Welcome to Teaching Write Now – a website developed to organize resources, lesson plans and discussion about teaching writing on the secondary level. This site was created as a final project for the MA in Writing Studies at Kean University. It is intended for high school teachers, particularly those working in urban areas or with students who are disengaged with the standard writing assignments.
The idea for this website came after watching a TedTalk from a North Korean teacher who found that her students’ difficulty in generating original thesis statements came from a totalitarian system where people were taught exactly what to think all the time. I thought about my own students in northern New Jersey, far from North Korea, but still unable to generate original thesis statements. In many urban schools, control comes from a large number of inflexible rules. Students are rarely given the freedom to make their own decisions in the school building, so when they are given the assignment to be creative in their writing, they often come up blank. “What do you want me to say, Miss?” is a common question.
Added to the problem of a rigid structure, standardized tests have become the benchmark to measure students’ worthiness to graduate and teachers’ ability to teach. The stakes are high, and the level of complexity is much greater than with previous assessments. How do we teachers simultaneously get our students prepared for these tests and still give them space to open their minds and learn to make their own meanings from all the information that surrounds them.
Biographical Information: My name is Larissa Lee. I am currently a full-time high school English teacher in New Jersey where I live with my husband and four of our five children still at home. I have an undergraduate degree in Russian Area Studies with concentrations in Russian Literature and International Relations from Cornell University. I have worked as a reporter for a newspaper and financial news wire before homeschooling my children for ten years.
I want to thank my advisor, Dr. Mia Zamora, who told me I would finish this project when I wasn’t so sure. Thank you also to my family–my husband, David, my children, Kyra, Aleksei, Anna, Vladimir and Dmitri, and my parents, John and Doris Dudash–who all played their part in supporting me in my passion for learning and teaching.