Teaching Effective Writing In High School

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By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - This month almost 50 million public school students with 3.3 million teachers are beginning a new year.

Sadly, not all kids are lucky enough to have great teachers – like the one education writer Jay Mathews described recently in The Washington Post. He relates how Anne Collins’ high school son struggled with writing until Rick Cannon became his English teacher at Gonzaga College High School.

Cannon asks parents to limit the use of word processors. Writing should be in longhand as a solitary early morning or late night activity and never as one shot. Revise, revise. At the start of the year, then at the end, students wrote about weather. Collins was astounded at the difference in her son’s writing.

Cannon says, “Write to express, not impress” and reminds kids that many top executives credit their success to writing skills. Mathews believes that some of his best writing was done by hand. Mine, too.

Cannon is demanding, a good model for English teachers.

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