced in your life,… this one bubbled up to the top for reasons of your own. It’s valuable to you not just because of the memory itself, but also because it came to you loaded with life lessons” (76). <– That’s really powerful as a teacher and as a person to encourage students to understand why certain memories they remember more than others. Not only does this exercise promote good in depth writing, but also it makes students more aware of why those memories are so important to them. I say, a good idea all around!
Chapter 9 is deep as well. The Multi Genre Project is a great idea and Newkirk explains his reasoning behind it all throughout the chapter. He gives the reader samples of the directions he gives and the rationale behind his teaching philosophy. That’s deep!
Once again, this chapter speaks to me. I can relate to his words, “I shudder at how bereft my world of writing was for so long. I won’t let similar narrowness happen to those I teach” (89). The aforementioned statement is definitely something I understand and could say about myself. It wasn’t until my senior year or high school (and maybe a bit during my junior year) that I was introduced to the value of other kinds of writing. Even then, the value of that writing was taken away when all we did was practice for the AP exam by writing 40 minutes essays. It was needed during that time, because we needed to practice. I wonder why none of my previous teachers ever took the time to teach more forms of writing and to value alternative methods of writing. I think there’s a lot of value in the five paragraph essay, but there’s also much to be said for a well written e-mail that results in an interview or a thank you card.
Chapter 10, poetry…. ughhhhh! And, to make it worse, it starts with “I believe that the world is beautiful and that poetry, like bread, is for everyone” (103). <— That I’m not too sure, but I think I’m coming around; I don’t loathe poetry as much as I once did. This whole chapter can be summed up into, “Our challenge, of course, is to seduce students into poetry in ways that appeal to them and don’t alienate them” (105). The author talks about poetry how I suppose I would try and talk about poetry in order to find some kind of spark of interest with my students. She connects it to lyrics and discusses the connections between lyrics and poetry. Yes, probably effective, but as a student, I still wasn’t impressed. I see the place for poetry, but I’m still not thoroughly impressed by much of it. Sadly, I just haven’t gotten over the scaring my poem gave me when I received a D on it in Creative Writing….
Chapter 11, essentially, writing fiction. Wood gives us a few ways to approach story writing for students. I’m fond of most of it. I really like the “PLOT + STORY + DESIGN = STRUCTURE” one. It gives a good base, but not too much. It is cut and dry. Cut and dry doesn’t mean that it can’t be elaborated! I think story writing can be rather difficult, but this is when I feel prewriting is essential– something I don’t like to do very much, but know I benefit greatly.
Chapter 12, The writing workshop is discussed in this chapter. I like the idea of reading your own work out loud to someone else. I try and do this often; it’s a imperative tool in the revising process. Also, there is so much truth in the statement, “Writers need time– to think, wirte, confer, write, read, write, change our minds, and wirte some more. (Probably why our teachers/professors– and we one day– say write, leave it for a day, and then go back to it.) Also, the notes in between the teacher and the student are great for both. There is a relationship built between the two. The two are able to communicate and discuss important parts of the class.
All in all, the reading was long, but I enjoyed it because it had some voice in it (different peoples’ voices, too). These practicing teachers had some good advice to share!