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Interview Questions:

1. Why do you think students need to know how to write?


2. What importance do you think grammar has, if any?
3. How do you teach writing in your classroom?
4. How do your students respond to grammar and writing instruction?
5. What do you think is the most important thing students need to learn about writing?
6. What are ways literature can be used to incorporate writing?
7. What have you observed students attitudes to be towards writing and grammar? If
negative, do you think it is possible to change student attitudes?
8. Do you think there is any value in using literature to teach writing? If so, what and why?
9. Do you think using language in context is the most effective way of teaching writing?
Please explain why or why not.

8th grade Language Arts Teacher


Why do you think students need to know how to write?
I think that students need to know how to write for three reasons. One is that reading
and writing are so inextricably linked that they cannot be separated. For example,
students learn main idea as they create topic sentences for their paragraphs in essays or
they understand why and how authors use figurative language as they write their own
examples. The second reason they need to know how to write is because they will have to
write in life. They must be able to communicate effectively and professionally in
whatever job they choose. They will need to write reports, summaries, documentation,
or at least e-mails to their bosses or their colleagues. Third, students need to know how
to write as a way of thinking through ideas or problems, which may extend beyond
school.
What importance do you think grammar has, if any?
Grammar is extremely important as people are judged by how well they speak and write
throughout life (school, college, career, community involvement). People who
communicate well using proper grammar are more likely to make a good first
impression or get the job in an interview. Once students learn the grammar rules and
are able to apply them, they feel more confident about speaking in front of others or
writing for others to read.
How do you teach writing in your classroom?
I take a multifaceted approach to teaching writing. We study the writings of others to
analyze word choice, figurative language, meaning, and tone. I teach students to write

essays using a formulaic approach at first and then deviate from that once students
learn how to organize their ideas and elaborate. Students begin by creating a modified
four square, writing a rough draft, editing and revising, and writing a final copy. During
the essay process, I hold writing workshops to teach new skills I want them to apply to
their writing: eliminating dead verbs, varying sentence beginnings, or using transitional
words effectively. I also hold individual writing conferences to discuss individual
strengths and weaknesses with each student each time we write as I believe feedback
throughout the writing process is essential to correcting weaknesses. I also spend time
teaching grammar in isolation to ensure students understand the grammar rules and
how to apply them. I know students have mastered the rules when they correctly use
them when they write.

How do your students respond to grammar and writing instruction?


I think most students dread the grammar and writing instruction at the beginning of the
year as they are scared of it or think they hate it. However, we keep writing portfolios, so
students can see their progression. As they start to see their own progress and the
process gets easier for them, the groaning and moaning subside, and they try their best
to impress me. It becomes a game as we try to elongate our sentences, use precise
vocabulary words with more than one syllable, and work in figurative language. By the
end of the year, students enjoy writing and feel more confident in their abilities.
Students who have hated writing try their hand at more creative types of writing (such
as poetry) because writing is no longer the chore it once was.
What do you think is the most important thing students need to learn about writing?
The most important thing students can learn about writing is that they can do it. Writing
isn't hard or scary when you know how to make a plan to organize your writing and how
to explain what you mean. Writing is a skill you will need no matter what your future
goals may be.
What are ways literature can be used to incorporate writing?
Literature and writing go hand in hand. Students can respond to the literature they read
by writing about it. For example, they can learn to summarize a text by writing a
summary, or they can learn to analyze a text by writing a literary analysis. Some
students even write about literature to think through the story to aid in comprehension.
Students can analyze literature to understand the writer's tone (sarcasm, hostility, or
disapproval), the writer's style, and word choice. Through this analysis, students find

