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ition of In
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t well see
c::0"It's the head-to-page trip that
is so frightening and difficult
for writers. Acting as coaches
of writing, teachers can assist
students by helping them
understand the strategies they
are using and suggesting
others they might use, by
raising questions and more
questions as the text emerges,
and by encouraging and
supporting student decision-
making throughout the growth
of the piece.
Dan Kirby, Tom Liner, and

u may wonder why we need another chapter on writing
when we have presented basic writing approaches in
Chapter II, ideas about teaching grammar in context in
Chapter 3, and writing assignments scattered throughout
the book. As with our multiple chapters on teaching lit-
erature, numerous approaches, genres, and activities are
available to put your philosophy of writing instruction
into everyday operation. To do justice to this complex
and challenging task, we continue to discuss enabling
structures that we have found helpful, that are not in
common use in many middle and high schools, and that
would have swelled other chapters past comfort. The
recommended writing texts in Appendix H contain the
structures of others.
We introduce you here to further theories about
teaching writing (collaborative writing, right writing,
writing to learn, elemental variation, and apprentice
writing), to genres of writing (environmental journal-
ism, journal writing, research writing, writing about lit-
erature, dependent authoring), and finally to tools that
enable students to undertake any writing assignment
(code switching, sentence combining, vocabulary
growth, and style developing). These fourteen chapter
sections may appear as randomly organized as groceries
thrown into a shopping cart-good and needful items
but assembled in no apparent order. Teaching writing
316 _CHAPTER 12
coheres for us around the first principles discussed in
Chapter 11; but there are other approaches, genres, and
tools with which to build effective writing instruction.
We hope these ideas will become part of your planning
repertoire and be ready for particular moments, partic-
ular students, and particular needs. They all conspire to-
ward what Britton et at. (1975) reminds us is our
purpose in preparing students to write: "work in school
ought to equip a writer to choose his own target audi-
ence and, eventually, to be able, when the occasion
arises, to write as someone with something to say to the
world in general" (p. 192).
We present these fourteen sections as a means of ful-
filling four critical needs in student writing that will
shape any writing program you may construct: sub-
stance, skills, structure, and style.
Substance, or content, is the fundamental need. To get
writing started, we must help students fmd the subject of
their thoughts and bring that thinking to consciousness
on paper. Fluency is what is wanted. We hope to find
ways to let students express themselves. We need to
know how to offer an invitation to writing that is
provocative and genuine. Further, we neld to construct
enabling structures that nudge student beyond their
starting points. We need to call on students to express
themselves and then to explore their experiences and
ideas through writing. Substance is richest and flows
most easily when students write about what they know
best and when it follows thinking and talking.
Skills are naturally acquired through repeated practice,
but they are also consciously mastered. They come
about because students are absorbing them all along and
because teachers are helping students gain conscious-
ness of them. Vocabulary, spelling, and punctuation are
some of the basic skills that students must master to
write well; and students value these skills most when
they care about what they are writing. These skills be-
come more complex as writing itself becomes more
complicated. Usage, which most people call grammar,
describes how words relate to one another. Its basic
components are the relationships between major fea-
tures such as the subject and predicate of a sentence: she
runs; they run. Similar but less crucial relationships are
those between pronouns and their referents: He is the
man whom you seek; Mary said that it was her book.
Relationships in form are least noticeable: splitting ii
finitives and using prepositions at ends of sentences al
only mildly unacceptable for some. Style can sometimll
override relationship, and social concern can
form as with the questions of gendered pronouns we di
cussed in Chapter 3.
Structure is the architecture of composing. It is ttl
macro form rather than the microlevel of design and 11
lationship. We know that form and organization shoul
arise from the content at hand, but we also try to
vide some organizing structures to help students mol
and shape their content. We fail them when we insii
on only one way to organize writing: Metaphors an
graphic patterns can inform organization as well aSi
five-paragraph or comparison-contrast structure Cal
Coherence has to do with making the sentences an
paragraphs fit together. Connectors and other functic:
words (and, but, therefore) provide complex ways 1
direct, redirect, and calibrate the directions of a writen
Style is the most subtle element. It is founded on all of ttl
other four elements, but it goes far beyond them. It
be created by the vocabulary of the writer; through ttl
variety and aptness of its use; by the inventive use of in
ages and actions that represent something beyond then
selves; and by metaphors, symbols, and extended figufl'i
of speech. Style's most sophisticated language dime
sions are related to syntax: the arrangement of word
The maturity of syntax and the ability to juxtapose stal
simple utterances and lengthy complex ones are centn
here. Voice is even more difficult to cultivate and nou
ish. Murray (1985) explains its crucial importance in WI":
ing:"Voice allows the reader to hear an individual hum;:
being speak from the page.... Voice is the quality, mOl
than any other, that allows us to recognize exceptiolll
potential in a beginning writer; voice is the quality, mOl
than any other, that allows us to recognize excellent WlT
ing. . . . Voice gives the text individuality, energy, COl
cern" (p. 21).
Each of the writing strategies we recommend has tU
power to meet some or all of these four critical need
Figure 12-1 indicates the fourteen strategies that we sUi
gest and a measure of their effectiveness in meeting eall
of the four critical needs. Before we turn to these fou
teen sections, we present examples of the kind of middJ
ground we attempt to traverse through all of these 31
proaches, genres, and tools.
itting in-
:nces are
lSwe dis-
It is the
:nand re-
ill should
y to pro-
uts mold
liors and
well as a
nces and
f ways to
Ii writer's
l all of the
It can
rough the

pnd them-
of words.
pose stark
lre central
land nour-
Ice in writ-

lergy; con-
nd has the
lcal needs.
latwe sug-
eting each
these four-
I of middle
f these ap-
FIGURE 12-1 Profound Effect 0 Moderate Effect 0 Slight Effect
Basic needs matrix
Fearn and Farnan's (1990) Writing Effectively addresses
the fundamentals of writing. They acknowledge that a
balanced writing program is composed of multiple di-
mensions, but they limit their attention to the basic con-
ventions of writing. They place all instruction inside the
context of whole pieces of writing; but for them, "the unit
is always a sentence" (p. 6). This simple context gives
them great control of what they want students to master.
They believe that for teachers to be effective they must
develop a systematic approach to the host of major writ-
ing problems suffered by a majority of students; they fear
that incidental or spontaneous teaching directed to the
problems that happen to appear in students' writing will
not solve the problem. They opt for a kind of direct in-
struction that they believe will achieve maximum effec-
tiveness in minimal time.
In the same fashion Kystron (2001) has developed an
electronic handbook that covers parts of speech, sentence
structure, Standard English grammar, and much more. Be-
cause it grows out of his writing project experiences, it
has a constructivist orientation. One of its unusual fea-
tures is that users are taught language conventions in a
fairly ordinary fashion, but they are then asked to teach the
ideas and skills they have acquired to an imaginary stu-
dent. It is this teaching that places the approach on a mid-
Substance Skills Structure Style
Collaborative writing

0 0 0

0 0 0
Right writing
Journal writing
Write to learn
Code switching
Sentence combining
Vocabulary growth





New research
Elemental variation
Lit. write
Dependent authors
Apprentice writing
Practical stylist




die ground between direct and process-based instruction
and so qualifies it as mediated instruction.
Middle Ground
Hillocks's (1986) Research on Written Composition has
been a landmark in the field, but he has recently updated
his research, broadened his pedagogy, and raised further
questions about process writing. He seems to have posi-
tioned his work (as we do) between two extremes: the
traditional presentational teacher who explains every-
thing in a lecture or relies on workbook drills and the
strict constructivists who rely on the hope that students
will discover everything for themselves. He believes that
traditionalists will fail because "the abstract rilles and for-
mulas of such teaching exclude the self" (p. 23), yet he is
not willing to abandon some form of direct instruction.
He uses a simple rite-of-passage incident as an analogy to
the failures of these extremes and his own success:
Consider learning how to use the clutch on a standard trans-
mission. My dad's explanation, by itself, would have done little
good. His explanation, combined with my trying (and stalling
the car fairly frequently) and his coaching, finally did the trick
by the end of our second session. On the other hand, had he
chosen simply to demonstrate, I would have been in trouble.
It would have taken a long time to perceive exactly what the
relationships ofthe pedals had to be. (p. 122)
318 _ CHAPTER 12
Explanation and demonstration are insufficient; only learn-
ing by doing together with careful coaching will get the
job done. Hillocks says that his scrupulous planning and
exacting arrangements for student interaction brings about
the desired results, moving students through Vygotsky's
zone of proximal development. He calls his pedagogy"en-
vironmental instruction" because its successes are due to
the structures he crafts. He believes that his theory for
teaching composition will "draw upon knowledge from a
variety of sources" (p. 41) and thus overcome the paradigm
."pu"be'.Ween "ne po",'t"'t"'t"',,,,, "ne c.Qru;"nlU't"'t,,,\S.
Hillocks's lesson
Hillocks offers a sample lesson that illustrates the com-
.interact.ions teacher and students i!writ-
mg mstructlOn. Htllocks and his graduate stullents
meticulously planned how groups would be composed
and the directions for their activity. He lists four impor-
tant principles of sequencing in his plan that are essential
for an activity to work effectively (pp. 180-82):
Fun: Begin with enjoyable work at the early stages as
a way to establish interest.
Building: Use earlier simple knowledge to create
more complex understanding later.
Integration: Pull together standard activities to en-
gage and complete gateway activities.
Independence: Learn to use appropriate and fruitful
strategies at the students'discretion.
Hillocks and his team used the following sequence of ac-
tivities, which embody his four principles, to help their
students develop a personal narrative:
1. Initial writing sample. Students write about an ex-
perience important to them.
2. Examplesofpersonalnarrative. Students talk about
similar works by professionals and other students.
3. Idea sheets. Students write a few sentences about
their own experiences.
4. Introduction to using specific detail. Students de-
scribe shells in teacher-led session.
5. Details about people and places. Teacher-led talk
about an interesting drawing or photograph of a person
in action or in a mood.
6. Describingsounds. Teacher-led talk about recording
of various sounds.
7. Writing about bodily sensations. Students write
briefly about what they feel.
8. Writing about the "dumpster scenario." Students
write what they see, hear, and feel as an ominous man
9. Pantomime ofcharacters in emotionalstates. Stu-
dents write details for an audience who did not see the
10. Invention ofdialogue. Students talk about two or
three examples of dialogue from professional and stu-
dent pieces.
11. Individualworkondialoguefromideasheet scenario.
Students read aloud to groups for feedback and revision.
12. Punctuationofdialogue. Teacher demonstrates sim-
plest dialogue form on overhead.
13. Workshop. Students select an incident to develop
from their idea sheets, to work on drafting, and to revise.
14. Classpublication. Students choose which pieces to
15. Final writingsample. Students compare first and fi-
nal writing. (pp. 178-179)
Much more can be learned from Hillocks's complex and
provocative strategy. It breaks new ground and avoids the
difficulty of insufficient options from those on either side
of his centrist position.
Another Middle Way
Collins and Collins (1996) take the same centrist position,
describing their approach as "strategic instruction for
struggling writers." They offer four clear steps for such
writers that help them gain strength and independence:
identifying a strategy
introducing and modeling it
helping students use it
repeating practice to achieve independence
Collins and Collins explain their position clearly: "The
strategic writing approach asks teachers to add instruc-
tion in procedural knowledge to their work with writ-
ers, especially procedural knowledge in the form of
self-regulatory strategies, ways of thinking about Writing
which help students control the writing process by set-
ting goals and monitoring progress toward achieving
them" (p. 55). They use goal setting, double-entry note
taking, read-think-summarize-interpret revising strate-
gies, and heavy-line marking of students' writing for analy-
sis (p. 56). They help students understand the sense of
sentences by carefully looking at ways of connecting ref-
erents and strengthening coherence. Other educators are
turning to this kind of intensive work with students in or
der to develop a rigor and power in their writing that is
sometimes missed in other approaches.
We turn first to an approach to writing instruction that
is basic to the theories of Chapter 11.
When students aren't able to start writing, one of the
most successful ways to bypass that block is to turn to
collaboration. Very little research has been done on
writer's block, but Rose (1984) finds that the best expla-
nation is a psychological resistance to putting anything
on the table that might be embarrassing. Rose cites Min-


:ces to
and fl-
ids the
er side
on for
,r such
prm of


, strate-
nse of
. gref-
ts inor-
that is
of the
turn to
one on
t expla-
tes Min-
ninger, Goodman, and others as researchers who believe
that the child in the writer has a block because of a fear
of meeting disapproval (pp. 13-15). When students work
together, their talk can be used to produce a confidence
and a fluency in their writing that they do not possess
when working alone. In the early grades, three students
taking turns at a computer keyboard can turn halting ut-
terances into extended narratives. Uncertain individual
thoughts gather assurance as they are aired and refined in
a small group of peers. When a trio of secondary students
compose a bizarre story using a list of items from three
columns labeled character, conflict, and conclusion, the
same collaborative power is unleashed. The social fun de-
rived from such interaction makes the language flow.
Dale's (1994) research shows that collaborative writing
groups become better than other student groups at tak-
ing conversational turns because they learn together, are
better focused on the task at hand, and are better able to
handle productive disagreement. Senge's (2000) com-
pelling work on the fifth discipline shows that students
in school as well as adults in the business world can learn
to work in groups in this same productive fashion. He de-
scribes the process of dialogue and discussion and ex-
plains how these skills can be learned in ways that
maximize productive group effect.
What Vygotsky tells us about the social construction of
language helps us see how language is unlocked in a so-
cial situation. We have also observed that the most re-
peated research finding about effective writing strategies
is that talk promotes writing best. Dale (1997) thinks of
the collaborative process as co-authoring and lists a set of
activities that work well when students write in groups
(Figure 12-2). Each of these ideas calls on group members
to think for themselves, talk about their differences of
opinion, analyze the problem or phenomenon together,
compose a forceful position statement that has a real
a'd well-defmed audience. Dale says that the advantage of
the topics and procedures is their strong appeal to stu-
dents. They deal with contemporary issues that fully en-
gage adolescents' political and social interests.
Because most secondary students are moving toward
formal operational thinking, they are intellectually and
psychologically ready to measure the realities of the world
around them against the ideals that they are formulating
in their minds. The world of ought rather than is is the
ground they occupy. That is why parents and adults who
are seemingly inured to the unsettling facts of daily life are
often alien to them. Adolescent literature works so well
with them in part because it focuses on the tension be-
tween being a dependent child and an independent adult.
Writealettertoaschoolofficialwhich definesaproblemthatyou thinkexistsin thisschool.
Askmembersofanothergroupto editthedraft.
Writeaquestionnaireandsurveyclassmatesaboutan issuethatyou knowyourclassmatesaretalking
Drawfromthe experiencesofall membersofthegroup.
Protestthe labelingofyourgenerationasGeneration X.
Thinkofatrendin society.
Explorethe underlyingcauses.
Satirizeaphenomenon in society.
Describethead'sscriptandvisual message.
Analyzetheadforitsunderlyingsocial message.
Asagroup, analyzeamovieyou viewtogether.
Seearecently released film.
Discussthe movie.
Composeamovie review.
Useapoliticalcartoonas avisual prompt.
Objectivelydescribethecartoon in oneormoreparagraphs.
Writeadescriptionofthecartoonusingslanted language.
Source: Adapted from H.Dale (1997) Co-authoring in the classroom (pp.63---B5). Urbana, IL: NCTE.
320 _ CHAPTER 12
makes students ripe for teaching,especially the kind of
Cognitive Conflict
is compelling(pp.8-9): \
1. "Cognitiveconflictoccurswiththerecognitionthat
one's ideas are different from another person's or
areincompatiblewithnewinformation"(Daiute &
2. "Students in groups restructure their thoughts by
comparingnewinformationwithinformation pre-
cepts or attitudes if that seems necessary"(Webb,
3. "Somecognitiveconflictisaninevitablepartofthe
process ofcollaborative writing because students
4. "Anumberofstudiesftndthatcognitiveconflictisa
(Burnett,1994;Daiute& Dalton,1988;Dale,1994).
5. Astrongcorrelationoccurs"betweenthequalityof
written work and the amount of substantive en-
6. Cognitiveconflictis"oneofthemostimportantfac-
tors inseparatinga modelgroupofwritersfrom a
All oftheresearchthatDale(1997)citesaboutverbaliz-
ing in groups and writing together also speaks clearly
aboutitseffectiveness.Fourfmdings aboutverbalization
1. VerbaliZingis"thebiggestfactorbehindthesuccess
ofcollaborativelearninginall itsforms"(Brown&
Palincsar, 1989; Gagne & Smith, 1962;Johnson &
2. VerbaliZing about what they're learning helps stu-
student does, the more beneftts that student re-
3. "Requiringverbalizationforcesstudentstothinkof
reasons for the choices they make as they think
throughaproblemorissue"(Gagne& Smith,1962).
4. "The social context allows students to think out
loud, which, inturn, providesanopportunity tothink
not only about the ideas involved, but also about
writingitself" (Daiute& Dalton,1993;Dale,1994).
Benefits of Collaboration
Dale (1997) concludes that the general beneftts ofcol-
It helps students see each other as resources,not
AllofthebenefttsthatDalelistsaresigniftcant, butone
thathas additional punchis thatworkingin teamsis so
preparation for working together rather than alone.
Goodman (1980) introduced collaborative writing to
sissippi at the Excellence in Teaching English Institute.
spondedtoa requestfor proposalforabiplanebycom-
pleting an extended written proposal. His exercise
demanded thesame kind ofgroup discussion anddeci-
sion making ofteachers before writing their proposals.
thatDale callsforinhertext. Thecompletedteampro-
discussion that led to thewriting. They were matched
against a real-world activity almost one hundred years
as theyworkedonthedunesatKittyHawktomanufac.
Gillis (1994) developed a collaborative writing plan
thatemergedas"youngwriters [were] pairedwithwrit
ftrst aboutlife attheirschoolbutbegan"toexperiment
with a range ofwriting"(p. 64). The group discussion'
and decision making that take place before writingin
Dale's projectis absent here. But the knowledgethata
real partnerwho shares your interests is reading what
eratedbygroupwriting. We haveenteredintoasimilar
and Dilworth and Wilde (1979) and Pope (1998) also
effective wayto initiatewriting and to provide forward '
Computersanddistancelearninghave beencredited
etryface tofacebutelectronically,theybecamemorein-
volved intheconversation,were more comfortableand
)f col-
:s, not
5 is so
ing to
to Mis-
hat re-
l deci-
III pro-

