English Department Meeting, 11/15/14

State of the Department

  • Entire English faculty stayed the same in each grade this year!
  • The book list has been refined and built to last
    • Centered around primary texts
    • Follows the epic tradition in 9th and 10th grade
    • Rhetoric has been rolled into 11th Grade English

Current Needs

  • Greater consistency in teaching/training a common writing process, and appropriately evaluating/providing feedback at each step of the process
  • A compiled handbook of Mars Hill-specific introductions on each book/author, and a document for parents about the role of literature in the Mars Hill vision (Ben, Kelly, Chad have been working on this)

Writing’s Place in the Vision of Mars Hill

  • Builds virtue by teaching diligent adherence to a process and attention to detail
  • Enables students to become better engagers of the word and world

The Mars Hill Writing Process

  • Pre-writing/Content Phase → Working Thesis (evaluate: clarity, specificity)
  • Logical Organization Phase → Outline and rough draft (evaluate: coherence, flow, unity)
  • Revision and Editing Phase → Proofing Draft (evaluate: finalized thesis, tone, paragraph development, sentence style, grammar, conciseness, exactness)
  • Proofreading → Final Draft (evaluate: formatting, punctuation, mechanics)
  • More on this here…

Guiding Principles for Writing Tutors

  • We are grading the process at least as much as we are grading the product
  • Quality over quantity
  • Not everyone can be a great writer (talent determines ceiling)
  • Everyone can be an effective writer (discipline determines success)
  • Content development is part of composition too, a big part
  • A small assignment graded well is better than a big assignment graded poorly/late/never
  • 5-paragraph essays are awesome
  • THE RUBRIC (know it, use it)
  • The goal is for students to eventually become editors of themselves out of familiarity with the process/rubric
  • For fun: I wrote a 5-paragraph essay on the rubric

Our References: Writer’s INC/Abeka Handbook

  • If needed, assign sections to students as a class or individually (write page numbers or section numbers next to section on rubric)
  • Let these books do some teaching on your behalf in between classes
  • Let them help you teach more clearly
  • Abeka is good but dry…a little harder to use. Writer’s INC has lots of good checklists, examples, etc.

Some quotes:

    • “Not everyone can become a great writer, but everyone can and should learn how to communicate his ideas clearly and effectively. One can do this by following the basic writing process as practiced by most successful writers. This process is basically the same regardless of the length of the composition. In brief, the process consists of (1) focusing on a subject and planning what to say about it, (2) writing a rough draft without interruption, (3) rewriting, and (4) editing” (Abeka Handbook 2nd ed. 148).
    • “Writing is like any other skill. It takes a lot of practice and patience to become good at it” (Writer’s INC 4).