Twenty-five years ago, I was desperate for a way to break out of the old instructional mold in which I had been flailing since I started teaching — you know the one I mean, where I lectured and my students listened, where I explained what this work or that work meant and my students nodded in agreement, and where, at report card sensitive intervals, my students wrote down on tests what they half-remembered or (worse) paraphrased my lectures in their essays.
I wasn’t a bad lecturer (there were few audible snores while I was lecturing; notes were taken, jokes laughed at) and many of my students wrote and tested well — some of them very well indeed. The problem was that my students and I were all trapped in a model where remembering was privileged over learning, where coloring inside the lines trumped creativity, and where the students’ desks arranged in orderly rows were a metaphor for the numbing sameness of our daily toil (a numbing sameness relieved, of course, when my lectures included lots of good jokes.)
What was worse, the way that I was teaching the reading literature had little in common with the way that I read myself, outside of school, and the way that I taught writing had almost nothing in common with the way that I did my own writing. The way I read had taken me through college and graduate school. The way I wrote had gotten me published in magazines. The ways I wrote and read seemed real. Why couldn’t my students and I, together, do real reading, real writing?
To read more about "The System," click on the document below
“I can honestly say I’ve come a lot farther in this past school year. In the beginning I was having a tough time because I wasn’t used to all this writing, but over time I’ve come to realize it has taught me a great deal. Overall, I’ve grasped a lot of writing skills that will help me through college and life.”
“As I was looking through all of my writings for the entire year, I noticed that my writing has gotten better. I think I’ve improved this year! That makes me happy!”
“I feel connecting texts [that we read] in class with my personal life is very important.”
"Real Writing, Real Results" — Your Connection to "The System"
My “Real Writing, Real Results” workshops for teachers are active, hands-on introductions to what my students used to call “The System” — a content-neutral, standards-based program for improving students’ reading, writing, and speaking skills across the curriculum.
Teachers participating in “Real Writing, Real Results” workshops come away with practical methods for immediately incorporating new approaches to developing reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills in their classrooms.
“Real Writing, Real Results” workshops also introduce teachers to classroom management techniques which significantly increase students’ participation in their own learning, provide enhanced opportunities for individualized instruction, and streamline the tracking of student progress.
“Real Writing, Real Results” workshops can be tailored to meet the individual needs of any classroom, department, school, or school district and are available as one-hour after-school, half-day, and full-day programs.
Teachers from "Real Writing, Real Results" workshops write —
“Wonderful ideas to use ... enjoyable!”
“Engaging, exciting, and incorporating useful texts / ideas.”
For more information about my programs for teachers — which can be custom-designed to meet the needs of any school — contact me at