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How Has Your Own Work As A Writer Helped You As An English Teacher?
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1. Giving Meaningful Responses- Not Grades- to Student Writers
When I am writing, whether for personal reflection, friendly communication, or professional publication, the primary questions on my mind are, Does this text work Will my readers get it Does it have substance, style Significantly, I never think to myself, Is this good enough for an A, or is it more of a C effort or Is this writing 85% successful, or 92%.
Thinking as a writer about meaningful feedback, I have concluded as a teacher that assigning letter grades to individual pieces of writing is not useful. What my student writers, like any other writers, need to know is, "Does this piece of writing work Does it speak" I let these questions guide my evaluations. Students receive feedback through analytic rubrics and my comments, and they earn a simple evaluation of "Credit" or "Revise for Credit." If the writing works, it gets credit. If it doesn't, it goes back for more attention. The writer who earns credit Cartier Replica may still revise if he or she wishes to continue working with a piece; the writer who does not earn credit must revise to demonstrate proficiency in the skill or subject under consideration. Our conversations about revision can focus more on qualityâ€”What makes writing coherent, stylish, engagingâ€”and less on quantityâ€”How many run-ons need to be corrected or paragraphs tightened to make this an A paper As an added benefit, students seem more willing to revisit their work than under a traditional grading system.
My desire for meaningful responses to my writing has led me to offer more of them to my students. Students now are more likely to write with an audience in mind, to consider how effectively they are communicating their ideas, and to revise for clarity and styleâ€”that is, to do the real work of writing.
2. The Dark Side of Publishing: Reading and Writing Rejection Letters
Being rejected is never easy. I know that from personal experience. During my 30year teaching career, I submitted numerous manuscripts to professional journals. Sometimes they were accepted. Occasionally I got a conditional acceptance, requiring that I revise, and often I received rejections. I saved all of these letters and eventually found a valuable use for them in the classroom.
My eighth graders publish annual magazines based on topics that interest them. Students decide on titles and then write calls for manuscripts to circulate among middle school students. After receiving manuscripts, the editors write acceptance and rejection letters to the authors. By using my letters for models, editors recognize the importance of format, such as the need for a letterhead, date, personalized greeting (such as "Dear Julie" instead of "Dear Contributor"), and closing.
Most important, they get a sense of how to write their messages, especially to soften the blow of a rejection. Following what they read in my letters, many editors word their letters broadly, such as "We are sorry that your article Omega Replica Watches does not fit our needs at this time." Others notice that rejection letters often describe why the manuscript was not accepted, and they include specific information in theirs. For example, one student wrote the following:
Thank you for submitting your manuscript, "Global Warming/Climate Change" to Headlines. Unfortunately, I already have an article about the same topic. Yours is an extremely interesting manuscript with several facts that I did not know before. I suggest that you submit it to one of the other magazines. They might be interested in publishing it.
The editors are eager to deliver acceptance letters but are reluctant to hand out rejection letters. However, they do so, knowing that they expressed a difficult message in a tactful way. Rereading my rejection letters was not something I enjoyed, but it was rewarding to see how they benefited my students.
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