Category: From the Web

Our Friends in the News

By Lorie Lech, August 18, 2010 8:57 PM

Hey all!  I know its been sooooo busy and we have kind of lost touch, but I wanted to give a BIG shout out to Kim V. and Casey G!!!!  Their school was highlighted in the news today for positive things going on in their building!  Awesome to see good things in the news about schools!!!!!  Congrats ladies!

To see the full story, go to the link below:

Photo Prompts on

By Lorie Lech, July 8, 2010 11:52 AM

Looking for some photos to inspire writing? Go to this link for several really intriguing photos!

What Makes a Great Teacher?

By Tom Johnson, January 30, 2010 10:16 AM

Atlantic Online has a long article on teaching in the D.C. schools:

This tale of two boys, and of the millions of kids just like them, embodies the most stunning finding to come out of education research in the past decade: more than any other variable in education—more than schools or curriculum—teachers matter. Put concretely, if Mr. Taylor’s student continued to learn at the same level for a few more years, his test scores would be no different from those of his more affluent peers in Northwest D.C. And if these two boys were to keep their respective teachers for three years, their lives would likely diverge forever. By high school, the compounded effects of the strong teacher—or the weak one—would become too great.

Parents have always worried about where to send their children to school; but the school, statistically speaking, does not matter as much as which adult stands in front of their children. Teacher quality tends to vary more within schools—even supposedly good schools—than among schools.

It’s a very interesting article.

How to Blog

By Tom Johnson, January 27, 2010 3:36 PM

Getting it down to this kind of formula is impressive, and very funny.

Jargon: One Enemy of Good Writing

By Tom Johnson, January 12, 2010 8:20 AM

This article is about jargon in the workplace, but highlights the confusing aspects of insider-only language:

Business people use jargon, thinking they’re showing off their intelligence or trying to win respect from their peers, even if it doesn’t work that way, said Michael Sebastian, a Web editor at Ragan Communications, a Chicago-based publishing and training company. Others turn to jargon to avoid offending people or appearing politically incorrect, said Chelsea Hardaway, the co-author of “Why Business People Speak Like Idiots.”

There are, of course, few fields more given to jargon than education. If you want your writing to reach a broader audience than just teachers, you need to excise jargon from your writing the way you’d swat cockroaches on a kitchen counter: with horror-fueled determination.

Check out this super cool idea

By Jenna, October 29, 2009 5:09 PM

November is national novel writing month! Who knew? After sharing this site with my students this morning, I got super excited. I have several kids who are interested and I think we are going to pursue it. Our current plan is to meet once a week during lunch and recess to share what we have and how we are doing on our goal. Even if you are not interested in participating, check out the teacher’s lounge section. They have some great lesson plans and the work book they have created i is full of awesome writing tools.
Wish us luck!

National Day on Writing: October 20

By Tom Johnson, October 13, 2009 11:26 AM

Medieval_writing_deskU.S. Senate Resolution 310 declares October 20 to be the National Day on Writing. Among the whereases included in the resolution are these:

… people in the 21st century are writing more than ever before for personal, professional, and civic purposes…the social nature of writing invites people of every age, profession, and walk of life to create meaning through composing…more and more people in every occupation deem writing as essential and influential in their work…writers continue to learn how to write for different purposes, audiences, and occasions throughout their lifetimes…

On October 20, the National Gallery of Writing will be unveiled. The gallery is a searchable collection of all kinds of writing from all kinds of people. Schools can set up their own sub-sites within the gallery to feature student writing.

Writing More Than Ever

By Tom Johnson, September 21, 2009 1:43 PM

Andrea Lunsford, Director of the Writing and Rhetoric program at Stanford University (click here, scroll down), contends that technology is making writing more prevalent than it’s ever been before:

I think we’re in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven’t seen since Greek civilization.

Lunsford said this after reviewing data from the Stanford Study of Writing, a research project that surveyed the writing of almost 15,000 incoming university students over five years.  She found that today’s students write more than any students to come before them. The reason: online communication is text dependent, and much social activity carries on over the Internet. The survey revealed that 38% of students’ writing comes outside of the classroom, most of it online.

Clive Thompson of Wired magazine puts this into perspective:

It’s almost hard to remember how big a paradigm shift this is. Before the Internet came along, most Americans never wrote anything, ever, that wasn’t a school assignment. Unless they got a job that required producing text (like in law, advertising, or media), they’d leave school and virtually never construct a paragraph again.

Is the endless stream of tweets, blog updates and text messages of any value, intellectual or literary? Lunsford’s research indicates it is:

Lunsford’s team found that the students were remarkably adept at what rhetoricians call kairos—assessing their audience and adapting their tone and technique to best get their point across. The modern world of online writing, particularly in chat and on discussion threads, is conversational and public, which makes it closer to the Greek tradition of argument than the asynchronous letter and essay writing of 50 years ago.

What do u think?

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