The number of podcasts currently available can almost be put in a one-to-one correspondence with infinity. Which means you might not have heard about this relatively new, relatively small operation called Lunch Box with Ed and John. The Ed and John here are poet Ed Skoog and novelist J. Robert Lennon. They talk about lunch, sure, but food serves (as it usually and rightly does) as a vehicle for conversation between good friends about writing, poetry, the ubiquity of sandwiches, and the work of a life. Consistently good stuff.
For the first in what might wind up being a series of short podcasts on reading and writing, I make you some tea and read to you. This time, it’s a short piece on mimes, women, and string. I frame it with a brief explanation that involves an obscene eggplant head. You can check it out here.
I have learned that celebrating writing is not the same as teaching children how to write — how to craft good sentences, develop a well-formed paragraph, and improve their work. Too often, teachers merely tell students to “add detail” or “summarize.” Frustrated students don’t know what to do, and many teachers haven’t learned the proper teaching skills in their graduate or professional development classes to effectively help them.
Make no mistake — done right, good writing instruction can extend learning. Diagramming sentences or doing page after page in grammar texts does not automatically result in better writers, although more able students enjoy these types of activities. There is evidence that confirms that teaching grammar in isolation does not lead to better composing. But research does confirm that when students begin to write more complex sentences, their reading comprehension improves. When they develop outlines, their organization and knowledge of text structure improves. When they respond to verbal questions using the prompts Tyre describes in the article, their oral language becomes more precise and sophisticated.