Teachers: Discourage White Letters!

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Teachers: I was just reminded of something I recently learned from one of my college freshmen: Students have been (and will continue to do so) writing X amount of nonsense words at the end of an essay, then change the font color to white. This means the word count you see (grade?) will be larger than what they actually constructed.

Of course this is ridiculous, but then again, so is assigning a word-count minimum (in my opinion).

We need to stop the “easy-to-grade/penalize” mentality of counting words, correcting spelling, and writing in missing commas. Instead, work with young people to develop their thoughts in a clear and organized manner.

If you are reading this and you plan to use this in a future paper or assignment, please re-consider.  Your teacher may dock you for not meeting some arbitrary number he/she established, but you can continue in life knowing that not every one of your readers will concern himself/herself with how many words you can write.

When it comes to your words, quality will always outweigh quantity.

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NCTE Day 3 (Saturday) Notes/Reflections

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After a short sleep, I woke up this morning at probably 5:50 to another roommate’s trash-can lid sound emitting from his iPhone.  It might have been a gong.  Either way, it did the trick…for me.  I wasn’t upset about being up because I had wanted to get to the convention as early as possible.  A friend had a poster session that began at 8.  With a bagel in my belly, I hit the road with my Chestnut Praline Latte and got there around 8:20.  It was good to see my colleague, and I was inspired by her work and our brief catch-up chat.  More on that in a moment.

Let me speak to the exhibit hall of my convention.  I know thousands of English teachers under one roof sounds, perhaps, like a raucous group of activists who bleed red ink, but the people I spoke to while in lines or at tables were some of the most genuine and funny people I’ve ever met.  They love books; they love teaching; they love sharing stories.

I caught the end of a session on blogging for teachers, and I learned about two pretty well known sites:

twowritingteachers.wordpress.com

and

writerswhocare.wordpress.com

Everyone I spoke to at these sessions felt these blogs were among the best going for teacher-writers.  I had not considered writing about my profession; I have decided that will be coming soon.

This leads me to my day’s highlight!

Just after the session with the bloggers, the same room was used for a session entitled “Meet the Editors.”  These editors were from NCTE’s journals.  In short, attendees had a chance to learn submission guidelines and pitch ideas for upcoming issues.  I was able to speak to a column editor for English Journal, who gave me very positive feedback about an idea I have for a column.  At the same table were the chief editors, and I spoke with one of them who identified with my concept and also encouraged me to write it!  I’m going to start on it soon and submit it.  I might have a real shot, folks!

Anyway, it was a great day overall.  I met a few more authors (including Cory Doctorow, above) picked up about 8-10 more books for my classroom, and left the conference feeling rejuvenated and excited about my profession!  While I may not be able to attend each year, I do hope to attend again in the coming years.  Who knows…maybe I’ll be one of the authors this time!