Monday, October 29, 2007


Day 37, Monday, October 29, 2007

This morning, in reading over a chapter in To Kill a Mockingbird, I came across some particularly lovely writing, and I immediately thought about having the students imitate it. This is a teaching technique I've used too infrequently over the years -- having the students write a sentence or paragraph in which they replicate, as closely as possible, the structure and style of an author. Every time I've used this method of teaching writing, it's been extremely successful. The students enjoy having a specific, closely controlled task (imitating the exact structure and style of a writer) while still being able to express their own thoughts about a topic. When we do it in class, I always find that the kids work silently and industriously on the assignment and love to share the results. Plus, there's no doubt that it teaches important lessons. After all, if you want to learn to write well, doesn't it make sense to imitate the masters? Why don't I do this exercise more often??

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Today I felt relaxed as I was teaching, primarily because I hadn't planned too much to cover in my lessons. I didn't have to rush, which is a wonderful luxury for anyone these days, especially a teacher. Perhaps school, as well as being a shelter for kids from chaos and uproar and violence, should also be an oasis of calm in the midst of the frenzied lifestyle of the times. It might be a real blessing for kids to see a teacher who moves calmly and evenly through a lesson -- to a see a teacher who refuses to rush and yet still covers a significant amount of material. Perhaps it sets a good example for the kids, proof that a rich life can be lived without dashing and fretting.

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