Say What You Mean: Part Two

We love comments on our blog and on our Facebook Page!

Tammi Myers wrote the following on our Facebook Page in response to the post I wrote on Tuesday:

Sometimes we repeat jargon with the goal of being consistent with other grade levels- but that just gives us a class of kids who can parrot the terms with no real understanding.

Tammi makes an excellent point.  In these days of making sure things are consistent from grade-to-grade, as they should be, we’re losing the meaning when we communicate with students.  Thank you, Tammi, for bringing out that point by leaving a comment.

As promised, I wanted to spend a little time on what it means to “add details.”

There are several kinds details we teach students to add to their narrative and non-narrative writing:

  • action
  • dialogue
  • facts
  • setting
  • thinking/feelings

It’s our goal, as writing teachers, to teach students how to incorporate a wide-range of details, as it pertains to the genre we’re teaching, to their writing.  Let’s imagine, for a moment, we have told a student to simply “add details” to their writing.  Well, that student might go ahead and create a story that is held together with mostly actions.  That student’s story wouldn’t be too rich if it didn’t include dialogue, setting details, or internal thinking, would it?  While the student would have done what you asked (i.e., to add details), s/he didn’t include the wide range of details that would make their story interesting.  Therefore, simply telling our students to “add details” isn’t enough.  We have to name the possibilities for adding details to a story and then show them examples (e.g., mentor texts) of what a wide-range of details would look like in a story.  Finally, we must be precise when we show students how they can try to add a wide range of details to their writing when we teach them how to do this during a minilesson, strategy lesson, or in a one-to-one conference.

What are some other terms/jargon we throw around with our students in writing workshop that could use some more clarification?