Most secondary teachers I know, wonderful teachers who are friends of mine by the way, teach information/expository writing using essay assignments.

Here’s how it usually goes:

  1. Read & annotate articles
  2. Write an essay in response to the articles
  3. Teach how to cite parts of the article in the essay
  4. Teach how to write a thesis/claim, introduction, supporting paragraphs and a conclusion
  5. Turn the essay into the teacher to grade

Okay, I understand students need to be prepared to write academic papers for testing, college and beyond. But, I also know that THE WORLD IS CHANGING and our writing instruction needs to as well.

People write online. So, shouldn’t we be teaching our students how to write articles like the ones they read online? Because, if we teach them how to write these articles, we are also teaching students how to read and analyze them too and therefore how to navigate the overwhelming online world!

Here’s an alternative:

  1. Read a ton of articles online from places like:
    Tween Tribune, Dogo NewsCommon Lit & Time for Kids
  2. Have students list topics of interest
  3. Teach how to research the topics of interest
  4. Draft lots and lots of articles in a writer’s notebook using the topic list
  5. Pick one draft and spend a ton of time revising and editing it using mentor articles
  6. Publish your article online

Here’s a video of a possible mini lesson to start your information writing unit…

I truly believe that if the way we went about teaching writing changed, so would our students’ attitude toward writing and even more importantly their identity as writers could transform too. And isn’t that the goal!?! We aren’t only trying to get students to produce an essay that meets all the standards, we want our students to realize their words are powerful and we all are writers living on the world wide web.

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