Give your Students an Authentic Audience: The "Write the World" Contest Series

When I was seventeen, I had to write about something that mattered to me for a class assignment.

Growing up in Duluth, I was never far from Lake Superior. I drove up to my high school as the sun rose over the water, and drove home trying to simultaneously watch the road and stare at the moonlit path on the water. I rollerbladed on the boardwalk every day over the summer, and swam with my friends after ultimate frisbee whenever I could. When I was sad, I went to the beach. When I was happy, I went to the beach.

So that's why I wrote about what the lake meant to me. "A Presence in the Waves," I called my essay.

My Honors British Literature teacher (amazing superwoman that she is) and I worked on it for a month, through three revisions.

Why do I remember all this so well? I can't tell you much about any other paper I wrote in high school. Can't even remember the topic of a single one, even though it was my favorite subject. (Obviously).

I remember because I was so excited to enter my essay in the local Rotary Essay Competition. Oh the honor, the glory, the golden bars! I could only imagine how incredible it would feel to WIN THE LOCAL ROTARY ESSAY COMPETITION! (I heard you chortle to yourself, just now. Take my teenage-self seriously, puh-lease!).

And guess what? I won.

Now I'm not just telling this story to toot my own horn. Though I'm sure you're very impressed. I'm telling it because writing contests can be such a compelling way to suck your writers into the beautiful slipstream of caring about their writing. An authentic audience, the lure of fame and fortune, there's just something about it.


055: Hyperdocs, Authentic Audience, and Screencastify with Kristy Louden

Today on the podcast I'm interviewing Kristy, of Louden Clear in Education, about three of her favorite creative teaching strategies. 

Together we're diving into hyperdocs, a public speaking project (that you can try out at your school this year, and I hope you do!) involving the perfect authentic audience, and ways for using Screencastify to save you time and make your hard work more effective. I think you're going to love what Kristy has to share. 

You can listen below, or on iTunesBlubrry, or Stitcher. Or read on for the written highlights.


What to do when a Student says "I hate reading!"

You know the old English teacher saying, "You don't hate reading, you just haven't found the right book yet!"?

Well, it's true.

But for kids who hate reading, it doesn't solve the problem. They have no reason to WANT to find the right book. Because as they have just mentioned, they hate reading. They're not exactly combing the shelves for good options, building "maybe" lists on Goodreads, and checking in with their parents for the latest and greatest from Audible.

I know you know this. I know I'm preaching to the choir.

It's hard to reach these students sometimes, because they have tried to close their doors to reading. But that's just because they haven't gotten the help they need to find the right book yet.

Now, however, they have you. A teacher who cares so much about them that they're using their free time to peruse the blogosphere for ideas to hook them on reading. To show them the world of books they are sadly missing. And you, my friend, have come to the right place.


Give Students Voice with Real-World Argument Writing

It can be hard for students to understand the point of writing papers. Almost as hard as it is for you to hold their hands through the process time after time when they haven't bought in.

"ANOTHER paper?" they cry when you roll out the new assignment, "WHYYYYYYYY?????!!!" 

You'd think by their moans and groans you'd just told your three-year-old she can't have the double-decker banana split.  

Practicing argument writing can get old fast for students. But repetition helps so much in getting them to understand how to write literary analysis, which you know is a skill they really need.
So what are you supposed to do?

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