that a
me of
's gen-
) also
tance had a profound impact on students in that the
teacher's role changed abruptly. The classroom became
decentered; student groups were given a little more space
in which to rely on each other and themselves. Changing
the context of writing had a powerful effect on the stu-
dents' attitudes and their ownership of the work. Langer
(1997) used collaborative peer groups in working with
her New York students from the Dominican Republic.
They had limited English proficiency; but by working in
revising and composing groups, they gained a confidence
that increased their proficiency remarkably as they pro-
gressed through the school year.
Graves (1996) reminds us of the power of collabora-
tive writing but cautions us that able lifetime writers all
share a common need-the desire for solitude, a place to
write alone. We need to help students with fluency at
times by using collaborative writing but must remember
the place of individual invention and solitary revision in
the writing process.
This approach to writing has deep roots in the life of the
community that surrounds the English classroom. Mining
the local environment for lively information is an approach
conceived and given notoriety by Eliot Wigginton (1985)
through his Foxfire books. In the midst of his attempts to
solve common classroom problems, he hit on the idea of
setting his smdents loose to explore their native ground,
the North Georgia community of Rabun Gap. What Wig-
ginton found was that he had shifted the responsibility for
writing from the teacher to the students and so had
changed his classroom from a place where he presided to
one where all worked together as in a workshop. English
teachers from urban centers to small coastal towns, from
elementary schools to colleges, from classrooms of gifted
students to those of slow learners have tried his strategy
and found similar success. Three features of the Foxfire
writing model are constant: smdent control and responsi-
bility for the project, student interaction with the commu-
nity, and student publication of their journalistic research.
The community prOVides both resources and reasons for
writing. Outstanding examples of environmental journal-
ism have been created even in settings that seemed to pos-
sess minimal allure and support. Brunwin (1985), for
example, brought his own brand of this approach from
England to a sixth-grade class, which collectively wrote a
historical novel about nineteenth-cenmry gold mining in
their small town of Concord, North Carolina.
Foxfire's Lessons
Students learn at least five important lessons from this
writing model. They represent sequential stages of dis-
covery for those engaged in such projects, a chain reac-
tion that drives the process toward strong writing:
awareness of writing's public nature
understanding of requisite detail
sense of community
investment of self in writing
, desire to develop a rich, well-finished product
Public Nature. The public nature of environmental, or
cultural, journalism awakens students to the realization
that writing can be located in a concrete world of real
people and consequential events. Students base their
writing on material from their known worlds and return
that writing to the world by publishing it for the public.
That public audience may be the class, the school, the
school administration, or the community at large. Stu-
dents begin to feel that the written word is more than
an insular academic exercise, read and evaluated by one
reader only. Writing concerns itself with a concrete real-
ity in the world beyond the classroom and elicits the
attention of the same people who read the local paper
or a national magazine.
Requisite Detail. Writing based on oral histories
drives the writer toward specific and detailed content.
The available material is as rich as the students' genuine
interest and curiosity. With sensitive and probing ques-
tions, anecdotes of community history and folklore
open onto a more personal and nuanced history. Stu-
dent journalists may even begin to realize others' in-
trinsic interest in the material and their responsibility
to the person interviewed. The challenge then be-
comes to distill the personal account into a cogent and
effective form.
Sense of Community. Because of their natural ties
with their subjects in the community, students often feel
more invested in their own communal history. As they
publish their fmdings to that community, a cycle devel-
ops. Students discover an interest in people and events
that they once did not know or notice, and they fmd a
way to express that interest. The broader community,
through the interviews and their publication, intensifies
its interest in the work of the school. This interest
prompts students to take themselves and their work
more seriously.
Self-Investment. When students know their past, care
about the people who are the repositories of that past,
and tender it in the present, they write with a greater cer-
tainty of purpose. As they engage in the actualities of real
lives and invest themselves in the project, writers de-
velop a personal stake. The product of environmental
journalism grows from individual and collective sources,
but it has a good chance of being personally owned by
each contributor to it.
322 _ CHAPTER 12
finished Product. When the first four steps are thor-
oughlyundertaken,thefinal stepnaturallyfollows. Ifthe
review, revision, and proofreading are self-motivated.
the community will return to the full community,they
wanttogetitright. As forstudentsina playorconcert,
rehearsalgoesonoutsideclasstime. Environmentaljout
perform. Theirperformance is important and provides
Alistof othertopicsthatexploreacommunity'srichlore
Most studentsknowlittle ornothingaboutthesetop-
ics,and the communityat large knows verylittle more.
Students' families and older acquaintances can be rich
whichtheyhad"nomemoryandlittleknowledge" (p.66).
We knowteacherswhohave usedtheschoolculture as
the historicalsource,interviewingadministrators,cooks,
Examples and guidelines for interviewing can be
3. Engage. Demonstrate your personal interest in
4. Narrow. Move from the beginning point that is
personalandgeneralto an examinationofparticu-
5. Record. Remember details and special phrases
anduse taperecorderswhentheydo notinterfere
6. Transcribe. Turn the recording or the remem-
able narrative or a smooth question-and-answer
7. Transform. Changethenarrativeorquestion-and-
ersLouellaCaisonandPhyllisYountsatFarmerSchool, .
in Randolph County, North Carolina,and theirclasses
cameupwiththeideaofcreatinga calendarfeaturing
twelve seniorcitizensofthemonth,withbriefbiogra-
phiesbasedonstudentinterviews. Theyexpectedthe
calendar to sell because ofits self-evident usefulness
and,more important,because ofits communityinter-
est. Otherwritingusescouldalsobemadeofsuchrna
terial. Studentscouldbe askedtoreadovertheentire
ent. In this manner, the discrete portraits could be
transformed into an expository essay rich in texture
ergize his rural students turned into a learning strategy
applicableto anypopulation. Krueger(1988) attributes
ographicallocations,theflexibility ofitsproducts(from
ability to diverse age groups and ability levels, and its
found inWigginton's (1985) bookabout his Foxfire ex-
perience,Sometimesa ShiningMoment;Sea Chest, an Invlt;;t,tlo,l'1, to Reflection
award-winning publication from the Cape Hatteras
olina'souterbanks;Earl Seidman's(1991)Interviewing;
and sources from the field ofradio and television jour-
1. Preview. Learnasmuchasyoucanaboutthetopic
2. Plan. Developaloosestrategyforthesequenceof
., .
You wish to use environmental journalism in atwo-semester
classoftenth-gradeaverage English students.You plan to
publish ajournal ofcommunity pieces. How do you imag-
inedesigning this course? Make your choices by answering
thefollowing questions (modified from Krueger [1988]).
1. Will you, theeditors, ortheentireclass make
publication decisions?
2. Howwill production decisionsbemade in the publica-
tion ofyour journal?
rest in
. the in-
that is
rld read-
J. details
1, teach-
. classes
~ t u r i n
eted the
ty inter-
Ie entire
yon cul-
md pres-
:ould be
and en-
rent ge-
ts (from
, and its
12-1 of-
ss in en-
3. Will you, students, orthecommunitycomeupwith
ideas forarticles? \
4. Whatarethemost likelysourcesforthe articles in y\ur
5. Will interviews, libraries, orcommunity research be the
6. Howwillthestudentsgather informationfortheirarticles?
7. Whattechniqueswill yourstudents usebeforethey
begin to writean article?
8. Howmuch ofany given articlewillbewritten in your
classroom underyoursupervision?
9. Will you use peereditorsbeforewritingbegins, during
writing, duringrevision, oronlyforfinal publishing?
Contemporary Excavations
Stock's (1995) dialogic curriculum changes the stu-
dents' investigations from looking into the past to ques-
tioning the present. Nelms (2000) reports that students
interrogate their own community and then "tell their
own stories" by "identifying issues, conducting investiga-
tions, reporting results, and publishing their products"
(p. 54). As a result, alienation and cynicism are trans-
formed into genuine concern. Nelms has such respect for
this new approach to writing that he lists Stock's idea as
one of the five richest contributions to the field of Eng-
lish education in the last decade.
Recently Chiseri-Strater and Sunstein (1997) and
others have added an anthropological dimension to the
environmental approach to writing. Their student
ethnographers invade a town, truck stop, or shopping
mall to take the measure of that particular culture and
report it in a compelling narrative. Zollo (997), for ex-
ample, has a piece entitled "Friday Night at Iowa 80"
that explores the "texts" of a lively truck stop that has
become a culture center for interstate truckers. "Strike
a Pose" (Downing, 1997) offers readers a close look into
the world of "Photo Phantasies" that includes a collec-
tion of twelve artifacts (including a map of the store, a
promotional flyer, a poem posted on the proprietor's
wall, and transcripts of a conversation with a customer)
that collectively spell out the nature of the culture.
Field Working (Chiseri-Strater & Sunstein, 1997) pre-
sents a detailed description of this new step in the en-
vironmental approach to writing; Moffett would call it
"words on world." The world as itis becoming is the fo-
cus of writing-not just the world as it was. The re-
sponses of the anthropologist to our shimmering world
carry us beyond the means of the archeologist in ex-
ploring the wonders of our past. Some teachers believe
that such a broad definition of text takes us just a bit
further down the slippery slope that negates serious
texts altogether and leaves us doing the work of social
studies teachers. Others see this development as the
perfect way to enliven a classroom.
When Piaget looked at the mind, he saw it through the
eyes of his zoological training; he saw it as a growing or-
ganism. Neuropsychologists such as Ornstein (1972)
have looked at its structure and its ways of processing in-
formation to come up with another understanding of the
mind. Rico (1983) wants teachers to employ the "talent
of the two hemispheres in their proper sequence and in
their proper interplay" (p. 10). She calls the left (analyti-
cal) hemisphere the sign mind and the right (artistic)
hemisphere the design mind.
Left Hemisphere Right Hemisphere
Parts (Sign) Connectedness (Design)
explanation images, rhythm
clarity recurring pattern
sequence metaphor
Rico identifies the artistic design mind as the "stepchild"
of schools. She believes that through simple processes,
she can bring most students in her classrooms into con-
tact with the right hemispheric wholeness found in the
writing of children and poets. Her major working tool
comes from an associationallinking of ideas and images in
a roadmap-like design she calls clustering. She claims that
clustering can help students write with greater ease and
authenticity because it works toward wholeness. The
fragmented use of grammar, the frustration of mechaniCS,
and the isolation of most vocabulary study are all products
of left hemisphere-dominated approaches. She believes
that both hemispheres must work in harmony but that the
right hemisphere's search for connections and patterns
must be allowed to work freely and first. Without both
minds at work, writing will fail; but writers must tum off
the nagging sign mind at some point in the process, or it
will wholly quell the design mind.
Rico Clusters
Rico's (1983) book of exercises propels students toward
whole-mind writing. Two exercises-clustering words
alone and clustering with art-suggest her approach. In
the first, she sets the design mind free by asking students
to focus on a kernel word, such as popcorn or revenge (it
can be concrete or abstract), and then begin to allow as-
sociations to rise out of the focal point. Figure 12-3
records the associations that arose when one of us played
with popcorn. The design mind has run free here. (It's
run amok, you might say, but that would be your sign
mind talking.) Rapid responses are important. Rico prom-
ises that the process "unfolds from a center like ripples."
She considers it most important that the process begin
with a word at the center of a blank page. She recom-
mends doodling or darkening lines if the free association
process slows down. The artistic play relaxes you and
lets you exhaust the mind's store momentarily. When the
324 _ CHAPTER 12
screen cooker
hot & salty
FIGURE 12-3 Focal point associations
process is completed, Rico says you'll sense what the
mind maps tell you to write. Glance at the cluster a few
seconds and then write away. No stopping. The mental
footwork has charted a course that you cannot know but
that will lead to something.
An even more productive technique of clustering jux-
taposes the process with evocative art such as that of
Cezanne, Giacometti, Klee, van Gogh, Thrner, Rembrandt,
or Whistler. New works exhibited in a local art gallery
can have the same power. In this exercise, Rico tells stu-
dents to let the design mind pore over the work of art un-
til a dominant impression is formed. With a painting such
as Goya's The Third ofMay, 1808, that impression might
be fear, death, tyranny, or even darkness. Her instructions
are to relax and let the eyes play over the painting. After
scanning it, students take the feeling or dominant im-
pression and use it as the nucleus from which they gen-
erate a cluster of images. She tells them to look at the
central word and return with it to scan the picture. Then,
after a short period, a sense of what to write about will
emerge. At this point, she has students write nonstop for
eight to ten minutes. Rico reports that some of the very
best results she has had were from a class of tough, non-
verbal ninth graders. The right writing approach makes
the unthinkable happen.
Other Paths
The world of graphic organizers and concept maps
makes use of the power of the right brain to help stu-
dents understand and then express themselves. Charac-
ter relationships, arrangement of arguments, and structural
elements of novels can be made vivid by use of such
graphic organizers. Senge (2000) creates a whole host of
graphic organizers that help people present ideas in writ-
ing and even p{ompt clarification of complex constructs.
Behavior over tl\1e graphs, causal fIle diagrams, and other
nonlinguistic representations provide real insights for
students confronting complex relationships, as he demon-
strates by charting the young boys' progressively brutal
behavior in Lord of the Flies.
Dellinger (1982) offers another extremely effective'
way to reach the design mind through the use of photo-
graphs of striking people. In the prospector and the child
activity, each student is given a photo of an old prospec-
tor or a sad child (or any other dissimilar and provocative
pair). Working with a partner, each student writes a
monologue as if he or she were the child or the prospec-
tor. Students paired as prospector and child read their
monologues to each other. They talk about how they see
the characters in the monologues. Then, as a team, they
write a dialogue in which they find a common ground
and speak to each other. After they read the dialogue,
they plan a story line for a vignette in which the two talk
in the context of the events of a story. Finally, the students
read the story and discuss their sense of what it is about. .
They explore ideas, the characters, and the tone. Then
each student writes an essay that locates something uni-
versal or public in the relationship of the pair: loneliness,
differing views of time between the very old and the very
young, or healing grief. Thus, students move from mono-
logue to dialogue to story to essay. Student-selected pho- :
tographs of interesting characters provide a similar
structure for writing alone and then in tandem.
Wood (1985), a knowledgeable but healthily skeptical
neuropsychologist, believes that much of what has been
drawn from the hard research in his field has been
overextended by the popularizers and practitioners. He
argues that our basic tendencies toward either flight or
fight are the only ones we can count on as the conse-
quence of bilateral asymmetry. Wood characterizes those
whose cognitive style is to sprawl as "cowboys"; those
who focus and pinpoint are caricatured as "librarians."
Those who sprawl see the big picture. Those who focus
move in close to the reality at hand, dwelling on detail.
Wood pictures the coordination of these brains as the left
hand (right-hemisphere cowboy) holding the nail and the
right hand (left-hemisphere librarian) placing a well-
aimed blow to its head.
We can fmd a pedagogical analogy here and apply it to
interpretation and writing about literature. We will use as
our example Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 (page 11 in Chap-
ter 1). You may have looked at this poem through the lens
of imagery, structure, persona, metrics, or other analytical
frames. You may be unaware of these tools and still have
made use of them. When you examined the poem, you
may have noted the metaphors of time and space that
compare love to exploration and hazard; you may have
been struck by the prohibitionary not and never; you
may have been conscious of the writer-lover who under-
Isights for
vely brutal
y effective
t writes a
statesineachvenue. Thenatureoftheexaminationap- , Howmanytimes canyourecall discussing literature us-
pears tobeto lookattheparticular,the discrete. Focus
lyze literatureforawritingassignment.
Henry(1974) presentsan alternative in his briefbut
explosive book Teaching Reading As Concept Develop-
ment. Hisideaistolookbiginsteadofsmallinreadinglit-
he uses it and two otherpoemsthatcircle roughly the
Sanle topic:love. Heselectsalsow: B. Yeats's"For Anne
Gregory"and AnneSexton's"TheFarmer'sWife." Teach-
ing Activity 12-1 demonstrates his method of explo-
Chapter6. We believethatthis shiftto therightside of
the mind provokes rich and plentiful insights. Seeing
three visions at once can clarify all three. Shelly Hale
in herstudent teaching and developed othertrios. She
AdrienneRich, "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers"
EzraPound, "TheRiver-Merchant'sWife: ALetter"
e. e. cummings,"ifthere areanyheavens mymother
Right-Left Continuum
insights moves students from writing about concrete
objects to writing about texts (Milner, 1976). It, like
Hillocks's(1995) Teaching Writing As Reflective Prac-
tice, looksatthepowerofsequenceandprogressionin
writing. In hemispheric terms, this strategy invites
cludewithwrittentexts(those materials thatare
processed linearly, analytically, and logically). See the
Cultural Artifacts. Writing in this sequence begins at
thefarrightwithseeing.Justastheartistis saidtopaint
artifacts (suchas cheesecrackers)canbesetbeforethe
Far Left Near Left Center Left Center Right Near Right Far Right
shortfiction dramaticverse dramaticperformance film,TV visual arts everydayobjects, artifacts
ConsiderHenry'sthreesuggested poemsas aunit: Shakespeare's Sonnet 116,Yeats's "ForAnneGregory,"
and Sexton's "The Farmer'sWife."AVenn diagram may be helpful as you explorewhatis commontotwo(A,
B, orq andwhatiscentral to all (X).
Commongroundamongthe poems mightemergethrough questionssuch as thefollowing:
Doyou find anyaspectofloveuponwhich all three poets agree(X)?
Doany two poets perceivecommonqualitiesin the loverelationships between men andwomen (A, B,
Whichpoets appearto have morerealistic viewsoflove?Whichhave more idealized views?
Whichviewofloveappeals mosttoyou? Why?
Doyou sense adialoguein anyofthese poems?Whom is the narratoraddreSSing?
Imagineall ofthenarratorsgathered together. Whatwould you say tothem togetherand as
Whichoftheothertwonarrators mightSexton choosefor her husband?
Which poem wouldyou send tosomeoneyou loved?Whydoyou makethatchoice?
326 _ CHAPTER 12
preCislOn. When such a limited visual space is estab- Kohlberg orErikson prompts thewriterto respondini-
lished, response is intensified. Such graphic concentra- tially interms ofcharacterandtheme ratherthanmore
tion builds a reportorial confidence that infuses the formally. Whenwritersdowriteaboutformal concerns,
student'swriting.Moststudentsknowthattheireyesare studentsshouldbeurgedtoconsidertheminrelationto
as sharp as anyone else's and that they do not have to personal response and meaning. It is thenthat theyoc-
makeanyingeniousinterpretationbeyondtheirrangeof cupythewholeofthecontinuum.
With this hemispheric strategy, we need neithere!>-
chewliteraturenorwhollyadore it. Boththevisualand
Visual Arts. Visualartslieatthenear-rightposition,so the literal can be used at the appropriate juncture. We
the global process is still primary. Ideas and generaliza- needmerelytolocateourstudents'placesonthecontin-
tionstakeabackseattosensorialexperience. Theobject uumandthenoffertheappropriatematerialsfromwhich
isprocessedimmediately;themindgoesfromline,shape, theirwritingmaymostfreelyandpowerfullyflow.
and color directly to meaning. Students who have not
studiedorevenseenthememorable still lifes of Ameri-
alog manyofthe tricks the artist has massed to convey
FaderandMcNeil(1968),inHooked on Books: Program
and Proof,' describehowdailyjournalswereusedatthe
Film and Television. Filmandtelevisionaredominated
Maxey Training School in Michigan and resulted in stu-
dents'becomingfreer about expressing themselves,di!>-
covering that they had much to say, and developing
tothevisualintensity; yetbecauseoftheverbalintrusion,
1960shasbecomea growingeducationalphenomenon:
these media function as a halfway house in the move
journal writing. Other terms are used almost synony-
mously: diaries, commonplace books, writing note-
books, daybooks, andthinkbooks. Journalshavebecome
Dramatic Performance. The kinship between dra-
almostas popularinbiologyandmathclassroomsasthey
matic performance andfilm (orteleVision) is obvious.
haveinEnglishclassrooms. Thedownsideofthispopu-
It is closekintotextualliteraturebecauseit is read as
larityis thatacommonstudentcomplainthasbecome"I
well as seen,but it is distinct from literature because
have to keep a journalinfour ofmy five classes!"Why
there is no author who mediates the reality orcom-
have journals become so popular with teachers? They
poundsthecomplexity. Thisright-brainedqualitymakes
mayappeartobefaddish,buttheiruseis basedonsound
ususeit beforeothertextualformsinthiscomposition
Dramatic Verse. At near left, perhaps surprisingly,
c01nvitationto Reflection
comeswhatwecalldramaticverse. Thisreadablepoetry,
whichadds voices and actionlocatedin particulartime
andspace,comesbeforeflCtionbecauseitis moreimme- 1. Wnatadditionaltypesot iournalsnaveyouneardot
diate and intense. Studentscanrespondto a reasonable beingusedorcanyou imagineusing?
andprovocativepoemalmostastheymighttoaworkof 2. Whichofthese iournal types doyou thinkwouldbest
visualart;itstandsbeforethemall atonce.In all poetry, servestudents' personal uses?Whicnwould bestserve
thespatialqualityismoresignificantthanitisinflCtion. pedagogical aims?
But because most poetry is highly condensed,intense,
3. Considerthefollowinglistof possiblepurposestobe
servedby iournalwriting.Wnicnseemimportantand
useful? Wny?
to makeconnectionsbetween personal experience
Short Fiction. Fiction,onthefar left,requires full left-
andtneclass material at nand
hemisphere attention; but it can be used to promote writ-
to recapitulate thecourse material tnrough identify-
ing that ignores formal matters at first-writing that
ingwhathas been learned, whatis confusing, and
attends primarily to emotional response and meaning. wnatneedsturtnerstudy
The Aristotelian premise ofbeginningwithone's emo- to assess learning
tive responsetotheworkdoesmuchtokeepthatfocus.
to collectobservations, responses, anddata
Centering on what Fowler (1981) refers to as "faith is- to practicewriting
sues"(essentialquestionsrelatedtoone'sworldview)or to experimentwith voice
using developmental constructs such as those of toexaminetheself
toclarifyval ues
to have an ungraded forum forwriting
to provide astudent's feelings and
understandi ng
to bearepositoryforwritingideas and materials
to have achronological record ofstudentthought
and opinion duringaterm
to have promptsforclassroom discussion
The research ofBrittonetal. (1975),describedinThe
Development ofWriting Ability, 11-18, analyzed writing
inall subjectareasinBritish secondaryschoolswhereex-
tended writing occurred. Two writing dimensions that
Britton andhis colleagues describe indetail haveimport
for journalwriting:therelation ofthewriterto the audi-
enceandthepurposeof writing(discussedinChapter11).
gestions for their positive and efficient use. Itsuggests
that students write in loose-leafnotebooks so that they
volunteers read whole entries aloud,have everyone read
onesentenceto thewholeclass,have partnersshareone
passage witheachother,etc. (Ineachcase,studentswho
tively countstudentjournalsinsomeway,perhaps"acer-
tainnumberof points, aplusaddedtoagrade, oranin-elass
resource for taking tests." The guidelines advise teachers
nottowritea response to eachentrybuttoskimandre-
spondtoselectedentries. NCTE'sfmal proposalis thatat
numbers,(b)a titleforeachentry,(c)a tableofcontents,
and(d) anevaluativeconclusion. ThissynthesiZingactiv-
ity requires journalwriters to treat theirdocuments seri-
termofstudy"(quotedinNewkirk,1990,p. 276).
all enhance the possibility ofstudents' moving toward
deeplyprobingjournals. Thesethreeconditionsdeserve
Freedom is what drives students toward depth be-
disapproval are removed, they may write about
what truly matters. What matters is what creates
good writing. They write for the purpose ofex-
Confidentiality guaranteesstudents'right to privacy.
With thisguaranteetheywill morelikelyriskwrit-
ing about private thoughts and feelings. Students
are often caught in the paradox ofwanting total
the same time, wanting a trusted, sensitive other
solve the paradox by allowing secret journals or
"flopped"journals,inwhichstudents reviewtheir
Respect means prizing the studentwith no thought
ofevaluatingorselectingonlythosefeatures that
appear to be good and dismissing those that
seembad. Theteacher'sresponsecanapproachin
the classroom what Rogers (1957) believes to be
the counseling encounter: genuineness, empathy,
anda highlevelofpositiveregard.Journalwriting
removesmanyof thebarriersbetweenstudentsand
Journalwritingcanbeparticularlyeffective withESL
students who are hesitant to speak in class. Kooy and
Chiu(1998)help ESL studentsovercometheirlanguage
difficulties inliterature studybyhaving themfirst write
out their thoughts about a text in reading logs. "As stu-
words,asking questions,orstatingafact abouta charac-
idate the students'abilities to interpret and understand
texts (p. 115). Kooy and Chiu (1998) believe that
"[rjecording their thinking also gives ESL students 're-
a literaryvocabularythatadmits themtoliterarydiscus-
sions and communities-incredibly important to new-
comerstoEnglish"(p. 83).
journalassignments that suggest the diversity and com-
plexityofthis approach. Theyaddresstwodilemmasin
journal writing: how to encourage greater depth ofre-
Intensestructuressuchas thatdevelopedbyProgoff
(1975) have been designed to promotea deeplevel of
and the conscious world of observation and insight
(keptina yellownotebook). Thetwo worlds aresepa-

