Dismantling Essays: essays in the wild

I have broken every single one of these rules.

In my continuing effort to change how and why teachers approach essay writing, I’ve come across some amazing resources. One of the most discussed posts was one I shared, via Sarah Donovan, via Three Teachers Talk: Three Reasons to Stop Teaching The Five Paragraph Essay .

I am a huge fan of John Warren’s writing, Why They Can’t Write: I believe it should be required reading and professional development by every high school English and History teacher (and Science, Math, PE, Orchestra, Art, etc.) for one important reason: he provides a road map to where our students are headed. If the five-paragraph essay is the only path and scaffold to instruct students on organization, we have lost our why. So, this is not a hit on the five-paragraph essay structure as much as it is a call to look closely at the why of explaining organization. Continuing the curation of mentor texts and redefining what an essay looks like is of utmost important to me. I am constantly striving to reconsider, rethink, and reflect on the practice of teaching and learning about writing.

Some of my previous posts on this topic:

Essays Revisited:

And Shawna Coppola wrote Writing Redefined (and I’m kicking my lazy, procrastinating self for not getting to my own writing book) and provided this take on multimodal learning: https://threeteacherstalk.com/2020/03/04/the-power-of-multimodal-composition/ Multimodal is my thing. Here are some more mentor text examples of essays in the wild and using multimodal pathways to redefine what an essay is:

Interactive Projects:




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