Welcome to Writing Teacher – a website developed to organize resources, lesson plans and discussion about teaching writing on the secondary level. This site was created as a final project for the MA in Writing Studies at Kean University. It is intended for high school teachers, particularly those working in urban areas or with students who are disengaged with the standard writing assignments.
The idea for this website came after watching a
from a North Korean teacher who found that her students’ difficulty in generating original thesis statements came from a totalitarian system where people were taught exactly what to think all the time. I thought about my own students in northern New Jersey, far from North Korea, but still unable to generate original thesis statements. In many urban schools, control comes from a large number of inflexible rules. Students are rarely given the freedom to make their own decisions in the school building, so when they are given the assignment to be creative in their writing, they often come up blank. “What do you want me to say, Miss?” is a common question.
Added to the problem of a rigid structure, standardized tests have become the benchmark to measure students’ worthiness to graduate and teachers’ ability to teach. The stakes are high, and the degree of difficulty is much higher than with previous assignments. How do we teachers simultaneously get our students prepared for the test and still give them space to open their minds and learn to make their own meanings from all the information that surrounds around them.