Have students make log entries three times a week during time aSSigned in class or as homework. Suggest a
specific question or ask students to free-write. As a departure from explanatory prose forms, suggest that stu-
dents experiment with one of the following forms. Collect the logs periodically every four or five weeks. Re-
spond to, but do not grade, the work.
show your disappointment? Was there anything you
could have done to change the situation? Explain. Who
what disappoints you the most? Why? How? i
You awaken one morning and fmd you have turned intoI
an animal. You have the same mind but a different body/.
What animal are you? Describe your day.
What cruelty have you seen or experienced? How did yOll
feel about it? Are children more cruel than adults?
What are five ways you personally exercise control II
power over people or situations? Describe how you fe:
when this happens. Evaluate your method of control all
tell whether it is negative or positive. How? Considl
how you feel when others exercise control over you; aU
consider how you feel when you are in control of yOll
self. What feels best? Why?
Write a letter to yourself today as though you were eigtu
For some students, school writing has been so tediol
and arid that reaching into the personal dimensions
emotion and imagination is the only way to remove t:
block to writing. Somewhere in these journaling sugg\
tions lies a new pathway for writing for those studern
They might find themselves like Frank McCourt, authorr
Angela's Ashes, who wrote: "I learned to recognize tt
significance in my insignificant life."
1. dreams 16. fantasies
2. satires 17. sarcasms
3. aphorisms 18. axioms
4. reviews 19. critiques
5. conceits 20. analogies
6. essays 21. editorials
7. polemics 22. diatribes
8. encomiums 23. panegyrics
9. fables 24. parables
10. allegories 25. myths
11 . lyrics 26. verbosities
12. analyses 27. epiphanies
13. meditations 28. introspections
14. narrations 29. yarns
15. commercials 30. sophistries
the yellow. From the juxtaposition, students create a
new journal (a blue one) and a new reality.
The choices presented in Teaching Activity 12-2
shake from journal writing that has become too
pat and invariant. For instance, a student who is always
aloof and distant might be drawn toward more personal
writing when dreams, aphorisms, encomiums, myths, and
introspections are ordered up by fate or by date. For the
sentimental writer, polemics, sarcasms, critiques, and
sophistries may turn the tide. The swift rotation from
mode to mode and form to form is enlivening and, once
sustained for a time, can lead to exploration and discov-
ery for a young writer.
Specific prompts for journal writing arise out of many
different purposes. Probst's reader response questions
posed in Chapter 2 could be used as points for reflection
about specific texts, for instance. The following general
writing topics are selected from those that Neenan
(1989) found to be provocative with her students.
Describe a time when you felt afraid. How did you deal
with that fear? What was the outcome?
Write a letter to God.
Cite an instance when you have been disappointed about
something. Why were you disappointed? How did you
328 _tCHAPTER 12
When a history or biology teacher becomes interested in
writing across the curriculum, that zeal has probably
been spurred by a desire to have all students write better:
fewer errors, better organization, greater clarity. At a time
when teachers see all too many errors and all too few
writing virtues, such enthusiasm is understandable. What
they champion is learning to write, but what is even more
important in schools is writing to learn. Ifyou turn the
concept around and think of writing as a tool for stronger
and clearer thinking (Langer & Applebee, 1987), you can
see that it is a powerful instrument for instruction in all
subject areas. And because it is an instrument that will
improve achievement in all subjects, it is easier to sell to
all of your colleagues in history and biology.
Figure 12-4 summarizes assumptions about the con-
nections between language and thought that have clear
applications here. These assumptions suggest why writ-
ing is as relevant to a science class as it is to an English
class. Ifmath teachers can be shown how to make use
of writing to help their students solidify and expand
their grasp of basic or sophisticated math concepts,
they will listen to your ideas and employ writing in
their classes. But if you ask them to take on the job of
making students write better, all but a few will politely
disengage from the conversation. They may ask what
you've done lately for numeracy if you ask them to help
with literacy. Tierney (1990), Griffiths (1991), Fulwiler
and Young (1982), and others have demonstrated
countless ways to make learning deep and long-lasting
through the use of writing across the curriculum. We of-
fer two ways to use writing as a tool for learning: one
from basic math and one from AP biology.
Math and Science
U.K. headmaster Neil Griffiths uses tiles to help students
understand mathematical patterns and sequences. He
asks students how many square tiles will be needed to
surround a central tile and then how many tiles would be
needed ifanother tile is added to the center. After each
query, he directs the students to think about the problem
about language
and thought
and write down their answers. Some are confused; some
challenge himabout what he means by surround(he en-
courages that kind of care with words); others quickly fig-
ure the answer to be two. He then asks them how many
tiles would be needed to surround the central tiles ifa
third tile were added. At this point he asks them to ex-
plain their answers. Some give simple answers; some see
it visually; some few see it as a mathematical pattern and
explain it in those terms. He uses their writing to provide
a picture of their thinking so that he can identify prob-
lems and students can profit from a comparison of their
thinking with their peers'.
In his AP biology class, Bob Tierney uses writing in a
different way but to the same purpose: to increase un-
derstanding. He says that he never lectures longer than
eight minutes because more would be lost on his stu-
dents. Instead, he uses writing. During a lecture, he asks
each student to take notes on the lefthand page of a spiral-
bound notebook. After Tierney has completed his brief
explanation and the students' pages are ftlled, he asks
each student to divide the righthand page into a top and
bottom half. On the top half he asks students to put into
their own words what they have just learned. Then he
asks them to divide the lower half into two equal right
and left sides. The left side is to be used to answer the
question "So what?" and the right side is to be used to
sketch out a diagram or graphic representation of the
concept just encountered. Figure 12-5 shows what the
whole spread looks like in a physics lesson on volume
and mass. Using all four steps to capture concepts takes
longer than the traditional lecture and note-taking
method does. Less ground can be covered. But Tierney's
(1990) research and that of others shows that although
the traditional method of lecture and note taking devel-
ops performance equal to that developed by Tierney's
methods at end-of-course testing, the results two and
three years later are significantly greater for those who
use Tierney's methods of writing to learn.
Writing to predict what will happen in experiments,
writing to capture very accurate observations/writing to
define abstractions such as angles, writing to connect
course concepts with personal experience, writing to ex-
press tentative understanding of a poem, writing to cap-
ture the conversation of a small group exploring why
1. When people articulateconnectionsbetween newinformationand whattheyalreadyknow, theylearnand
understandthatnewinformationbetter(Bruner, 1966).
2. When people thinkandfigurethingsout, theydoso in symbolsystemscommonlycalledlanguages, which
aremostoftenverbal butmayalsobe mathematical,musical, visual,andso on (Vygotsky, 1962).
3. When people learn, they useallofthelanguagemodes-reading,writing, speaking, andlistening;each
mode helpspeople learnin auniqueway (Emig, 1977).
4. When people writeaboutnewinformation andideas-inadditiontoreading, talking, andlistening-they
learnand understandthembetter(BrittonetaI., 1975).
5. When people careaboutwhatthey writeandseeconnectionstotheirown lives,theyboth learn and write
better(Moffett, 1968).
330 _iCHAPTER 12
Tierney notebook
port cities are laid out differently from river cities, and
no moss"means and what the language intends-allof
theseuses ofwritingenhancelearningandsolidifycon-
teresting writing tasks that support learning across the
curriculum. We report a few of her best suggestions,
which you canuse to build a larger repertoire ofyour
fromall foods?
Whichplanet,asidefrom Earth,seemstoyoutobe
of four?
WhatthreewordsbestdescribetheBill ofRights?
Difficult Problems
problemsillustrates the powerofwriting tolearn. The
basic ideainall oftheproblemsposedinFigure 12-6is
ceptualizewhattheyare learning. Each ofthe tasks as-
signedis difficultandencouragestalkingandwritingto
Lecture Notes Student Notes
So What
Boat in
self workingwithcolleaguesinotherdisciplines;andthis .
willhavetheunexpectedbenefitof helpingyouintegrate
the powerofthe full curriculum into your teachingof
English. You also will find that,althoughyou are selling
writingacross thecurriculumas awaytohelp students
ing about things that they come to understand deeply.
writing is purposeful human activity, not just academic
labor. Personalwriting subjectedtoseriousinquiryand
feedbackwilltakeonvalueforwritersthemselves, asare-
flectionofitsvalueforothers"(p. 174.)
ing instruction that addresses the issue that concerns
population:that ofdetermining"good"and"bad"gram-
mar. Many teachers,andthepublicatlarge,wantyoung
usage. They see current usage as a corruption ofthe
norms ofeducated language; the teacher's charge is to
teach students Standard English. As we discussed in
Chapter3, among many educators,linguists,and public .
figures, thereis a counterargument. Thisgroup reasons
dignitythataccruestothatlanguage. Theirunderlyingas-
sumption is that language has no ftxed and permanent
rulesbecauseitis constantlychanging. Thecriterionfor
judgingusage is not"Is itcorrect?"but"Does it work in
Program Requirements
Smitherman (1989) enumerates three standards that all
Allteachers shouldknowenoughaboutlinguistics
re- guage (for example, Spanish, Chinese, or German)
languages. Furthermore, she argues, they will struggle
userswhoare askedtoacquire asecondlanguage. Both
groupswillsharethecommongroundof anacquiredlan-
guage. Herprogramafftrms non-StandardEnglishusage
on practical and psychological grounds while acknowl-
whichitis thedominantlanguage.
afour-step plandevelopedbyElifson (1977)for the At-
lanta Public Schools and the employees of Coca-Cola.
1. ThecaptainofaDutchcargovessel wasconcernedthatthewaterlevel in thecanal lockwastoolowforhis
heavily loadedvessel.Hewas notsurewhattodowhen the lockcommandant,whospokealanguagehe
didnotunderstand,tried toofferasolution.Ayoungdeckhandfinallycame uptosuggestasolution:Toss
thetwoextremelyheavybutworthless leadcylindersoverboard.Shouldthecaptainfollowthesuggestion? If
hedoes,will the waterinthelockrise, remain the same, orfall? Explainyouranswerin aclearwritten
Usetwobakingtins, twobatteries,water, andapenciltotestyourpreviousthoughtful response.Be sure
thatthe largertinis almost3/4full whenyou startyourexperiment.Writeyournewexplanationofwhatwill
happenifyourexperimentprovedsomethingdifferentfromwhatyou wrotepreviously.
2. Acamperhas3fish tocookon hercampfireand mustcookeachofthemfor2minuteson eachside.
Becauseshehasasmallgrill, shecan onlycook2fish atatime. Explain in writingthemostefficient
3. Findthenextnumberin thisseries:7,12,27,72,207,__.
Explain in writing howanyonecanfind thatanswer.
4. Threebasketssiton ahigh ledgewithsignsoverthem thatcorrectly marktheircontents:Apples, Pears,
Mixed.Acleverchild mixes upthesignssothatnoneofthesignscorrectlyindicateswhatisactuallyinthe
basketbelow.Theorchardownerdecidestomakeagameofitby allowingyou to reach intooneofthe
basketsaboveyou and, withoutbeingableto seewhatis inthebasket, pickoutonepieceoffruit.The
reward isthatifyou thencan putallthesignsoverthe correctbaskets,you can haveallthreebaskets
withoutcharge. Explain in writinghowyou mightbeattheorchardowneratthisgame.
likeSmitherman,Elifson'sftrst steprequiresthatteachers
time. Theymustthen make studentsunderstandthat all
language systems work equallywell,although somewhat
differently. Theymustafftrm the language ofall students
andencourageorpermitthemtouse thatlanguagewith
conftdenceandenergy. Thisstepmustbetreatedseriously
for instance, a study ofconcrete examples ofvariability
(sampling,polling,andinterpretingtheresults). Itis impor-
tant,too,todiscuss freely thevalue ofpluralism andofa
should beexplored. ElliSon sees threeimportantrealities
whichthelanguageis beingused.
All languages are equally effective in transmitting
Standard language helps to open the paths ofop-
portunityfor all students;inability toswitchtothe
With this framework ofattitudes in place, students can
temordialect. Theycanembracerewardsofthislanguage
Switching Principles
Elifson sets up four principles to guide the process of
Make thetransition toStandardEnglishinoral,not
332 _, CHAPTER 12
Move from wholly controlled language drills to ones
that allow spontaneity of language.
Develop the ability to switch codes by creating ex-
ercises in which students can develop conscious-
ness of their language.
Unless attention is given to a few points at which the dif-
ferences between the nonstandard and standard are most
notable, students will be frustrated by the size and diffi-
culty of the task. (In setting up a program of this type at
a local high school, we used student papers as our source
for sentences that departed from Standard English.) Be-
cause oral language is our most fundamental language, ba-
sic code switches can be made most readily and most
lastingly if they are begun at the oral level. Ifstudents be-
gin to talk in the standard code, their writing will likely
follow suit. The reverse is not true.
Program Outline
The program begins with rather strict controls on the oral
productions of students. Students hear a sentence read
that was written with nonstandard usage-for example,
Rony ate a whole nother dinner. Students then repeat the
sentence by"correcting" it to standard usage using guide-
lines provided by the teacher. Gradually, the language un-
der scrutiny moves from short memorized parts in plays,
to planned and recorded speeches, and fmally to almost
wholly spontaneous talk. Control for the analysis, critique,
and change also moves from teacher to student. The pro-
gression of Elifson's activities is as follows:
pattern drills
short, memorized dramas
planned speeches
unmemorized, planned skits
planned oral speeches
controlled discussion
role playing
impromptu speeches
For the program to work, consciousness must de-
velop. If language change and variability are explored
with openness and without judgment, language has a
chance to become interesting to students. If,however, it
is treated in an entirely prescriptive way, as rules to be
mastered, a healthy consciousness of language may well
be stymied and experimentation stifled. Students are left
with no interest, desire, or method for exploring their
own language. Rather, they become self-conscious and
silenced in the presence of those they consider to be
Four principles undergird the work of the class: tar-
get areas are well selected, transitions are oral, control is
released, and consciousness of language is developed.
In our teaching we have adapted Elifson's progression.
We laid the groundwork in discussions of language
change and variability, discussed honestly the power of
all languages to communicate, explored the value of
code switching, and then began a regimen of five,
minute pattern drills. Each day began with a short drillI
based on eight sentences in the target area, such as the:
1. Braden come home last night.
2. Willy run fast.
3. Mozelle done eat.
4. Jack and Fred they can't stay tonight.
5. Sally bes mad at me.
6. Wanda ain't going with us.
7. Felisha ain't got none.
8. We might could find some.
A sample week of lessons is presented in Figure 12-7..
Through this series of five days, each student works in the
target area; moves from oral to written language; works!
with controlled and then somewhat more spontaneoUS!
language; and develops self-consciousness by the repeili
tion, the emphasis, and the markings. The short versiolT
of this program used in our schools proved to be remark,
ably effective in a period of weeks. Itresulted not only in
control of standard features but also in greater confii
dence in writing. While the success of such programs hal
been remarkable, the need to approach them with delib:
erate organization and care is imperative.
Pattern drill
Monday. Theteachergiveseachstudentalistoften StandardEnglish sentenceswith the targetarea underlined.
faultysentence,andstudents respond by sayingthesentenceemphasizingtheunderlinedstandardform.
Tuesday. Theteacherreads the samefaulty sentence, andthestudentsrespond usinganewsheetwith thetenl
StandardEnglishsentencesbutwithoutthe targetedareamarked.Again they respond by emphasizingtheareal
Wednesday. The students have no sheetbutrespond to the faulty sentence emphasiZingthe correct usage as;
theyhaveon thefirsttwodays.
Thursday. Thestudentshaveasheetwiththenonstandardfeatureunderlinedandareaskedtowritethesentence;
correctlyabovethe faultyone.
Friday. Onthefinalday, thestudentshavethesamesheetbutwith unmarkednonstandardsentences.Theywrite!
las a

