Hardly a week goes by that I’m not asked about the differences between modes, genres, and formats. I admit, it’s pretty confusing out there when you try to sort it out on your own. Here is how I keep the terms separate in my work–I hope it helps you, too.
Dennis T OConnor's insight:
This thoughtful article will help define terms we encounter as we dig into the traits. Modes of writing and genres of writing carry expectations as to format and audience. This will determine voice and organization.
For good measure we need to consider the Modes of writing that are highlighted by the Common Core Standards.
"One method I use to teach organization is outlining the paper after the first draft. I ask students to write an outline of their paper if it is poorly organized and if they don’t see the lack of organization. " ~ Kathleen Sommers - Teaching and Assessing Writing with the Six Traits, Spring 2013
The problem with rote memorization of a writing organizational formula is that it has no context. The kids don't understand why they are using the form. They just memorize the basics and stumble on. This usually means they know they need five paragraphs: 1 intro 3 body 1 concluding. Hardly a universal formula for organizing writing. But that's what is usually taught (and often nothing else.)
About This Video Never underestimate the power of an intriguing start. When analyzing the literary greats like Charles Dickens and Kurt Vonnegut, be inspired by their craft and learn how to write a tantalizing introduction and strong thesis
There are several ways to organize your writing. Not every pattern will work for every writer or for every piece of writing. It is important to organize the writing in an order that is interesting, but more importantly it must be logical. In other words, it has to make sense to the reader. Everything must fit together, much like the pieces of a puzzle.
Palo Alto HS senior Luaren Wong discusses why over-reliance on the 5-paragraph essay in writing classes can be detrimental. Very well done. -JL
"Put simply, complete emphasis on traditional, expository writing is unacceptable because even seniors in the highest English lane in one of the highest-ranked, highest-achieving schools in the country are left unprepared. We are unprepared for a future where writing more often than not consists of quick reports and write-ups, persuasive pitches and creative presentations -- in other words, a world that does not require an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. In a society whose roots are increasingly in innovation and imagination, and where those making an impact now are those thinking far outside the box, it makes no sense to keep us inside it."
Being the literary nerds that we are over here, we’re obsessed with everything about our favorite authors, and particularly the little scraps of writerly intention — things that give us a view into an author’s thought process and planning technique, or even just a peek at the way they see and order the world. Plus, we like to see that authors work out their thoughts with forced attempts at organization and scribbled-out ideas just like the rest of us.
Organization: ordering ideas to make them both clear and interesting. We’ll define the trait, link it to the CCSS for writing, and suggest favorite books to use as mentor texts in teaching important elements of Organization—including leads, endings, and transitions.
A Bibliography for Teachers Interested in the Going Deep Guide: In 2006, the Northern Nevada Writing Project (sponsor of this free-to-use website) published a 196-page resource for teachers: The Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Guide.
The guide features trait-specific lessons and resources designed to help all students use 6 trait language better as they explore the act of writing. Many of the guide's lessons and resources cite awesome picture and chapter books as examples of powerfully crafted text to show and discuss with students. Many Northern Nevada school libraries made sure they had all cited books from the guide available to their teachers.
If you've improved your introduction and conclusion by making some changes, or if you've expanded and refined sections in the body of your paper, it's a good idea to consider whether the changes you've made might require some slight reorganization of the paper.
This week, I will focus on the writing trait of organization. I love to teach about organization this time of the year. My students have been writing for six months (at different stages and levels of course), and many are ready to work on organizing their writing. Here are are some lesson ideas that can help get your students writing more organized!
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