Tuesday’s Teaching and Reading Tips: How teaching argumentation could be hurting students, the other PTO, and the secrets to building better habits both in and out of the classroom

Last week I introduced the blog to my Tuesday Tips that were previously just sent to subscribers. This week, it continues with, among other things, a must read for teachers of argument and the secrets to building good habits that last.

This Week’s Articles:

“We Spend Too Much Time Teaching Students to Argue”
In this EdWeek Article, Kate Ehrenfeld Gardoqui makes a convincing case that while teaching argumentation is an essential part of our job, the classic approach of teaching it by having students make arguments that they then seek to support with quotes from the text is problematic. Her reason for this is that in the silo-ed off world of 2018, seeking just the evidence needed to support a preconceived viewpoint of the world–as opposed to weighing all the facts–has become a dangerous new normal. She argues that instead what a modern writing teacher should do is to teach students to weigh the facts first and then construct their arguments. This article is a must read for any modern teacher of argumentation!

The Secret Skills of Master Teachers: Predictable Time Off

While this post isn’t about writing, it is about being a writing teacher. Arguably no teacher has longer hours or faces a greater risk of losing her/himself in the face of endless stacks of work. In this post, Dave Stuart Jr. reminds us that we do better work and live better lives when we have scheduled, regular, and predictable time off is, which feels incredibly timely in mid-October, as that is when the paper piles often begin to build and the respite of Thanksgiving is still well off on the horizon.

The Ultimate Guide to Student Writing Contests

I’ve always loved the concept of my students doing student writing contests. The times when my students have entered contests, they’ve tended to throw themselves into the writing in a different sort of way because of its “realness.” The trick has been finding decent contests for them to do, which has been really hard. We Are Teachers has potentially solved this problem for good with this guide of 30 strong writing contests from across the country. The contests are wide ranging, but what they share is that every one is a real, well-supported, and viable contest that I can’t wait to show to my composition students.

This Week’s Teaching Tip
This week’s teaching tip, is a request of you–my readers–for some tips. I am currently working on a published piece and presentation for the NCTE national conference in Houston next month concerning peer review of writing, and while I have my thoughts, I would love to hear your thoughts on what you do to get kids talking about their writing with each other. Specifically, I am curious about what works for you, what doesn’t, and how you do it! If you have things that work, know what doesn’t work, or have other key insights, please share, as I would love to bring them to a wider audience! Also, no names will not be used (unless you want) and the responses that I use will only be used once I have cleared the content with you! Here is a quick link to my contact page, if you are interested.

Book Recommendation:

This week’s recommendation is Atomic Habits by James Clear. Clear is a relatively new pop behavioral science writer in the vein of Dan Pink or Malcolm Gladwell who focuses specifically on habits. I’ve been on Clear’s subscriber list for a while now, and his work has informed everything from my writing habits to my National Writing Project post this month on building student writing identities, which begins with a quote of his. And while I think Clear’s wisdom concerning habits and identity are essential reading for any teacher, I have also found that my students love his work too! In an advisory at my school that I do, I have begun to share some of his pieces, and the response has been overwhelming and positive. This makes sense because students, like us, know that they likely engage in too many of the wrong habits and not enough of the right ones and would like the tools to hack their natural impulses, and that is exactly what Clear provides!

Thanks as always for reading!

Yours in teaching,


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