) be


In the middle of the twentieth century, at about the time
that structural grammar was moving into classroom text-
books, another system for understanding the English lan-
guage was developing. This system, known as generative
(or transformational) grammar, moved from describing
syntactic structures to understanding the deeper struc-
ture that produced them. By delineating the mental
processes underlying the transformation, which could
produce an infinite and varied number of sentences from
afew basic structures, grammarians sought to explain the
intricacies of language.
Noam Chomsky's (1957) Syntactic Structures gave the
most prominent description of the formal structures of
the English language as something we acquire or absorb
without training: All sentences originate as simple decla-
rations or"kernels,"which comprise the deep structure of
those sentences. The basic kernel is S-V-O: Rain (subject)
pelts (verb) sidewalks (object). Various transformations
of these kernels, through negatives, appositives, and pos-
sessives, for instance, produce more complex surface
structures. The basic task for generative or transforma-
tional grammar was to articulate the rules by which the
basic kernel sentences could be transformed into all the
possible sentences of English. Roberts (1956), for exam-
ple, in Patterns ofEnglish, distilled from the English lan-
guage a set of twenty basic sentences.
English teachers were faced with an uncomfortable
question: Which grammar should we teach, traditional or
generative? Many teachers and educators, reluctant to be
drawn into a grammarians' war, found much traditional
grammar clear and useful yet discerned possibilities for
writing instruction in generative grammar. Linguistic re-
search (Chomsky, 1968) suggested that students at a cer-
tain stage of maturity (about fifth grade) have acquired a
template for comprehending complex sentences by
merely having heard them repeatedly. They understand
syntactic complexity before they use it.
Sentence combining was the classroom application of
these new grammatical insights. Some teachers believed
that students might be taught to use a wider repertoire of
sentence structures imprinted on them to improve the
syntactic maturity of their writing. Although its original
popularity has declined, it remains an effective teaching
strategy for encouraging syntactic growth. It invites stu-
dents to build rather than repair sentences.
Christensen (1967) experimented with having stu-
dents generate strong sentences from basic sentence
structures. Mellon (1969) suggested rules for transform-
ing two or three simple sentences and then combining
them into one sentence. Strong (1973) and O'Hare
(1975) simplified the process by dropping the rules and
merely asking students to combine sets of kernels to form
new complex sentences.
Strong Kernels
"Motorcycle Pack," shown here, is a typical set of Strong's
(1973) kernels. Individuals or groups can combine the
short sentences within each cluster by adding coordi-
nating and subordinating structures or by embedding
Strong's Kernels: Motorcycle Pack*
1. We could hear them coming.
2. They were way off in the distance.
3. They were winding down the road.
4. The road was through the mountains.
5. The road was east oftown.
6. The sound made us think of power saws.
7. But the sound was more sustained.
8. The sound was deeper.
9. The sound got louder.
10. The first one broke into view.
11. He was at the edge of town.
12. The edge is where the brush is thick.
13. The brush was full of shadows.
14. The others swarmed behind him.
15. The others rapped their pipes.
16. The others brought the noise.
17. The noise was like a wave.
18. The leader geared down.
19. The gearing down was at the grocery store.
20. The leader set the pace.
21. The pace was swaggering.
22. The pace was through the middle of town.
23. The leader did not glance to the side.
24. The leader did not acknowledge the people.
25. The people watched from the sidewalk.
26. The leader personilled seriousness.
27. The leader personilled bravado.
28. The seriousness was leather.
29. The bravado was chrome.
30. The others stared at his back.
31. The others tried to imitate him.
32. The others tried their best.
33. He lifted his right hand.
34. The lifting was at the highway.
35. The highway belonged to the state.
36. The highway intersected Main Street.
37. The pack leaned to the right.
38. The pack followed him.
39. The pack accelerated toward the road.
40. The road was open.
"From W. Strong, 1973, Sentence combining.A composing book. New
York: Random House. Reprinted with permission.
334 _ CHAPTER 12
41. Exhaustrippedtheair. plore the deep structure of the language, the mental
42. Theexhaustwasfrommotorcycles. processesatworkintheirorganizationofthoughtsinto
43. Theexhaustwaslikeaninsult. language, and ways to connect their thoughts more
44. Theairhealed.
Teachers and students themselves can provide sen- .
45. Thehealingtookall day.
tence kernels that appeal to the special interests ofthe .
Teaching Activity12-3isanexampleof howsentence students who use them. For instance, a teacher might
combining might be organized as a class activity using present a work ofart, such as van Gogh's Self-Portrait,
Strong's"MotorcyclePack." andaskstudentstonoteitsdetails:
Other Sources Hisearisbandaged.
His chinis coveredwithalightbeard.
Themanualsof Strongandothersareobvioussourcesfor
interesting kernel sentences that engage students. In
English: Writing and Skills, Winterowd and Murray
(1985) used sentence combining in a general language Once theirobservations arenoted,they areasked to .
arts text. They combined aspects oftraditional, struc- combinetheirlistintoonesentence.Ormorepersonally'
tural,andgenerativegrammarthattheyconsideredtobe still,ateachermightaskstudentssimplytodescribewhat
mosthelpfulinenablingstudentstounderstandhowthe theyobserveintheclassroomorduringanathleticcon
Englishlanguagefunctions. Theyalsoincludedexercises testorpeprally. (thisexercisealsoencouragescloseob-
thatencouragesentencevarietyandfluencybythejoin- servationofdetail andtheuseofclear,preciselanguage
ing ofsentences. Like the best ofgenerative grammar, and requires a more active engagement in the kind of
Winterowd and Murray's strategy leads students to ex- thinking so important to writing.) After students have
Small Group
Dividestudents intotrios.
Each individual in atriotakes the simple, choppy, unmodified sentences ofeach cluster in "Motorcycle
Pack" and combinesthem intoonecomplexsentence.
The trioselects the mostappealingsentenceofeach cluster. (In onetrio, forexample, thefirst student
mightarrangethefirst clusterlikethis: Wecould hear them coming from far off in the distance winding
down the mountain road east of town. The second student mightcomeup withanothersentence: From
a distance wecould hear them winding down the road through the mountain east of town. And the
third mightwriteyet another: Wecould hear them coming way off in the distance as they were east of
town winding down the mountain road.)
The trio reads thethree sentences and decideswhich itlikesbest.
They then combinetheten extended sentences to createacompressedand rich narrativeaboutthe
Whole Class
Each groupreads its narrativeto thewholeclass.
The class comparesthe storiesfortheirfluencyand complexity.
Individualswriteseveral sentences thatuse theirowncontentbutimitatethestructureoftheirfavorite
combined sentences.

ed to
: con-
;e ob-
nd of
recorded their observations, they can take the simple sen-
tence constructions and turn them into mature complex
Teachers have another source of kernel sentences in
students' own writing. If students overuse simple con-
structions, a string of their own sentences (or just two)
can help them realize the power of the approach for im-
proving their fluency, clarity, and style. Hillocks's (1995)
meta-analysis of sixty-five studies of writing instruction
cites sentence combining as more effective than any
other strategy except inquiry. (The use of rubrics was the
only other instructional method that was its equal.)
Other quantitative research, such as that of Combs (1977)
and Daiker, Kerek, and Morenberg (1986), indicates that
sentence combining produces improvement in sentence
complexity across all ages measured. It provides a strat-
egy that many students need and a concrete skill that all
students can learn and confidently apply. Sentence com-
bining also demystifies questions of rhetorical style and
allows inexperienced writers a point of entry into talking
about it.
Teachers can also use the technique to sensitize stu-
dents to the constructions of professional writers. We
have seen teachers decombine interesting or important
sentences from the text under study and then have stu-
dents recombine and compare theirs with the original.
Another technique asks students to choose several mem-
orable sentences written by the professional and to imi-
tate the structure of those sentences with content of
their own. Another strategy is to abridge the sentence of
such a writer, mark the deleted phrases, and ask students
to expand the sentence at those marks. We know a
teacher who even has her students recombine Heming-
way's sentences!

