Every once in a while, someone writes something that I wish I had written. In this case, it’s a piece by Peg Tyre in The Atlantic about how the teachers at New Dorp High School changed their writing instruction and have seen dramatic improvements in student writing. As anyone who has read the Common Core Standards knows, we need to focus more attention on building arguments with evidence. This essay on New Dorp gives some particulars about how they’re doing that (with the support of educator Judith Hochman).
Here’s the link:
One caveat: My only critique is that the writer somewhat mischaracterizes the views of two writing instructors I admire, Kelly Gallagher and Lucy Calkins, wrapping their quotes in a veil of insinuation and overgeneralization, in this paragraph:
Some writing experts caution that championing expository and analytic writing at the expense of creative expression is shortsighted. “The secret weapon of our economy is that we foster creativity,” says Kelly Gallagher, a high-school writing teacher who has written several books on adolescent literacy. And formulaic instruction will cause some students to tune out, cautions Lucy Calkins, a professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College. While she welcomes a bigger dose of expository writing in schools, she says lockstep instruction won’t accelerate learning. “Kids need to see their work reach other readers … They need to have choices in the questions they write about, and a way to find their voice.”
Otherwise, the piece provides a helpful window into New Dorp’s effective practices.
PS–You can find the kinds of recipes they mention on The Literacy Cookbook, of course.
PPS—Thanks to my mom for sending me the lead on this piece!