On Essay Rubrics, Why They are Hell, and How to Design Them Better

On Essay Rubrics, Why They are Hell, and How to Design Them Better

Rubrics are Hell. Essay rubrics. Project rubrics. Oral presentation rubrics. As a social constructivist, I’ve always disliked them. But I can’t escape them. We teachers are actually wedged between rubrics on both sides. We use them on our students’ work, to try and streamline the complex and demanding cognitive process of evaluation. And our administrators …

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Freewriting Works. So Why is it a Tough Sell?

Freewriting Works. So Why is it a Tough Sell?

I’ve been teaching the technique of freewriting to high school students for a dozen years. Peter Elbow invented it. Buy and read his book, Writing without Teachers. The theory in a nutshell is this: you can more efficiently clarify your thinking, invent thesis statements, or whatever, if you warm up your brain by writing some …

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Five-Paragraph Essay, It’s Time for You to Die

Five-Paragraph Essay, It’s Time for You to Die

All-right, five-paragraph essay. You and I have struggled long and hard. In middle school, you rolled up on your Razor kick scooter and, laughing, rubbed my nose on the asphalt. In high school, I fumbled my hand up your shirt and thought I was in love. In college we fought; I’m fuzzy on the details, …

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How to Write Fiction: 5 Books That Are Actually Useful

How to Write Fiction: 5 Books That Are Actually Useful

  My Quest for Useful Books on How to Write Fiction. I have a confession. I call myself a writer, but I’ve never read Stephen King’s On Writing. Yes, the classic on how to write fiction. The one everyone quotes. Haven’t read it. I know. Sacrilege. I’m assuming you’re here because you haven’t gotten around …

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