Paper Prompt: Connecting

My lit students across my three seminars began their spring semesters with two of my favorite books to teach: Euripides’ The Bacchae, perhaps not the best of the Greek tragedies but without a doubt the most bonkers of them; and Dostoevsky’s psychological doorstopper Crime and Punishment, wherein we learn how exhausting it is to spend … Continue reading Paper Prompt: Connecting

Build Your Vocabulary (And Then Don’t Use It)

The other day, as I was about to hand back some lit analysis essays my students had written, I asked them a question that had been on my mind for some time: what do you guys have against the word people? I had noticed a pattern across their papers that, when discussing characters in books … Continue reading Build Your Vocabulary (And Then Don’t Use It)

Hills I Will Die On: Abuse of Myself

My teaching philosophy holds that one should limit the energy one spends sweating the little things.  I believe fanatically in teaching my students the rules that are actual rules, but my contribution to the interminable debate surrounding the series comma is a resounding “eh.”  While I favor the series comma, I don’t care whether you … Continue reading Hills I Will Die On: Abuse of Myself

Follow us on the Twitters!

I am delighted to announce that DATW now has its own Twitter account! If you like what you see here and are on the Twitters, please follow the blog at @DATW_blog. Also, if you like what you see here, it would mean a lot if you would share our posts and tweets when they come … Continue reading Follow us on the Twitters!

Teaching the Strong Thesis Statement, Part Three

Well, we took another break, because we went on our winter vacation, and then we chaperoned a four-day school trip.  Such is teacher life. Back to work we get! When last we left our heroes, we were discussing strategies for teaching students to write thesis statements that won’t cause you to beat your head against the … Continue reading Teaching the Strong Thesis Statement, Part Three

Teaching the Strong Thesis Statement, Part Two

After the usual end-of-semester descent into grading hell, we are back with the promised Part Two of our series on thesis statements!  One of my projects with my students this month has been to get them to write shorter introductions, so in the spirit of that exercise, let’s get to the point: 2. Ask questions … Continue reading Teaching the Strong Thesis Statement, Part Two

Teaching the Strong Thesis Statement, Part One

This week, I asked my Facebook readers to suggest a topic for the blog and several people, especially my teacher pals, hit me with a lot of simmering angst about thesis statements and how students can’t write them.  There are dozens of online guides about how to write a good thesis statement, so I’m going … Continue reading Teaching the Strong Thesis Statement, Part One

Getting Squatters Out of Your Sentences

After “commas any time you pause” and “your thesis has no stakes,” this is the piece of writing wisdom I distribute most often to my students: adverbs are not your friends.  During this past week, as I’ve been helping seniors revise college essays in the Writing Lab at my Esteemed Place of Employment, I’ve been … Continue reading Getting Squatters Out of Your Sentences

Writing By Hand Is Good For You

I can take notes faster with my laptop, they tell me.  I can write down everything you say.  I can transfer it onto a Quizlet. I can spellcheck.  Taking notes by hand is slow! Yep.  I know.  You’re one hundred percent correct about all of those things.  And they add up to exactly why I … Continue reading Writing By Hand Is Good For You

Against the Essay Hook

It feels like the most commonly taught wisdom in English classes, especially in the lower grades of high school. “Start your essay with a hook.” Okay.  Interesting.  What’s a hook, exactly? “It’s an engaging opening sentence that grabs the reader’s attention.” Okay, sounds good, if a little vague.  How does it do that? “It gets … Continue reading Against the Essay Hook