When I started teaching, I was a very good reader and a decent writer, but I had no idea how to teach kids to be better writers. Then I began to examine their writing closely. What was it that made it bad? There was no shortage of problems: spelling, grammar, sentence construction, poor vocabulary, misused words, and so on. But the real problem, I learned, is that truly bad writing relies almost entirely on telling, not showing. I know that the concept of “show, don’t tell” is not earth-shakingly new, but over time I discovered more and better ways to teach kids to put the concept into practice.
My basic presentation for grades four through six is the (I hope!) ironically titled “How to Be a Really, Really Bad Writer.” It is appropriate for writing fiction and nonfiction. (In addition to English, I also taught some social studies classes, and learned that bad writing doesn’t happen only in English classes!) Using a combination of slides, videos, a white board, and lots of participation from your students, I will demonstrate in real time the difference between bad and good writing. And most important, they will see that anyone can do it by following a few simple guidelines (Rule #1: Seek and Destroy Lame Verbs; Rule #2: Adjectives Are Not Your Friend). I will also leave you with some reproducible worksheets for follow-up lessons. “How to Be a Really, Really Bad Writer” works best in classroom-size groups, but a larger group is not out of the question; I’m happy to tailor the lesson to fit your specific requirements. My goal is to make the day valuable (and fun!) for you and your students.
If you choose to read one of my books as a class or grade level, I will work with you to create a custom program to talk about the book, the writing process, and anything else you would like to include. And a third option is my “Better Reading Through Mysteries” program, which focuses on “close reading” rather than the writing process.
I can’t guarantee that all your students will become great writers overnight, but I promise that at the end of the day, they’ll have a few new tools to put to use in your class – and they’ll have fun learning about them.
You can find information on scheduling, costs, and other details in the folder, but if you still have questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.
Michael D. Beil