Friday, January 19, 2018

"Throwaway Writing"

My older group (ages 13 and 14) is working on their essay writing. We are primarily using Gretchen Bernabei's book Reviving the Essay: How to Teach Structure without Formula.

Most recently, we've been doing Lesson 5: "The Insight Garden: Growing Opinions from Art, Literature, and Life." We used the timed, guided writing exercise with several visual prompts and truisms:

    "When you fall in love, you're willing to look more foolish than at any other time in your life."

    "Every family has its heroes."

Her book is full of examples of visual prompts and truisms; there is also a collection of 89 of her visual prompts & truisms available free as a PDF.

The Insight Garden has five components and can be taught as a timed, guided writing or as a kernal essay.

    An insight about life

    One illustration from literature

    One illustration from a movie

    An illustration from my life

    I wonder

Currently, the students are working at home on definition essays. The topic is Leadership, where they explain their own individual definitions of Leadership and provide personal examples. Although I introduced this assignment on Monday, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. day was celebrated, students do not have to only choose figures from the Civil Rights Movement.

We had Writer's Workshop sessions yesterday where students got feedback from their peers, using our new Six Dimensions of Effective Writing Rubric from Creating Writers Through 6-Trait Writing Assessment and Instruction. The six traits are Ideas, Organization, Voice, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, and Conventions.

Today we used Gretchen Bernabei's Lesson 29: "Throwaway Writing." Gretchen says on page 152, "Writing teachers can easily name sentences or phrases that are clearly throwaway writing. This exercise provides a lighthearted way for students to play with how not to write an essay, by loading it down with throwaway writing. And afterward, students will be able to identify throwaway writing and prevent it, too."

My students loved what they wrote and wanted me to share it with you. Enjoy!

    Hello, Grandma.

    I am calling you for three reasons. My three reasons are very important. The first reason is that I called you. My second reason is my three reasons. My third reason is because of the date. In this phone call I will tell you about my past, present, and forseeable future. Then I will tell you what my feelings were during the past, present, and forseeable future. Then I will ask you about your past, present, and forseeable future. After you tell me that, I will ask you what your feelings were about your past, present, and forseeable future.

    Bye, Grandma. It was fun talking to you. I will call you again in the forseeable future.

    In this essay I will tell you everything about this essay. This is my introduction to my essay. Now my introduction is done. Time for the topic.

    This is the topic of my essay. I feel very strongly about this topic and believe it should be taken more seriously. Now my topic is done. Time for the ending.

    I hope you enjoyed my essay on this extremely important topic that no one talks about. This was my essay. I hope you enjoyed my essay and what I told you and am telling you in my essay. I hope you enjoyed my essay.

    This is an advertisement for a product everyone needs in their home. This product is wonderful because many people use it. That makes it good. In addition, it is something that many people prefer to own. First I will tell you three good things about the product. Then I will tell you that many people like it. In conclusion, you should buy this product. Thank you for your time and attention to this very important matter.

    Jo - Hello, 911?

    911 (Paul) - Yes, hello, what is it?

    Jo - I need to tell you about what just happened.

    Jo - First, I will tell you what I'm doing right now.

    Jo - Then, why I'm calling.

    911 (Paul) - Sir, I need to know...

    Jo - Then I'm going to tell you why it is so important that I called.

    Jo - Then, finally, I'll tell you the emergency.

    911 (Paul) - PLEASE JUST...

    Jo - Okay, bye.

    911 (Paul) - Must have been Jo.

    This is the introduction. This paragraph will introduce my essay. This is where I tell you my main idea. This is why this topic is interesting. This is my thesis statement. This is a question that will be answered later. This is the end of the introduction.

    This is my first real paragraph. Do you remember my topic? Here is my main point and I will back it up with this, this, and this. This is how I will prove my point. This is a similar point but is somehow different. This is my final point. This is the end of my first paragraph.

    This is my second paragraph. How do you like it so far? Here is my main point. This is a sentence containing the answer to why I believe in this topic. Ths is another sentence that contains a sub point. This is another subpoint. This is my last point. This is the end of my second paragraph.

    This is my third paragraph. Do you get my topic by now? Here is my last main point. This is how it relates to my main topic in three ways. This is the first sub point about how interesting my topic is. This is another subpoint. This is my last subpoint about how interesting my topic is. This is a cool fact that you probably already know. This is the end of my third paragraph and of the actual essay.

    This is the conclusion. In conclusion I will restate my topic and my thesis statement. This is a question that won't probably get you thinking. This is the end of the conclusion. This is the end of the essay.

This post contains affiliate links to the materials I actually use for homeschooling. I hope you find them helpful. Thank you for your support!

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