Writing skills that promote organization, development,
and coherence are essential to the deep structure of a
piece of writing. Other features seem far less essential
and are sometimes left out of the equation of good writ-
ing. (These are sometimes called surface features and re-
ceive surface attention.) We know, however, from the
Hairston (1981) study of usage that a preponderance of
professionals who read the sentences in her survey were
troubled by problems of usage, punctuation, and vocabu-
lary. Vocabulary can significantly enhance or diminish
writing, and it can be improved by good teaching.
A student'S vocabulary growth can be seen as a natu-
ral process that continues as he or she moves through all
of the school years. We know, however, that vocabulary
growth depends on the student's environment: It can
flourish or Wither. The six-year-old brings as many as
6,000 words to school that are clearly not the result of di-
rect parental instruction (de Villeas & de Villeas, 1978);
rather, they are gleaned from the word world that sur-
rounds the child. We know that voracious readers gather
the strongest vocabularies. Students who live in talk-rich
environments in which new words are used repeatedly
in lively and enticing discourse will also grow robust
vocabularies. The consciousness awakened by seeing
words in print may give some edge to the early readers;
however, seeing words in print enables any secondary
student to respond more to informed vocabulary instruc-
tion. Adolescent learners are developing a new con-
sciousness of themselves and of language that was not a
part of their elementary years.
Our basic question is, then, "How shall we best con-
tribute to this natural process during the secondary
school years?" We know that our contribution to the
process will not be large as a percentage of total vo-
cabulary, but it can be important. Although the public's
ire about low standardized test scores has prompted
serious work in this area of the secondary English cur-
riculum, that attention has often resulted in a one-
dimensional approach to teaching vocabulary. Educators
are developing better ways to improve the vocabulary
of adolescents.
Moffett's and Wagner's ideas about reception and pro-
duction of language (discussed throughout this text) are
seminal here. Students have a reception or decoding vo-
cabulary that differs from their production or encoding
vocabulary: One they understand only partially; the other
they feel free to use. What they risk in one situation, they
won't risk in another. Our job, as with sentence com-
bining, is to help them move the larger reception vocab-
ulary over to production so that they will risk using
newly incorporated words to empower their utterances,
private and public, oral and written. The following four
strategies for vocabulary development grow out of this
The span from acquisition to semantics moves from un-
conscious collection to playfulness with language. Ac-
quisition is influenced by three important conduits for
new language: texts, talk, and television. While written
words are the only way to acquire spelling power, the two
other modes can be engaged to propel vocabulary
growth. And because we believe that meaning precedes
form, we also believe that when students find new words
they want to use, they more readily incorporate them into
their working vocabulary. All three domains should be
enlisted to help students find words that attract them. It
is important to think in the broadest terms in considering
texts. Books ranging from William Steig's and E. B.
White's rich children's literature to Stephen Jay Gould's
nonfiction to E. Annie Proulx's contemporary novel The
Shipping News are loaded depositories. Because poetry
336 _, CHAPTER 12
is semantically rich, new words are plentiful there, as they
are in any compressed language. You can urge your stu-
dents to read insurance policies, bonds, users' manuals,
and guarantees to see if this mundane world of print does
not also yield unexpected word dividends.
Text print is important, for it may imprint vocabulary
more deeply than the other two modes; but the other two
conduits are livelier sources for most students, so attach-
ment is strong when they, too, are used. To make acqui-
sition most available for your students, oral interaction is
essential. This can include the fascinating world of tele-
vision talk shows, where guests, hosts, and callers provide
a potpourri of language; but it is probably best that your
students glean vocabulary from talk with each other and
with people outside the classroom. The process of ac-
quiring new vocabulary is natural, but you can promote
the natural process by the opportunities you give stu-
dents to confront new and engaging language. The list of
people who can provide that enrichment is endless, but
four likely ones are elders, specialists, creators, and out-
siders. The best class formats are probably similar to
those presented in Chapter 4 and others that make sense
to you and engage your students with these people and
their language. Elders have a rare language by dint oftime
spent with it and a different set of experiences and cir-
cumstances. Even their special vocalization makes their
language memorable. Specialists obviously must speak
with some general, popular language terms; but their spe-
cialties as doctors, pilots, or electronic engineers make
new language ineVitable. Creators, with their inventive
styles, will likely use creative language; and outsiders such
as libertarians, the Amish, sports heroes, and other fasci-
nating people who don't conform make fine language
Television, film, and other modes in which words and
pictures are combined offer your students many occa-
sions to encounter new language. This is especially true
when the material is less narrative and more analytical.
Nova, 60 Minutes, Larry King Live, and many other
shows offer goldmines of new words. But film adapta-
tions of books also work well, as do the animated zany Dr.
Seuss stories, especially when they are faithful to the au-
thor's language.
This is a more abstract process; but you can move your
students to a consciousness of some of the core features
of the language around them, and they will then be more
sensitive to it, understand it, and adopt it. It is true that
many students do not do as well with parts as with
wholes; but if this approach were productive with no
more than 2S percent of your students, it would still be
worthwhile. The idea is to work with two primary tech-
niques and two basic elements to expand students' vo-
cabulary: roots and stems. If you give your students a
sense of words' antecedents in classical language, they are
given a key that unlocks many verbal treasure chests. For
instance, the root words pose, geo, scribe, and bio are ba-
sic language features that refer to the hard reality of the
nouns and verbs lead, earth, write, and life. If your stu-
dents can transpose what they can guess into clear and
useful knowledge, they take command of a sizable list of
words. It won't be sheer memory work. With this logical
root knowledge, as well as knowledge of stems, they can
begin a growing list of words. The stems are not central,
as are the roots, but they are the inflections or redirec-
tions of words, which, along with roots, create the se- .
mantic load of the word at hand. Prefixes and suffixes,
the two stem types,are almost never interchangeable. Un
derstanding the word interchangeable itself is a perfect
example of morphological knowledge, with its double
stem on either side of the root change.
Two primary techniques that are useful parts of this
analytical process are analogies and context clues. Stu-
dents unconsciously use these two techniques from birth
to soak up language; but they can be made explicit, like
the use of morphology, to further activate this process.
Students can be taught to use analogies and parallels to
guess what words mean. These can cut across cultures or
can reside in the same language. By the same token, stu-
dents can look at the context to predict what a word may
mean. Such prediction works increasingly well when stu-
dents see the same words in different contexts because
the contexts let them rule out some guesses and bolster
others. These techniques and their features of analysis
are bits of prior knowledge that your students possess
and that you can bring to consciousness to help them de
velop their vocabularies more effectively.
This is the simple technique of being dunked into a new
culture so that language is acquired and mastered as a
means of survival, of getting through the day. It is like the
acquisition strategy but with an added dose of con-
sciousness and even mastery to ensure that students
come into contact with words.
Word Dots. Tllis may be an approach that some of your
students have already developed on their own, but most
students need to be prompted. You merely ask your stu-
dents to keep a pocket dictionary with them at all times
so that they can place a dot in front of every new word
that they hear or see, whether it is on TV or in a book.
You can ask small groups to take a few minutes each
week to compare notes from their dictionaries or ask the
whole class for spectacular words that they've dotted
during the past seven days. You can ask them to make a
bimontWy checkup whereby they make a count of dots
over a specified ten dictionary pages to see which stu-
dent or group has the most collected.
t of
~ e
~ e s
i to
Class Webster. This is a delegated approach to word
collection in which you appoint or students elect a word
hawk from the class who keeps a list of all of the new
words that pop up in class or out of it. This is a commu-
nal approach in that it is a collective list, one that all stu-
dents contribute to and is the same for all students. The
advantage is that all or parts of the list can be used by stu-
dents as they write group stories or imaginary letters to
the editor, or make some other interesting use of the
word collection. The disadvantage is that it is not a list
made by individual students. A compromise that works
is to let groups of five or six appoint their own word
hawk to collect a slightly different set of words.
The semantic strategy is a potpourri of ideas tied together
by the basic notion that words represent meaning be-
yond themselves and that meaning is, after all, what is
most attractive about words. With this in mind, we pres-
ent in Figure 12-8 a sample of semantic descriptors that
generate and create consciousness about words. (See
Chapter 3 for more discussion of this idea.)
We believe that students who become engaged in look-
ing at language in these challenging and interesting ways
will, with your help, noticeably increase their vocabulary
and, more important, their interest in gleaning and using
new language in their everyday discourse. We believe that
each of the four strategies makes sense, but what makes
the most sense is the managed use of the entire set of
strategies. Eclecticism is not a fault when the strategies are
not mutually exclusive or contradictory but reinforcing.
Our profession has long debated the proper role of the
research paper in the English classroom, but you may
pause to ask the prior question: Should it have any place
at all? It requires careful research, in fact, to locate articles
in the EnglishJournal advocating traditional research pa-
pers. Many secondary English programs have either
dropped the requirement or turned all but the mechanics
over to other subject areas. For decades even its marginal
place in the English curriculum has been questioned by
those who argue that secondary "students are not
equipped to carry on meaningful literary research" and
that "reasonably correct and creative writing-the goal of
instruction in composition-cannot be developed by
teaching students to regurgitate the thoughts of others"
(Taylor, 1965, p. 126). Even more critically, Stevenson
(1972) sees these long papers as "a rite of passage" that is
in fact "an exercise in deception" because of the woeful
lack of emphasis on primary materials (p. 1030). We add
to this older critique the fear that made-to-order research
papers only line the pockets of e-business hucksters.
In spite of these ample hesitations, the research pa-
per's credentials as an instrument of instruction are de-
fensible if its essential shape rather than its superficial
form is kept in view. Its role in encouraging critical
thinking and the close examination of fact is compatible
with the instructional design of any English classroom.
Schroeder (1966) offers a slightly different approach, ar-
guing that the two defining components of the research
paper are "library research techniques and intellectual
investigation of a subject" (p' 898). He goes on to break
down the development of the necessary skills into a
1. Etymology:finding the origins of words and phrases (dope, stolemythunder, kitty-corner, and becoming)
Semantic awareness
2. Hobblede Hoy:creating multiple fanciful or realistic definitions of words that have dropped out of the
language since the 1933 edition of the OED (yamph, gumple-foisted, tic-polonga)
3. Doublespeak:listing examples of euphemistic pleasantries and obfuscating bureaucratic language and
discussing their intent as insidious or salutary (passedon, sorties, misspoke)
4. Jargon:exploring the language of special groups and its necessity or pretension (throughout, spin
doctor, burnout)
5. Limpids:investigating bland basal verbs and their loss of power, and offering helpful replacements (do,
have, eat, run)
6. Placenames:explaining the unusual names of towns, rivers, and other geographic entities (Paris,
Texas;Buffalo, NewYork;Mt. Rushmore)
7. Superchargers:examining hyperbolic journalistic language to replace it with neutral and opposing
language (rabble, crowd, throng)
8. Synontinuums:creating lists of almost-equivalent words that students put on their own continuums
9. Faces-hands-feet:acting out words with one of these three parts of the body for classmates to guess
(bellicose, anxiety.jealous)
10. Sianguage:noting language that has passed from unacceptable slang to public parlance (bounds,
snooze, narc)
11. Amphibonyms:locating words that are spelled the same but that shift from verbs to nouns when the
stress moves forward or the vowel lengthens (record, permit, bow, lives)
12. Technese:noticing language that has invaded our daily lives by way of the high-tech world (interface,
leverage, fax, deplane)
338 _ CHAPTER 12
four-year continuum: ninth-grade library skills, tenth-
grade paraphrasing and documentation, eleventh-grade
controlled research, and twelfth-grade topic restriction
and free research. Others have suggested an intensive
six-week period of instruction on the conventional re-
search paper to address matters such as limiting the
topic, taking an argumentative stance, and learning the
art of documentation. Some have suggested more un-
conventional research strategies such as audiocassettes
and mixed-media presentations as possible alternatives
to the traditional format. But are these manipulations of
the surface rather than suggestions for research papers
that differ at a more essential level? We suggest the fol-
lowing six models for the research paper that we believe
differ in kind and might be appropriate for secondary
English students.
Controlled Sources Research
This approach has been one of the most popular in Eng-
lish classrooms, for it allows the teacher to thoroughly
survey the source material and ensures that all students
come into contact with a wide range of usable materials.
The approach makes use of texts such as the Norton Crit-
ical Edition ofMoby-Dick, which contains raw historical
material (letters, analogues, sources, reviews, and criti-
cism), and more narrow casebooks such as the Merrill
text of "A Rose for Emily" and Macmillan's Huck Finn and
His Critics, which contain critical essays without the
other historical paraphernalia. Because these texts can be
expenSive, many teachers have turned to teacher-made
casebooks as an alternative. No matter which of these
you employ, your students will encounter the disadvan-
tage of failing to get involved in original research. On the
other hand, they will learn how to extract, evaluate, and
synthesize materials, which may be more essential re-
search components for secondary students to engage in
Textual Analysis
This approach offers students the opportunity to locate
and carefully examine a definable body of writing so as
to discern differentiations, comparisons, or progressions
within that corpus of material. Such examinations can
be performed on both literary material (for instance, a
short story collection such as Malamud's The Magic
Barrel, selected poetry of the Harlem Renaissance, or
the fiction of Redbook magaZine) and nonliterary mate-
rial (for instance, Franklin Roosevelt's inaugural ad-
dresses, four standard American dictionaries, George
Will's editorials, or Elton John's lyrics). The emphasis is
on primary materials and students' ability to assess
them. This analytical approach allows students' inter-
ests to be expressed in the research they select yet
makes it possible for students in all but the most isolated
locales to engage in the search part of research. The In-
ternet can diminish even that isolation.
Historical Synthesis
This approach demands an even more complete range of
source materials, but it allows students to uncover both
primary and secondary sources as a means of arriving at
an informed answer to a given question. Students might,
for example, be asked to investigate the details (who,
when, where, how, and why) of an isolatable event in his-
tory, such as the death of Hitler. They might be asked as
well to make use of varying kinds of sources and to be
come involved in evaluating the reliability of those
sources. Even when they work with a limited supply of
sources, students have the chance to be confronted by
the researcher's most essential tasks: locating, evaluating,
and synthesiZing material.
Contemporary Issues Research
This kind of research offers students even more topical
subject matter to investigate, but it also broadens the
scope of the research, thus decreasing teacher awareness
of the material under consideration and placing greater
demands on students in locating source material. Stu-
dents involved in research of this kind might be found
probing local problems such as zoning, child abuse, or al
location of funds by the school board. They use inter-
views, public records, questionnaires, Internet sites, and
other research tools to gather their data. Torsberg
(2000), Sharka (2000), and others report amazing success
stories when their students use the Internet to research
problems such as no-fault insurance, gun laws, or gender
discrimination in the workplace. Students are involved in
consulting governmental reports, current periodicals,
countless public documents, as well as other primary
source materials. Another important part of this process .
is students' groWing capacityto evaluate the various sites'
data. When assessment is rigorous, both the final product
and the analytical process are greatly improved. Both
conventional and electronic research consume much
time and energy, but the payoff in enthusiasm and under-
standing of the research process is sizable.
Scholarly Research
This approach offers an alternative for more advanced
students. It is the most traditional and earns the most
prestige in some settings because it seems to be the
purest, most original kind of quest. In imitation of schol-
arly research, it asks students to search for relationships,
connections, analogues, and influences in both nonliter-
ary and literary topics. Because this kind of research ac-
tivity demands a more comprehensive library and a
greater measure of sophistication than can be generally
11. TheIn-
wer both
rriving at
Is (who,
ld to be-
)f those
nted by
ms the
s, and
expected,some teachers save students'time andenergy
by offering them lists ofpossible productive investiga-
tions. Thisshort-circuitssomeoftheoriginalitybutalso
greatly reduces anxietyandfrustration. Atopicsuchas
the influence of Eugene Zamaitin's We on George Or-
well's 1984 offers solid potential and at the same time
Fabulous Analysis
Romano's(1995)Writing with Passion.' Life Stories, Mul-
tiple Genres createdthiscategoryifitdidnotalreadyex-
ist. His much-acclaimed multigenre research paper is a
kindof search-and-analysisprocessthatignitessecondary
studentswhennootherworkinthis areawill:"Its amal-
the cognitive benefits ofeach genre, and, most impor-
tantly, recognizes that there are many ways to see the
world" (Bencich, 1996, p. 92). Romano says that his
gotiation with his students:"The mUlti-genre research
andwriting"(p. 128). Hismethodis describedpainstak-
ingly in Writing with Passion, butit is basically a class
productioninwhichafictive character'sartifactsfrom a
wide range ofgenres (thus the name) are brought to-
gethertoflesh outthedetails ofthatlife. Afavorite gift
afragmentfrom a speechofa radical politician,a letter
and divorce papersfrom a first marriage are assembled,
bringtogetherakindofanalyticalbiography. Theenergy
generatedfrom bothimaginative andanalyticalthinking
andwritingmakesthisa powerfulwinner.
As a student teacher, Karen Haymes (1988,personal
communication) developed an extended writing-and-
researchprojectforfive smallgroupsofsixorsevenstu-
dents. Each group developed the life story ofa fictive
characterwhogrewupintheircityyearsearlier. Thebi-
ographical research included materials from five major
ments, and aging reflection. Like Romano's students,
Haymes'swereaskedtobuildthe storyaroundartifacts
from theircharacter'slife. Thefinale wasnotsomucha
paper,althoughtherewasone,butakindof dramaticpro-
ductionthat centeredona table thatfeatured all ofthe
Brunwin's (1985) workwith class-developed histori-
novel. His studentsfollow thetrail ofanincidentthat
occurrednearlyone hundredyears ago. He showshis
students how to seek details from their city's or re-
paperbutahistoricalnovel. Livelyandcrediblestories
of goldmining, extortion, and illegal ventures by off-
shoreislandpirateshaveresultedfrom suchclassproj-
ects and the research and analysis that the project
Cameron(1994) suggestsa numberofeffectiveways
motewriting. Onethatcouldbeadaptedforimaginative
but careful research involves concepts about the hero
drawn from Joseph Campbell's (1988) The Power of
Myth. Studentsbeginbylistingfavorite superheroesand
1. Giveshisorherlifetosomethingbiggerthanoneself,to
2. Performsacourageousacteitherphysicalorspiritual.
3. Feels there's something lacking orsomething has been
4. Embarksonaseriesofadventurestorecoverwhatislost
5. Movesfromconventionalsafetytoundertakethejourney.
6. Undergoestrialsandtestsofcourage,knowledge,andthe
7. Achievessatisfaction.
8. Journeys from a departure, to fulfIllment, and return.
(AdaptedfromCameron,1994,p. 92)
Usingthisauthoritativelistof heroicqualities,students
selectasetof sixsuperheroesandanalyzethem. Afterre-
searching each superhero's words,thoughts,deeds,and
the wonders attributed to him orher, students can de-
velop a careful analysis using all ofthe rigorous para-
phernaliaofa bonafide researchpaper.
butnonealleviatesthedreadedburdenof writingthepa-
peritself. Asyouconsiderthisreality,youmaydecideto
use an alternative. Ask your students to create a chart
act the basic research ingredients oflocating data and
synthesizingittodevelop a thesis. Thebasic categories
of information(who,when,where,how,andwhy)maybe
terialsthatprovideinformationineachcategory. Thedis-
tosmallgroupsandcreatinga synthesis. Thefindingsof
inferencesdevelopedbyeachofthegroups. Witha few
historical events and artifacts to produce a historical gether,agroupofstudentsmaydiscovermoreaboutthe
340 _ CHAPTER 12
nature of research than many others do in days of writing
and hours of teacher time evaluating long papers. This is
an alternative worth considering.
Winterowd (1981) argues,and research supports him, that
we can help students expand their consciousness of what
he calls the full rhetorical context. A distillation of the six
elements that he identifies (pp. 66-69) as being funda-
mental to rhetoric is presented in the box below.
Each of the elements is important to writing, and their
complex union brings the writer to new levels of Writing
maturity. We use a game, rhetorical topology (Figure
12-9), so that students can experience the effect of Win-
terowd's powerful scheme without having to remember
the intricacies of his textbook definitions. Notice also
that the medium, or form, of the composition departs
from the usual rhetorical forms of school writing.
Topology Procedures
Students in a typical classroom are divided into groups of
six. Each member of the group is assigned an element and
rolls a die to select one of the six choices within each el-
ement. For instance, if the first student (WHO) rolls a four,
the persona is an inventor; if the second (WHAT) rolls a
five, the topic is popcorn. This continues until all group
members have explicit rhetorical defmitions. Individual
group members write using the fated full rhetorical con
text of their group within a set amount of time, read their
papers to other members of the small group, respond, and
even select one or two to read to the whole class.
If the writing assignment seems too difficult with all
six elements, begin with three or four of them. The items
in the matrix can easily be tailored to the ability level of
the students you teach. Both abstract and concrete items
can be used as they are here, or a different matrix also
can be composed by students. A matrix of literary char-
acters, settings, titles, authors, and periods generates in
terest, imagination, and energy. The topology encourages
the free and expansive play of the mind with the litera
ture. For instance, personas for a writing assignment af
ter a unit study of modern American drama might
indude Amanda Wingfield, Laura Wingfield, Willy L0-
man, Stanley Kowalski, Emily Gibbs, and the Stage Man
ager. The possibilities for audience after a unit on Greek
and Roman myths and legends might be Zeus, Aphrodite,
Hercules, Theseus, the Medusa, and Atalanta. Students
become collaborators in the creative enterprise of litera
ture as they extend these characters imaginatively.
Tchudi, Estrem, and Hanlon (1997) used the idea of ro-
tating facets of writing to help students gain conscious-
ness of them. Changing an essay to a letter, totally .
reshaping an introduction, switching points of view, and
shifting dialogue were all used to give students better
control of these significant dimensions of a piece ofwrit-
ing. A film instructor at North Carolina's Governor's
School (Larsen, 2001) used a similar topology composed
of themes, genres, styles, characters, and techniques to
prompt students to engage the full power of these fea-
tures in producing films. The parallel is exact, and the re-
sults were especially mature.
Becky Brown (1999, personal communication) used
rhetorical topology but substituted fixed, though provoca- .
tive, writing configurations. One of her best evoked the
response shown in Figure 12-10. Common to these sug-
gestions is our sense that the rhetorical topology rein-
forces the complexity of writing and inspires both
creative expansion of texts and creative iteration of other
concepts under study.
Element Interrogative Definition
Persona Who? The voice the reader hears from the page.
Topic What? The subject of the piece.
Medium Where? The form through which the writing is achieved.
Purpose Why? The author's intention in writing.
Tone How? The flavor of the piece.
Audience Whom? Those who will read or listen to the piece.
Persona Topic Medium Purpose Tone Audience
Congressman Frogs Bumper sticker Election Sarcasm Senior citizens
Accident victim Nepotism Radio spot Conversion Precision Ministerial association
Murderer's mother Global warming Public letter Excuse Pity Little League managers
Inventor Elevators Editorial Congratulations Elation Veterans
No.1 draftee Popcorn Poem Praise Pride Chamber of commerce
Retiring miner Ambition Mediation Compromise Chastisement Beloved uncle
FIGURE 12-9 Milners' rhetorical topology



