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Writing Teacher's Block


California Teacher Guy discusses the problems he is having in teaching writing to his students. The materials he received at a PD institute, he says, haven't helped:

I don’t write the way they want students to write. I just write, just let the words flow, and then I arrange and rearrange and cut and paste and hack and chop until the resulting product is pleasing to read. I can’t tell you how I do it, I just do it—and it works.
But all that crap about brainstorming and prewriting and outlining and whatever else they tell you to do? I don’t know how to teach kids to do that stuff. Besides, I work with a bunch of kids who really don’t give a damn about words, except spoken words. Writing is the farthest thing from their minds. How the hell am I going to get them hooked on writing? I’m at a loss. I feel incompetent.

Find yourself in the same struggle? Other teachers have flocked in with some useful advice.


I understand your frustration about all of the steps that we are now teaching the kids to do for writing, but I feel that taking the time to show the kids these steps will help them be better writers. I don't think the real issue is that the kids don't want to do the steps, it is just a new process and new way to teach them to write in a broken down format. Even if your students take a couple of suggestions you make about preplanning, it is more than they did previously right?
Hang in there!

I had the same problem. The fact is that we do all these things, but we do them quickly, mentally, and we don't label them. It's the labeling process that holds us up. What I did with my students, both kids and military adults, was use tape recorders and have them talk their projects out to each other, then transcribe. I also let them ask certain questions, starting with the typical newspaper "who, what, when, where, how, and why." AFTER they got some sentences down, they were able to organize, cut and paste like I do. You might try it, and label after the fact. Good luck!

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