Writing about writing—by the Write Source staff

Dave Kemper has been a Contributing Partner with Write Source since 1986. He has co-authored the complete line of Write Source handbooks and writing texts. In addition to his editorial work, Dave has presented at national writing conventions and has conducted writing workshops across the country. His latest project is writing weekly blog entries for UpWrite Press, Write Source’s sibling company, in which he explores a variety of business-writing topics. Prior to his work with Write Source, Dave taught literature and writing for eleven years.

Don’t Forget the Heartbeat

Near the end of The Yankee Years by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci, Joe Torre and Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman discuss the use of statistics in building a team. Since the annual publication of resources such as The Bill James Handbook, which provides past season statistics and next-year projections, baseball teams, more and more, are being built by the numbers. Bill James currently advises the Boston Red Sox, who have won two world championships during the last six years, so Cashman’s interest is understandable. Torre has not held the same view. (more…)

Ken Macrorie: Teacher and Truth Teller

The closest I came to a life-changing teacher is someone I knew only through his writing. The name of this teacher is Ken Macrorie, and his books Uptaught, Writing to be Read, Telling Writing, and The I-Search Paper are some of my favorites. What he says in these texts has changed the way I think about writing and learning. Here are a few of the things that I’ve learned from him: (more…)

Better Late Than Never: A Review of Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark

I have come across many books about writing in my work because I write about writing myself. Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writing by Roy Peter Clark (Little, Brown, 2006) deserves special mention for two reasons: (1) It contains so much quality information and (2) it is so well written. (more…)

Warning: Early Elementary Teachers Need Help

In one episode of Boston Legal (season three), Candice Bergen defends a young first grade teacher who is accused of gross negligence because one of her students dies after a severe reaction to something he ate. In her closing argument, Bergen lists all of this teacher’s responsibilities and challenges, to emphasize that too much is expected of her. The jury is so moved by Bergen’s speech that they find the teacher not guilty of any crime. That’s life on a popular sitcom/drama. (more…)

A No-Frills Charter School and More

Recently I came across the following bits of information that any teacher-type should find interesting. (more…)

All Hail to the King

King Arne made a visit to Milwaukee recently, and at one point during his visit, he toured Bay View High School, a large public high school just south of the downtown area. The photograph in the newspaper showed the king marching down a hall with his minions following close behind. (more…)

Misplaced Obsession

This blog entry addresses a certain type of teacher, usually found in elementary schools, whose behavior startles and/or disturbs me. These teachers are fixated on order and getting things done—as soon as possible. They have their lesson plans completed months ahead of time and make copies of worksheets months in advance as well. Near the end of the school year, they are already getting ready for the next year with their fall lesson plans and copies of worksheets to go with them. (more…)

Forget the Formulas . . . At Least Some of the Time

Isn’t it ironic that we asked students to develop argumentative essays, problem-solution essays, and literary analyses because we believe they promote higher levels of thinking? When, in fact, by making these assignments, we may be doing just the opposite. (more…)

Time Bound

“The value of life lies not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them.”

—Michel de Montaigne

My wife has taught first and second grade for many years, and she is about as dedicated as they come. Each evening after we eat, she heads into her office to prepare for the next day. She’ll first pull out her lesson book to see what she has tentatively scheduled for the next day. She sits there, totally focused and probably thinking: Will these plans still work? Are the kids ready for this material, or do they need more review? She will do this for math, science, and/or social studies. I don’t know how long this all takes her, but it is awfully quiet in her office for a long time. (more…)

Assessment Ennui

As you know, standards and assessment (you can’t have one without the other) has become the most important subject in education today. Reports and articles cover the subject from all angles: If one report tells us that testing improves classroom performance, another one will tell us that it makes little difference. If still another report tells us real improvement starts with rigorous national standards, one more will say “Prove it.” I’m not sure what to think—and I’m beginning not to care. I’m clearly suffering from assessment ennui. (more…)