FIGURE 12-10
Brown's literary
wardly. Portfoliosofwritingactivitiesovera quarterora
semestershouldbekepttomeasuregrowth inconscious-
ness ofthe five elementsotherthan topic. Studentscan
A personfromanoutsidegroup(ortheteacher)canlook
atthepaperandtryto locatewhichofthechoicesunder
each element was selected by the roll of the die. At a more
oftheconfiguration.If all arelocated,ablewritinghasbe-
gun.In aknownconfiguration,eachoftheelementsmight
beratedonafour-pointscale (excellent,good,fair,weak)
Reflection 12-3 givesyouanopportunitytoevaluatethe
Announcer: In thiscorner, the legendaryCeltic hero andworld champion King Arthur.And in this corner, thechal-
lengingherofrom thewildwastes ofScandinavia, Beowulf! Gentlemen, thefightis withoutarmorandtothedeath
Arthur:You're nothin! man!The IntercontinentalBeltis mine, man;I'vegotall the Knightsofthe RoundTable onmy
side, andallyou'vegotisthatlittlepunk,Wiglat.
Beowulf:Yeah, justsendinyourknightstofightforyouthewayyoualwaysdo.You neverevengotoffyourbutttofind
theHolyGrail;youjustsentyourknightsouttodoit! Itdidn'tmatterwhen Iwasking, man! Istillwentouttofight.
Arthur:Yeah, wellifyou'resuchabighero, howcomeyou neverhadawoman?
Beowulf: What?!Allyou even hadwasGwynevere, whowassleepin'aroundanyway!You're dead!
Wiglaf: Comeonyou punkCatholicking.You ain'tnothin'man! I'm rightwitcha, Beowulf.
Arthur: That'sit, man! Lancelot, Palomides,Tristram, getinthereandshowhimwhatthe RoundTable boyzcan do.
(Beowulftrashesallthreeoftheknights, andhetossesthem outofthe ring.)
Beowulf: (pointing)All right, man, IwantYOU!
Arthur: (He runsin andputs BeowulfintheCranium Crunch.) Rightmakesmight, you punkScandinavian!
Wiglaf: I'mrightbyya, Beowulf!(WiglaftakesArthurdowninafigure-fourleglockandbreaksArthur's legs.)
Beowulf: Thisrightmakesmight, dude!(BeowulfdeliversarightcrossthatcrunchesArthur's mandible.)
Announcer: It'sover, baby!Arthurhastriedtolethisknightsdotheworkasusual.ButBeowulfcomesoutontopbe-
cause whereas Arthurleads by claim to kingship, Beowulf leads by example. Beowulfisthe strongerwarrior and
leaderofmen!That'sit,folks, I'mouttahere.
Arthur, and
To entertain

.,)' '. u .",.
1. Whathas been thetypical emphasis in Englishwriting
assignments thatyou had in highschool andcollege?
(Circleall thatapply.)
e. tone
a. topic c. persona
b. purpose d. medium f. audience
2. AfterreadingWinterowd'stheoryand ourapplication,
whichofthesixelementsinthefull rhetorical context
seem toyou importantenoughto include inmaking
3. Whichone(s) seem notimportantenough toarticulate
andassign toyour students?
4. Nowfill inthefollowingmatrixas afinal writingproj-
ectin acomparativestudyoftwoliteraryworksortwo
literaryperiods. State yourgeneralsubjectandfill in
the thirty-sixblanks intheboxbelow.
Rhetorical Topology
Persona Topic Medium Purpose Tone Audience
Her procedure for teaching an understanding of im-
agery in The Red Badge of Courage demonstrates her
method (p. 24):
Objective: Students learn to question a repeated im-
age for patterns and emerging meanings.
Procedure: Students trace a particular image through
a novel. They work in groups to validate and extend'
their fmdings. They analyze and report to the class
the significance of patterns. They repeat the process
independently using a new image.
Evaluate: Students discuss an image not covered by
class work in a final essay.
Andrasick also shows us how she prompts students to
plunge deeply into a discussion of the main character's .
expectations. She begins with a quote from critic R. w:
Stallman (1976):"Everything goes awry; nothing turns out
as Henry had expected" (p. 201). She asks her students to
"identify and defme Henry's expectations about war, him-
self and his behavior and briefly detail how they go awry"
(Andrasick, 1990, p. 26). She lets them think, search, and
write for twenty minutes. She then asks them to read
their lists, which she uses to forge a discussion. In that ex-
change, she participates only by asking for clarification
and prompting students to make connections; at the
same time, she creates a graphic representation of their
points to use later.
Andrasick uses two process writing strategies to deepen
insights for writing about literature: dialogue journals,
and process logs. The dialogue journal is a double-entry
journal in which students first enter jottings, excerpts,
and brief summaries of the text on the left page of their
journals and on the opposite page respond with their in-
terpretation and feelings about them. The second step is
rereading their entries and writing on another page as
many questions as they can generate about their re-
sponses. They use the other side of the second page to
group questions, answer them, and locate areas of central
importance for general inquiry. Students use the ques-
tions in a general class discussion and then elaborate a
central question for their personal investigation and use
all of their journal entries to compose their responses.
Andrasick uses process logs to help students "iden-
tify the analytical strategies they use with particular
texts" (p. 59). The process log helps students explore a
poem by asking them to respond to questions such as
the follOWing:
What did you understand,feel, think after your first reading?
What questions did you have?
What words/phrases were confusing?
What words/phrases seemed to have particular importance?
As you read the poem a second time, marking it, what in-
sights did you have?
What areas are still confusing to you?
What meanings do you feel the poem is expressing? (p. 60)
Writing about literature is the most venerable yet pos-
sibly the most contemporary writing strategy in the
field. It was the staple of secondary English classrooms
until the early 1970s. Literature was what students
wrote about then. Applebee (1993) notes that "Histor-
ically the relationship between writing instruction and
literature has always been a close one" (p. 155). His re-
search shows that a decade ago 73.8 percent of writing
in public schools was about literature (p. 161) and that
75.2 percent of English teachers reported that writing
about literature was their primary approach to compo-
sition (p. 167). More recently, states such as California
have returned to literature as the focal point of an inte-
grated curriculum in which all of the modes of dis-
course are unified. States such as North Carolina have
Applebee (1993) praises Kathleen Andrasick for
showing us how to use process writing to teach litera-
ture (p. 1). Newkirk calls her book Opening Texts
(1990) "a conservative book" yet an "innovative book"
(p. xii) because it retains the rigor of the "critical tradi-
tion" and the personal response of the journating ap-
proach. Andrasick shows us how to urge students to
turn their initial exploratory responses into elaborated
pieces of analysis that have none of the formulaic
emptiness of five-paragraph themes. Andrasick ex-
plains ways to help students "change and/or enlarge the
angle of vision" to become "critical reader[s]" who are
"able to distance self from text" without killing the ini-
tial personal contact with it (p. 5). She shows us how
to help students "recognize and value their personal
connections and initial readings" through students'
writing and talking (p. 6). Mter this initial contact and
exploration, she nudges students toward imitating,
transforming, and acquiring texts so that they become
adept at the following tasks:
342 _ CHAPTER 12
enjoying literature on levels beyond simple com-
prehension of narrative line
exploring literature for questions and insights inter-
esting to them
composing meanings from texts
knowing how they understand literature
expanding the ways in which they compose mean-
ings from texts
making connections between and among texts
learning to trust their responses and critical
Andrasick regards the different ways in which students
read and annotate texts as a prelude to true collaboration,
where the crucial mental event is "abandonment of a po-
sition we hold" (p. 22).
R. W.
IS out

