Why Another Writing Curriculum?
I get it. Writing Curriculum all seems to have been done before, but has it?
I have looked through curriculum after curriculum claiming to prepare students for college writing. However, the curriculum is filled with text after text of comprehension questions that, in all honesty, are a waste of time. Comprehension questions, once students are in high school, teach students ZERO skills that are useful in college. Professors in college will never ask students to answer comprehension questions, and students will not remember how those questions were formed in order to use them.
Why are we still giving students comprehension questions then?
Maybe teachers think that it’s a good assessment to find out if the student actually read the text. Maybe they think that it will teach them something. I’m honestly not sure. Most likely, it is just something “we’ve always done.”
Even requiring students to write a summary of the text should begin to dwindle at about 9th grade. EVEN if they are lower-skilled readers. Yes, I said it. Even lower-skilled readers should stop doing summaries when they begin high school.
Why should the students not do summaries and comprehension questions, you may ask?
In my experience teaching some of the lowest skilled readers: including English as a Second Language students and students with learning disabilities, ALL students can learn to pull quotes from the text, respond to them and decipher what the author is doing… all when taught how to do it.
These useful skills are learned regardless of reading comprehension. And I may add that by teaching these skills, students may actually improve in their reading comprehension skills because they will know better how to read the text at a deeper level and therefore learn how to interpret what the author is doing. These two skills are both what they require to be successful in college.
So REALLY, why should I give this curriculum a chance?
- I don’t waste any time on activities that won’t directly prepare students directly for college.
- This curriculum is specifically to teach students how to write the way their college professors will expect them to.
- If a student does not test into English 100, they will have to take 1-3 semesters of remedial English. As you can imagine, this is extremely frustrating for them and can stop them from wanting to continue.
- This curriculum is written in layman’s terms. Anyone could follow the directions and apply the skills. In the initial stages of learning this writing process, the student must follow the steps in order. After they build their skills, they can begin to adapt the program to fit their personality and style.
You might be thinking, can’t I teach it to them or isn’t this what they are leaning in school?
It should be what they are already learning, but it isn’t.
Many English teachers inspire writing and deep discussion but when it comes to teaching students HOW to write, it can be an extremely frustrating and impossible process. I think of it like this, many experts who are naturally good at something do not understand not knowing how to do it. English teachers know how to write. They know how to analyze literature and write essays and since they know it, it feels obvious to them. It feels like, “How do they not get it?”
I, on the other hand, did not get it for a long time. It was not natural for me. I’ve always been a reader and a bit of a writer, but the analyzing literature process was really difficult for me to get. I went through this process of figuring it out to the benefit of students that I teach. I admit to them that it is hard. I admit that sometimes you want to quit. But I also know that when they do get it, it will be amazing for everyone in the room. And when 1 person gets it, it becomes contagious.
Teaching students reading strategies that they need in order to pull information from a text is not easy to teach.
How many teachers or curriculum have you seen that actually teach students how to analyze a text for the author’s claim, author’s purpose, their intended audience and their relationship with the audience?
Not only that. How often do you find a curriculum that is designed specifically to teach students the strategies college writers use to write detailed but concise thesis statements and how to use quotes from the text to back up those claims? Well, these are the things that college students must learn to even enter college-level English 100 classes.
The focus of this curriculum is to teach strategies that can be applied to any text or genre. This is why although I use example texts in my workshops, I do not provide them within my curriculum.
The depth of detail college professors ask students to read texts is more in depth than ever before, and it is a different way of thinking than we realize.
I went through college thinking that I knew how to write, but realized my senior year that I was greatly mistaken. Something had changed in the expectations for college writers without me being made aware. The teachers immediately made the switch from being okay with literary analysis papers (analyzing style and themes) to requiring ONLY rhetorical analysis papers.
I didn’t even know what that was and maybe you don’t either.
They used terms like Rhetorical Precis, Rhetorical Analysis, Ethos, Pathos, and Logos, and I was like, “What?!?”
Now students are not allowed to enter college level English without an understanding of these concepts.
In this writing curriculum, I break down the steps of writing evidence based essays, by teaching students how to build a strong and concise thesis using proof from the text, how to look through the text at the author, and more. This is done with students in mind. I think about what they might be confused about, what they will struggle completing, and teach them strategies to overcome their challenges.
I want all students to be successful. I want them all to go to college with confidence that they know what to do when they are asked to do a literary analysis essay, rhetorical analysis essay, rhetorical precis, or research paper. They will know how to do these while their classmates might be confused. They will be set apart and have the skills to succeed.
Check out Thrive Write’s Guide to Writing a Literary Analysis Paper.