Monday, April 16, 2012

Teaching Students How to Write

Question: What are two methods for teaching students how to write?

Answer/Quote: “Nystrand (1990) suggests another way to support students’ development as writers, that is, by heightening their awareness of the experiences of other writers. We can do this by sharing with them experiences of practicing writers and by modeling for them our own composing processes.” P. 553.

Comment: Put quotes by writers about how they write on the classroom bulletin board. Many books exist about writers and how they write, The Paris Review Interviews, for example. Here are some quotes from writers about writing:

“I don’t think writer’s block is anything more than a loss of confidence.” William Maxwell in Plimpton, ed., The Writer’s Chapbook.

“Good writing has an aliveness that keeps the reader reading from one paragraph to the next.” Zinsser, On Writing Well.

“Clutter is the disease of American writing…. A society strangling on unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon.” Zinsser, On Writing Well.

“Our national tendency is to inflate and thereby sound important.” Zinsser, On Writing Well.

“Unity is the anchor of good writing.” Zinsser, On Writing Well.

“Short paragraphs put air around what you write and make it look inviting, whereas one long chunk of type can discourage the reader from even starting to read.” Zinsser, On Writing Well.

“One thing I found out early in the game was that there was no way I could simply walk up to that room after breakfast, think of something to write about and then just spit it out in four or five hours…. …had to settle on an idea a week or so in advance and let it stew for a while.” Browning, Notes from Turtle Creek.

“So many people have talked out to me books they would otherwise have written; once you have talked, the act of communication has been made.” Angus Wilson. Cowley, ed., Writers at Work.

“I have collected enough rejection slips for my short stories to paper four or five good-sized rooms. Ann Petry. Hull, ed., The Writer’s Book.

“It is…important not to let the vigilant censor within freeze everything…that sudden stoppage due to the lack of the right word.” Jacques Barzun. Hull, ed., The Writer’s Book.

“Dictated sentences tend to be pompous sloppy and redundant.” Zinsser, On Writing Well.

“The reader is a person with an attention span of about twenty seconds…assailed on every side by forces for his time by newspapers and magazines, by television and radio and stereo, by his wife and children and pets, by his house and yard and all the gadgets that he has bought to keep them spruce, and by that most potent of competitors, sleep. Zinsser, On Writing Well.

“You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again.” Hemingway. Plimpton, ed., The Writer’s Chapbook.

“Spencer…defined writing style as that which requires the least effort of understanding.” Will Duran. The Story of Philosophy. Herbert Spencer.

Another valuable source for quotes about writing is the magazine The Writer. RayS.

Title: “Changing Perspectives in Writing Instruction.” N. Farnan, D Lapp, and J Flood. Journal of Reading (April 1992),550-556.

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