f read


, als,
age as
eir re-
age to
orate a
ends the section on
districts, and
Writing about literature has been animportant part of
the English curriculum for a long, long time. Writing
about good writing makes sense because students are
providedwithrichlyfabricated events to interpretand
analyze. But writing that imaginatively extends a text
also works extremelywellas a waytoenergizestudent
writing. The concept ofdependent authors, in which
teachers ask students to addvignettes to a novel,short
story,play, oreven poem,coupledwith Murray's belief
She emphasizes thatsheis asking herstudentsto de-
scribe how they read and understand as well as what
they read and understand. She
process logs byreminding us that"we are notteaching
that these twoformats"showus howwecan teach stu-
dents touselanguage todistance themselvesfrom their
perceptions,feeling andthoughtsabouta text"andthus
producefresh insightsandstrongwriting(p.67).
Even though some teachers, school
dominant place in writing it once held. Teachers and
students now have many other genres to explore. But
literature's usefulness as a vehicle forwriting andwrit-
ing's usefulness as a vehicle for response to literature
Roles Around
We beginthiswritingactivitybylookingintoanarrative
form used byFaulkner,Childress,and othertwentieth-
century writers: the multiple first-person monologue.
The teacher starts with a quick drawing activity that
demonstrates the concept of relativity, the scientific
foundationoftheseworksoffiction. Astudentassumes
anunusualpostureinthecenterofthe roomwhilethe
crayon markings on newsprint paper to capture their
perspectives ofthe figure before them. After a quick
theleft one spaceandviewthefigure's representation
sitionsuntiltheyreturntotheirstartingposition. Then
As I LayDying,whichdescribes Addie'scoffinasa"cu-
bistic bug." Acubistpicturevisuallycaptureswhatthe
verbaldescribes. Abriefdiscussionfollowsaroundthe
question"How do multiperspective drawings, the pas-
areentertained,studentsreadaloudthefirst paragraph
tersinChildress'sAHero Ain't Nothin'but aSandwich.
When all eleven ofthese voices have been heard, the
dadworks on two-week-out-of-town shifts,so he
lives alone with his mother, Ann. Last week he
had a run-in with his science teacheraboutdan-
gerous behavior in the lab. That turned into a
pended from school by Dave Gratton, the assis-
tantprincipal. Threedayslaterhecametoschool
at the end ofthe day andwalked up to Gratton,
who was standing at a bus door, and shot him.
right shoulder,buthe fell to the ground looking
prettydead. Ronnie tookabout three stepsback
from the bus, pointed the gun at his head, and
pulled the trigger. When nothing happened,the
Ronnie heardthat,hetookanothertwostepsto-
ward them,putthe gun to his head again,fired,
andfell tothegrounddead.
After students have absorbed this sad story, they are
askedtolookoverthefollowing listofnamesofpeople
who knew Ronnie Morse and write a monologue from
Mr. Teeder(principal) PiggieMorrison(bestfriend)
Ann Morse(mother) ReverendBly(Morses'
Blake Morse(father) minister)
jillNicholls(girlfriend) jelk jimson(cousin)
DaveGratton(assist. TomWise(superintendent)
principal) MelindaJumps
RichardGreene(bus (cheerleader)
driver) Ray Toms(Ronnie'sboss)
ArtisGilson(science NormaNelson(school
teacher) nurse)
JimNicholls(Jill'sfather) RonPhife(sheriff'sdeputy)
Because studentsbecomefully aware ofthe uniqueness
ofthesuicide,theywriteremarkablemonologues. Figure
12-11 presents two such monologues that we've col-
lected. We clipped this story from ourlocal paper and
elaborateduponit. Anystrikingstoryfromyourlocalpa-
344 _ CHAPTER 12
FIGURE 12-11
RonnieMorseis nothing buttrouble. Ifeel sorryforhim. Hehasgottenin withthewrongcrowd. He isabusiveto
theteachers hereatourschool; he comestoclass high, and justlastFriday heopenlythreatened me. He said
he'd kill me. Iwasa bit worried but nottoomuch. Igetthreateneda lot.You see, the principal and Idecidedthe
onlydisciplinaryactionleftwastoexpelRonnie.Wehavetriedmanydifferentpunishmentssuchas in-schooland
out-of-schoolsuspension,reports, etc.Nothingworks.As theassistantprincipal,itismydutytoadministerthese
variouspunishments.Agreatjob, huh? Iknowthe kiddoesn'tlikeme, buthey, heain'texactlymyfavoriteperson
either.Sowekickedhimoutandgoodriddance.Hewasabadapple.Todayis Monday,andthedayhasbeenfairly
calm, Iam onbus dutyandam gettingontosomeboyswhoarehorse playing.It is thenthatIfeelaterriblepain
shootthrough my shoulderandhearashot simultaneously. I've been shot. Ihearlaughter, sick laughter, and I
anothershotandthen Iloseconsciousness.
" alldayswerelikeyesterday, Iwouldhavetoretirefromprincipalship.Aterribletragedyoccurredthatcouldhave
easily been prevented by communication and self-control. I have tried my best tobe a good principal-tobe
objective, fair, but followthrough withmy decisions. Myassistant principal wasshottoday.Yes, shot! Theyoung
manwhofiredthegunthenturneditonhimself,thegunfailedtofireatfirst, anddespitethepleadingofhisfriends,
hetriedagain ...andthistimesucceededin takinghisown life.
His motherwas in my office, discussinghissuspension with me atthetime of his death.Hewas suspended
from English for insubordination andthen cursing at the teacher and other students in the classroom.We had
cometoadecisionpertainingtotheworkhewould miss.Ithinkhecouldhavegraduatedon timeifhehadstuck
itout.Why?Why? Howcouldhetakehis life?Hewasnotatotallybadkid.Hehadfriends andfamilywholoved
professionalcounselorswill be on campustomorrow.
Other Dependencies
Cameron (994) prompts his students to allow super-
heroes to enter a work of fiction in the same way the fairy
godmother enters the life of Cinderella. (His examples
are taken from the fictive world ofJay Gatsby and the real
world of Malcolm X.) Walker (1997) borrows from au-
thentic assessment's basic axiom that school writing
must look like writing in the real world to connect with
the ideas in Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" and those of
other essayists. As town planners or members of citizens'
groups, students carefully construct a plan or proposal
that puts Thoreau's and Emerson's ideas into play. Walker's
five requirements, presented in Figure 12-12, are exact
and demanding; yet they allow students to extend the au-
thors' ideas into a real-world context.
Dixon (984) used two samples of student writing in
response to the powerful antiwar poem "Dulce et Deco-
rum Est" by Wilfred Owen to demonstrate the effective-
ness of dependent authorship. Anearnest and sensitive
student produced only a faltering essay about the terror
of the gas attack for the individual soldier or the univer-
sal sickness of war, while a similar student wrote a poignant
and deeply sensitive narrative that captured both. When he
presented the two writing pieces to a group of Michigan
teachers, the narrative was so much more compelling
that some concluded that they would try dependent au-
thors a good part of the time; others said that they would
sometimes allow students a choice of the two forms; and
still others said that they would consider using depend-
ent authors as a step toward better expository writing,
Many professional writers attribute their writing abilities
to cutting their composing teeth on the works of the mas-
ters; as aspiring writers, they painstakingly copied the
masters' work until something of their genius seeped
through. Formerly, classic models were basic to instruc-
tion in rhetoric. Although textbooks often continue this
approach through collecting model essays, the method
has lost credibility in today's classrooms. For some teach-
FIGURE 12-12
1. Describetheproblem in atleastfifty words,includingwhytheyfeel itis significant.
2. Proposeaspecificsolutiontothe problem in onetothree sentences.
3. Listthreeprintand/orhumanresourcesthatwouldgiveuseful informationfordesigningand implementing
the plan, explainingWhy eachwould behelpful.
4. Listincompletestatementsatleastfivespecificstepsthey wouldtaketoimplementthe plan in theorderthe
tasksshouldbe accomplished.
5. Writean explanationofatleastonehundredwordstotellhowEmersonand/orThoreauwouldviewtheir
proposedplan, basingtheirexplanationon whatthey knowabouttranscendentalismfromthereadings and
nd I
ers, however, the rationale remains: Writers learn their
craft bystriving to meet standards set byreading good
models. In The Anxiety of Influence, Bloom (1973) ar-
in the lives ofgreat writers. Annie Dillard agrees:"the
writerstudiesliterature....heiscarefulof whathereads
forthatiswhathewillwrite." Someofthatsameprocess
canbeuseful for all writers,notjustthosewhowantto
makewritingtheircraft. Inthe realms ofstyle andcon-
thatkeeptheirforward motionfrom faltering. More im-
portant, modeling can help students evolve their own
originalvoices. We presentfour stepsthatcanbetaken
in this apprenticeship. Each step is more difficult and
takes moreeffortandindependencethanthepreceding
one. The individual imagination must be kept alive at
eachstageortheprocesswillsinkinto tedious,stupefy-
Whenchildrenhearparentsread abedtime storyover
and over,theyseemalmost able to read itthemselves.
They have so absorbed the tale that its rhythms and
sounds become embedded in their memories. Re-
searcherstell us that children learn much about read-
ing from this repetition. Secondary students might
learn much about writing with just such attention to
as you teach the same works over time that certain
lines, phrases, and words insinuate themselves into
your thoughts and speech. Harold Bloom, in a televi-
sion interview,spoke ofhis poetryseminars that cen-
teredonstudents'fond recitationofpartsorall ofthe
poemstheystudied.) Thefollowingexercisescallfora
close attention to key words, phrases, and sentences
andaheightenedrepetitionofthem. Thepurposeisto
that language. They first reproduce the original and
thenimpose theirowninterpretation,verbalorvisual,
Little Snippets. Each student selects prized phrases
board,and surrounds the words with related visual im-
ages. Thesecollagescanbepresentedtotheclassvisually
as students recite the snippets from memory or from
carefullyrehearsedreading. Theemphasishereisonthe
words. The visual imagery and spokenwords together
Write Out and Draw In. Students combine art with
writinginthisexercise. Theyeachchooseandtranscribe
a personallymeaningfulpoemorproseextract.We find
reading ofliterature. We are asking studentsto connect
tothewordsoftheartist. Notallstudentsfeelartistically
lection ofthe accompanying artwork,thepowerofthe
processissecure.Figure12-13isanexampleof onesuch
personal connection between the imaginations oftwo
former students,Cary Clifford andBenjaminMilner,and
Paraphrasing moves ina newdirection. We are trying to
helpstudents believe in themselves as writers,as people
withsomethingtosaytoothers.We knowthatweall have
bodyhasastorytotell.Unfortunately, notall ofour students
believethis.Manyof themhavelittlefaithinthemselvesas
communicators. 1\voexercisesfollow thatinvite original
writing byproviding a preformed structure. The teacher
ing. Ourexamplesare takenfrom poetry,butotherforms
can work as well: aphorisms, famous passages from
Translation. Translation prompts students to rewrite
poetryin their own words. The process may seem re-
ductive,butstudents whohave little self-confidence of-
tencreatewrittenprosestatementsthatare penetrating
andsatisfyingtothemselves. Aftereachstudentdevelops
aworkingparaphraseof apoem, groupsofthreestudents
read their translations to one another, comparing their
prose with the poem's original meaning and with its
greatereconomyof words.
Official Plagiarism. Suchparaphrasing cantake place
afterstudentshavedevelopedafeelfortheuseof another
class and restate or reorder it in their ownwords. Stu-
ownnames, withtheoriginalpoet'snameandthepoem's
paraphrasingauthors,classmembersmightread thepo-
ems closely and identify the sources ofthe newtitles.)
This appropriation leads students to trust themselves a
bit more. Theycan trustthe original author'sstructure
In these two instances ofparaphrasing,writing mas-
ters have become whatJohn-Steiner (1987,p. 37) calls
"distantteachers."Paraphrase is notdone in theold,re-
ductiveattemptto pinionliteratureintoasimpledeclar-
ative statement. Rather, it is used to help students see
how the stylist carefully shapes meaning with special
346 CHAPTER 12
cussed using single poems or fixed poetic forms as tem-
plates from which students can develop their own poems.
The Creature. 1bis template encourages students to use
their eyes to write well. The enabling structure that re-
Building Conceits. This model develops a piece of
writing around one powerful comparison, as the poet
Karl Shapiro does in "Manhole Covers." Lines such as
"Mayan calendar stones" and "like medals struck by a
great Kahn" make us transform the everyday object into a
larger-than-life artifact from an exotic world. Students can
use this model to build poems of their own from a con-
ceit. Rather than just telling them to come up with a com-
parison, you can give them a method for coining such
metaphoric constructions. We ask students to think of a
mundane object such as a hammer or a slide and then list
attributes such as shape, size, use, color, and material; from
that list, they try to shape an extended conceit.
Modeling (Employing a Template)
Rationalists, wearing square hats,
Think in square rooms,
Looking at the floor,
Looking at the ceiling.
They confine themselves
To right-angled triangles.
If they tried rhomboids,
Cones, waving lines, ellipses - - -
As, for example, the ellipse of the half-moon - - -
Rationalists would wear sombreros.
Wallace Stevens
FIGURE 12-13
Copying (duplicating exact
Source: Poem from COLLECTED
POEMS by Wallace Stevens.
Copyright 1923 and renewed 1951 by
Wallace Stevens. Reprinted by
permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
arrangements of words and to release students to trust
their own voices to carry their own insights.
Modeling evokes student writing while allowing students
to borrow form and pattern from master word crafters.
All elementary teachers make use of this in some fashion,
but the process can be equally successful for secondary
students. Brooks (1973), in her essay "Mimesis: Grammar
and the Echoing Voice," proposes carefully composed ex-
ercises that encourage her students to fmd their own
unique styles and to learn specific grammatical points by
using what she calls "persona paraphrase." She asks stu-
dents to give conscious attention to the professional
writer's medium and to use that writer's words to discover
their own voice and style. She uses established writers to
free young writers to the possibilities of writing for their
own purposes. In a similar effort, in Chapter 6 we dis-
ce of
ch as
by a
into a
leases this poetic writing is a nature study. Students visit a
zoo or an aquarium or merely set out to watch a creature in
nature closely: a dimpled spider, a bUZzing fly, a beetle
trapped in a bathtub, a harmless snake in the grass, or a
twitching wren. Students watch this creature carefully and
record as would a naturalist its attributes, actions, col-
ors, habits, and dwelling. Then they use the template
(Figure 12-14) to slot in the features they like best and add
the personal or metaphorical connections made possible
by their choices for the poem. Although the template is
fairly tight and may seem to constrain the autonomy and
creativity of writers, most students experience a good feel-
ing when their animal springs to life and takes on a signifi-
cance that did not previously seem inherent in the creature.
Imitating (Mimicking the Masters)
This final stage of styliZing cuts the student free from
copying, paraphrasing, and using models. They remain
on a leash of sorts, but a long one. We ask them to make
their own decisions in mimicking a master. They need
both a sensitive consciousness of another's style and the
ability to play with an imitation. The following three ex-
ercises demonstrate this method.
Public Parody. In this initial activity, students write and
tape-record the verbal style of a well-known public fig-
ure. These recordings are played; and students are asked
to note their impressions of the voice and syntax, the vo-
to guess each caricature. From the exaggeration of these
extreme characterizations, students can turn to more seri-
ous imitations of childhood favorites such as William Steig,
Dr. Seuss, and Maurice Sendak. These writers are suppos-
edly Simpler and, more important, are removed from stu-
dents' present reading menu. To capture Sendak in an
unpublished chapter of Where the Wild Things Are takes
great effort but teaches much about the writer's craft.
Emulate Masters. Ask students to read, reread, and lis-
ten on tape to writers such as C. S. Lewis,John Updike,
Alice Walker, Eudora Welty, and E. B. White to soak up
their styles. Choosing from a diverse stylistic range will
proVide appeal to a wide array of students. Those who
can absorb this work deeply can begin to note authors'
tricks and slowly appropriate them in their own writing.
We must never forget that we are trying to invite stu-
dents into genuine literary activity-writing comfort-
ably and frequently for their own purposes and reading
confidently and frequently from the vast array of written
texts. Modeling masters was once the primary means of
teaching rhetoric. We have come to understand the im-
portance of many other modes, but we can still profit
from acquainting our students with the successful craft
of others and with validating an apprenticeship to
them. The success of any apprenticeship is in its releas-
ing the learner from imitation to independent craft.

cabulary and the rhythm. Students then determine which {I. V to Rell.. (:t iOn ..,,,,1 'l A.
aspect is nearer the defining center of that person's pub-
lic utterances.
Literary Caricatures. From this pure parody, students
may move to caricaturing literary figures whom they have
studied and whose styles are distinctive, such as Edgar Al-
lan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Ernest Hemingway, Langston
Hughes, or William Faulkner. These written pieces might
be exaggerated so as to emphasize characteristic styles.
They are half-fun and half-serious. Other students can try
.;.... ......... \;.. ,.-. ,:,' ..\\.
Have you ever yourself experienced writing instruction by
copying, paraphrasing, modeling, or imitating? These four
instructional modes are arranged on a continuum from most
model-dependent to least model-dependent. Write under
each category titles, authors, or passages that you believe
have distinctive styles worthy of imitation.
Copying Paraphrasing Modeling Imitating
FIGURE 12-14
The creature
__ and _
creature action
Its _
color attribute action
Never does the _ _ disappoint' us!
Its , its _ , its astonish' us.
attribute attribute
We behold it and the our imaginations.
Aye, it is the of our collective souls.
1. Enter your creature, its actions, attributes, associations, and color in the spaces indicated.
2. Each of the words marked with an asterisk may be replaced by a better one of your choice.
348 _ CHAPTER 12
Style is elusive and, as we pointed out earlier, very difficult
to teach. We believe books on style do exist that are
worth looking at; their good ideas can help your students
work at this goal. Copying texts is how many of the finest
writers began. Some writers, such as Abraham Lincoln,
who were limited to the few books they could find, may
have developed into master stylists because they repeat-
edly read exceptionally crafted texts such as the Bible. We
believe, however, that exposure to a number of fine writ-
ers and excellent texts that explain the secrets of the craft
of writing is the best way to help writers develop mature
and idiosyncratic styles.
Three Style Books
Williams's (1990) Style: Toward Clarity and Grace is the
complex work of a thoughtful linguist. His thinking is as
comprehensive as any in this limited but important field.
He says that he wants to go beyond the mere "high-mind-
edness" about style that is typical of standard works; he ar-
gues that his book "explains how to achieve those ends"
(p. ix). Williams deals carefully with seven central fea-
tures of style: clarity, cohesion, emphasis, concision,
length, elegance, and usage. He offers some examples of
bad writing (too many prepositions; complex, unfamiliar
concepts at the beginning of sentences; and confusing
use of negative verbs), explains their negative impact, and
shows how to correct them. He speaks insightfully about
metaphors. He shows how they can add elegance and
power to writing but how, if ineptly posed, they can con-
fuse a reader and undermine the writer's intent. In his us-
age chapter, he sanctions the split infinitive and clarifies
the use of shall and will, showing how turning to will,
though it may be unconventional, adds the force of intent
to writing. His book is full of instruction for more clarity
and grace in everyday writing.
Romano's (1995) Writing with Passion is famous for
its chapter "The Multi-Genre Research Paper," but we are
also fond of his chapter "Breaking the Rules with Style."
In that chapter he (like Williams) teaches writers to in-
tentionally break the conventions of writing as a way to
establish a style and a voice that are both noticeable and
attractive. He honors unmentionables such as fragments
and extended, involuted sentences. The brash brevity of
the fragments and the droll, desultory nature of the ex-
tended sentences break the rules of length at either ex-
treme. Robust and witty writers like Mark Twain and H. L.
Mencken use unsanctioned breVity to great effect. Other
stylists use repeated phrases or even seemingly redun-
dant passages to capture their readers. Romano tells us,
too, how to build a recognizable voice with labyrinthine
catalogs, spelling aberrations, double discordant voices,
and verbal collages. He uses the glories and peculiarities
of literature to demonstrate the way in which stylists Vi-
olate the norm in beautiful and clever ways to entrap
the reader. In Writing with Passion, learning new ways
to encourage bolder style in student writing becomes
a treat.
Collette andJohnson's (1993) Common Ground is not
as familiar as are the other two. It is not the work of a lin-
guist or an English educator; however, it is rich with detail
and stout with insight. It is replete with thorough expla-
nations and apt demonstrations. The opening chapter ap-
propriately is titled "Reaching the Reader:' Details,
analogies, and anecdotes are some of the authors' hooks.
In discussing anecdotes, they show the need for a balance
of uniqueness and typicality; bright ideas such as these are
commonsensical yet fresh. Collette and Johnson discuss
Howard Nemerov's essay"On Metaphor," which offers the
jewel "if you want to see the invisible world, look at the
visible one" (p. 18). They show us how to exercise our
metaphoric powers by making a passage "metaphorically
richer by working on the verbs" (p. 22). They show writ-
ers how to search for metaphors to explain, not express, a
feeling or emotion to someone else. Their other chapters
pore over such specific matters as fmding a common
ground via humor, setting, and special perspectives. It be-
comes clear that comic wordsmiths such as Woody Allen,
Stephen Wright, and Dave Barry must have learned such
lessons somewhere to achieve their delightful way of get-
ting us to move into their worlds. The authors further
show writers, in the chapter titled "Movement," how to
achieve focus or energy, how to make "paths," and how to
"move through the whole." In a higWy stylistic chapter ti-
tled "Discourse," they, like Romano, show us how to go
about "changing the rules" (p. 140) and then move on to
finely articulated chapters titled "Roles and Relations" and
"Voice, World and Authority." In the latter, they show how
cadence in prose can be recognized and then developed
(pp. 224-234) and how to mix and shift voices
(pp. 241-248). All of this is done with economy, straight
talk, and verve. It is not a methods book, but it is full of
methodology. It is worth any teacher's time. One thing
more: Although it may be seen as a creative writing
primer, the lessons on style are not confined by genre or
discourse mode but are transferred across all.
Phillips (1997) adds a nice touch about style-more
specifically, voice. She discovered through her ethno-
graphic study of a young African American female that
poetry allows her to fmd a voice because it prOVides the
comfort of a natural rhythm that gives her the confidence
that allows her to write about her life. Stetson (1996) be-
lieves that assigned topics, prescribed structures, and for-
mulated steps in writing snuff out the student voice and
replace it with a cool, unembodied institutional voice.
Style is, as we said, difficult to teach; but we can at least

l the
: our

Appendix H.In the course ofour careers, we have treasured
onour desksbeforewefoundanotheranddrewfromit.For
someyears, weopenedDonaldHall's(1973)primerforstu-
dentsWriting Well forquicknourishment;laterweturned
to Murray's (1985)A Writer Teaches Writing, Second Edi-
tion. Intermittentlythroughall theseyearsoneofus kept
thethinthirdeditionofStrunkandWhite's(1979)The Ele-
ments of Style bythebedforreadingpleasure. E. B. White
graduated andhadbecomea fine professional stylist him-
self, he found it contained"rich deposits ofgold" (p. xi).
Strunk and White have fallenout offavor with some English
educators,partlybecauseofthevirtuesWhitefound: "Pro-
grammar phrased as direct orders....[l1hese rules and
principles are in the form ofsharp commands, Sergeant
voice:(Rule 14)'Omitneedlesswords:(Rule 17)...Each
ruleorprincipleisfollowed byashorthortatoryessay,...
followedby...examples" (pp.xii-xiii). WetreasureThe El-
ements of Style forsimilar reasons, "itssharpadvice,...the
audacityandself-confidenceofitsauthor"(p.xiv). Evenin-
We hopeyouwillfind yourownvaluedwritingbooks. A
wealth of material isavailable forbuilding writing; and when
Summary of Research About Writing
In Chapter 11 we looked at five major approaches to
writingandsuggesteda structureforbringingtheseap-
rayofinstructionalstrategiesthatfulfill criticalneedsin
writing. Thesearenotweddedtoa singleideologybut
are affirmed in current research and best practice. It
a close look at the environment inwhich it is taught.
Consider classrooms you have seen and the one you
flection 12-5.
Consider classrooms you have seen and the ones you hope
to create for effective writing instruction. An ethnographer
attempting to record the dynamics of such a class might use
the chart (Figure 12-15) as a checklist of its artifacts,
arrangements, and behaviors. For your real and/or imagiJed
classroom, rate what you consider to be the importance of
each item for effective learning.
We closethischapterwithfive summaryreportsthat
give us a general sense ofwhatis presentlyconsidered
bestpracticeinwriting. TheresearchofHillocksandhis
giesaswedescribedinChapter3. Theyfoundthatgram-
andthatfree writingwasonlyslightlymore effective as
aninstructionalstrategy. Theuseofmodelswasmoreef-
fective butwas notas powerfulwhenused exclusively.
Sentencecombiningwasveryeffective, twiceasusefulas
thefree-writing approach. Generally,Hillocksfoundthat
mosteffective. Attitudeandgoodfeelingwerenecessary,
Zemelman,Daniels,and Hyde's (1993) Best Practice:
New Standardsfor Teaching and Learning inAmerican
Schools presentseightessentialpracticesinwriting:
Teachers must help studentsfmd real purposes to
Effective writing programs involve the complete
Grammar and mechanics are best learned in the
Studentsneedreal audiencesanda classroomcon-
We believethatthegeneralapproacheswepresentedin
Chapter11 and inthischapterembodythese standards
andthespecificstrategieswill helpyoumeetorexceed
mentofEducation's(1986)What works andtheNational
CommissiononTeachingand America'sFuture's(1996)
What Matters Most-both report that the writing
process is the essential ingredientfor effective writing.
Successcomeswhenteachers develop a sequencethat
includes prewriting, writing, and revising. The reports
also notethatwhenwritingprogramsextendacrossthe
The National Assessment of Educational Progress
(NAEP) publishes highly respected and influential re-
search findings.
The goals and achievement levels for
'When the National Assessment ofEducational Progress received fed-
eralfunding,itmoveditsoperationfrom Boulder,Colorado toWashing-
ton,DCandwasrenamedtheNational AssessmentGoverningBoard.
350 _, CHAPTER 12
FIGURE 12-15
Writing ethnography

::J 0-
c.. (J)
3. 3.

Students talking about writing successes with classmates
Students writing to accomplish tasks outside school
Students writing collaboratively
Teachers reading their writing to students
Teachers writing alongside student writers
Students working on various stages of writing
Teachers conferencing with students about writing
Students reading their writing to small groups
Teachers moving about all areas of the classroom
Adult writers visiting class
Students using various writing instruments
Walls displaying student work
High-quality texts posted around room
Challenging vocabulary displayed around room
Word walls displaying essential words
Environment integrating all areas of the curriculum
Models featuring emphasized writing skills
Movable chairs and tables
Interactive seating arrangements
Variety of media accessible to students
Open book shelves, magazine racks
Accessible computers
Up-to-date, student-friendly software
writing published in the NAEP's Writing Framework
and Specialization: 1998 are worth comparing with
to see whetherwe are speaking to those national stan-
dards. TheNAEP'sfivegoalsareterriblybroad:
Studentsshouldwritefrom avarietyofstimulus materi-
als andwithinvarioustimeconstraints.
forms expressedintheirwriting.
tionoftheirwriting. Theyshouldincludedetail to illus-
trateandelaboratetheirideas,and use appropriate con-
ventionsofwrittenEnglish. (p. 27)
The NAEP's writing achievements (basic,proficient,ad-
thusgive usa goodsenseofthemarkthatourstudents
mustachieve. ThesearepresentedinFigure 12-16.
charges. Nowheredoesthedualsenseofteachingas art
andcraftseemmorepertinent.In thecourseof thesetwo
, ad-
These achievementlevelsare proposed forfirstdrafts,
within limitedtime constraints in alarge-scaleassess-
ment environment.
Demonstrate appropriate response to the task in
form, content, and language.
Respond appropriatelytothe task.
Demonstrate sufficientcommand of spelling, gram-
mar, punctuation,andcapitalizationtocommunicate
tothe reader.
Students performing at the proficient level should be
Create an effective response to the task in form,
content, and language.
Expressanalytical, critical, and/orcreativethinking.
Demonstrate an awareness of the purpose and in-
tended audience.
Have logical and observable organization appropri-
Showeffectiveuse of transitional elements.
central idea.
Uselanguage(e.g., varietyofwordchoiceandsen-
tence structure) appropriatetothe task.
Have few errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation,
Students performing at the advanced level should be
Create an effective and elaborated response tothe
taskin form, content, and language.
Expressanalytical, critical, and/orcreativethinking.
Have well-crafted, cohesive organization appropri-
atetothe task.
Show sophisticated use oftransitional elements.
Usevaried and elaboratedsupportingdetails in ap-
propriate, extended response.
Begin todevelopapersonal styleorvoice.
Demonstrate precise andvaried useoflanguage.
Useavarietyofstrategiessuchasanalogies, illustra-
tions, examples,anecdotes, and figurative language.
Enhancemeaningthroughcontrolofspelling, gram-
mar, punctuation, and capitalization.
FIGURE 12-16 NAEP's writingachievements
These achievement levels are proposed for first drafts,
not final or polished student writing, that are generated
within limited time constraints in a large-scale assess-
Studentsperformingat the basic level should be ableto:
Demonstrate appropriate response to the task in form,
content, and language.
Demonstrate reflection and insightandevidenceof an-
alytical, critical, orevaluativethinking.
Use supportingdetails.
Revealdeveloping personal styleorvoice.
Demonstratesufficientcommand ofspelling, grammar,
punctuation, and capitalization to communicate to the
Students performing at the proficient level should be
Create an effective response to the task in form, con-
tent, and language.
Demonstrate reflection and insightand evidenceofan-
alytical,critical, orevaluativethinking.
Use convincing elaboration and developmentto clarify
and enhancethecentral idea.
Have logical and observable organization appropriate
Showeffective use oftransitional elements.
Reveal personal styleorvoice.
Use language appropriate to the task and intended
Havefew errorsin spelling, grammar, punctuation, and
Createan effectiveandelaboratedresponsetothetask
in form, content, and language.
Show maturityand sophistication in analytical, critical,
the task.
Showsophisticated useoftransitional elements.
Use illustrativeand varied supportivedetails.
Use rich, compelling language.
Showevidenceofapersonal styleorvoice.
Displayavarietyof strategies such as anecdotes, rep-
etition and literary devices to support and develop
punctuation, and capitalization.
352 _ CHAPTER 12
strategies around which you can begin to practice the
craft. We hope, too, that you have felt some connection
with the art that is also necessary for teaching writing.
Dawn Potter (2002, personal communication), our
copyeditor and a very fme writer and teacher herself, re-
minds us of a fundamental aspect of writing and, we
suggest, of teaching writing: "the willingness to let the
observation-the lived life-leave its mark. We cannot
write unless we are first open to experience." Poet and
memoirist Kathleen Norris (1996) embodies this will-
ingness as she struggled to write a personal narrative
"that seemed too personal, too painful to ever see the
light of day. Sitting with my notes around me, gazing at a
blank computer screen, I tried to forget that a deadline
loomed, and I was still spending hours just sitting and
brooding, letting the thing work itself out inside me"
(p. 351). Just as your students may be stuck before their
writing project, you may find yourself also paralyzed be-
fore the year's curriculum design or your next day's les-
son plans. I think Potter's and Norris's advice to you
would be to remain with the struggle, keenly open to
your experience and your students', acutely aware of
the wealth of advice available about teaching writing-
perhaps even writing in your journal about your quandary
or listing wise suggestions or possible lessons-but also
confident that plans are forming within you out of this
active openness and tension. Potter sent us the words of
novelist Graham Greene (1951/1999), who captures this
moment for the writer and, we believe, for the writing
So much in writing depends on the superficiality of one's
days. One may be preoccupied with shopping and income
tax returns and chance conversations, but the stream of the
unconscious continues to flow undisturbed, solving prob-
lems, planning ahead: one sits down sterile and dispirited at
the desk, and suddenly the words come as though from the
air: the situations that seemed blocked in a hopeless impasse
move forward: the work has been done while one slept or
shopped or talked with friends." (pp. 19-20)
Teacher Bill Stifler provides a fitting close for the
chapter as he muses on the art and craft of teaching
On Writing
I've tried to think what I could tell you,
about the way words feel, the sound
they make when they touch, the way
words fight you, fall flat, clattering
like pans to a kitchen floor or the slap
of a tire limping, only you know all
this, and I wonder if there's anything
I could tell you, or tell myself,
because words make their own way,
play by their own rules, and all we do,
if we're lucky, is find them.
Bill Stifter