their own writers' voices and styles. Students can write their own examples of imagery
or figurative language when they read them in others' works.
What have you observed students attitudes to be towards writing and grammar? If
negative, do you think it is possible to change student attitudes?
Students come in at the beginning of each year with a bad attitude towards writing and
grammar, but I know that it is possible to change students' attitudes because I do it
every year. I think the initial bad attitude is a cover up for a fear of writing. Most of them
are simply unsure of how to start or how to complete the process. Students need direct
instruction in writing just as they do any other new skill. I think that part of eliminating
the bad attitude is building their confidence levels when it comes to writing, which
means celebrating the strengths in each essay while working on the weaknesses. I
change attitudes by meeting individually with every child throughout the writing process
to address individual weaknesses and hold students accountable for the changes I expect
to see from rough draft to final copy.
Do you think there is any value in using literature to teach writing? If so, what and why?
Yes, I think there is value in using literature to teach writing. Students learn what makes
writing great when they read the great writers throughout history. I also think they learn
to think more creatively when they are exposed to differing styles and ways of using
language to convey meaning. They come across new vocabulary words that they can use
in their own writing to be more effective, precise communicators. They learn how to
infer shades of meaning, how words with the same denotation have different
connotations, and how to differentiate between the literal and figurative meaning. When
students read literature, they learn to think about words, which is the exact same skill
they need to use to write well. Suddenly, choosing the "right" word matters. Students no
longer rush through essays to just get something down on the paper. Instead, they think
through what they want to say and how they can make a point clearly and effectively.
Do you think using language in context is the most effective way of teaching writing (ie:
using literature)? Please explain why or why not.
No, I don't think using language in context is the most effective way of teaching writing.
I think it must be done simultaneously with teaching the grammar rules and the writing
process. Students have points they want to make and have creative ideas to write, but if
they don't understand pronoun/antecedent agreement or subject/verb agreement or the
comma rules, their ideas get lost behind the errors. Once students understand the
grammar rules and how language works, they can make the points they hope to make.

What if I have the next great American writer in my class, the next great inventor, or the
next President of the United States? What if I don't clearly teach the grammar rules?
What if the next great American writer's novel doesn't get past the editor's desk because
of the grammar mistakes? What if the future inventor can't get a patent because no one
can understand his patent application? What if the future politician can't get his name
on a ballot because his speeches are so full of grammatical errors that no one takes him
seriously? I believe that teaching the rules behind what makes the language work is a
gift that I am giving the students that they will use throughout life, and I take it
seriously.

6th grade Language Arts


Why do you think students need to know how to write?
Writing is an important form of communication. Writing is also a discipline that helps
teach planning, critical thinking, and persistence. Although there are many tools to help
students with the mechanics of writing today, they still need to develop the skills to
know how and when to use those tools effectively. Communication through writing is a
widely required 21st century skill in the workplace.
What importance do you think grammar has, if any?
I believe an understanding of grammar is important for students to be able to
communicate in writing and for those who intend to study a foreign language. It is
difficult to apply grammar skills to a second language if you do not understand the
grammar rules of your native language.
How do you teach writing in your classroom?
I generally start with the basic rules of grammar as a review. Then we look at good
sentence and paragraph structure. Grammar practice in which we apply the grammar
rules we have learned is part of our normal weekly routine. Throughout the year, we are
encouraged to collect student writing samples using suggested prompts. In an ideal
situation, we make it all the way through the steps of the writing process, although
sometimes we have to move on to cover all of the reading and literary skills we are
required to teach.
How do your students respond to grammar and writing instruction?
My students generally hate writing prompts, but that is understandable since I hate the
suggested writing prompts too. They respond pretty well to our grammar practice which

is based on a continuing story about a character named Hairy Beast and his friends. In
our practice, students correct my sentence(s) in their notebooks, then we check them
together. Students are required to correct their own mistakes in red ink, so that they can
see the skills they need to improve and if they are continuing to make the same
mistakes.
What do you think is the most important thing students need to learn about writing?
I believe the most important thing students need to learn about writing is the process. It
does not need to be perfect the first time. It will not be perfect the first time if you are
working the process correctly. Students need to focus more on composing and
connecting ideas at the beginning. Grammar (although it is much easier to focus on and
improve) is the icing on the cake -- and if the cake is terrible, no amount of icing will
make it better.

What are ways literature can be used to incorporate writing?


I do not do this enough, but literature can be used as a vehicle for reflective or
responsive writing.
What have you observed students attitudes to be towards writing and grammar? If
negative, do you think it is possible to change student attitudes?
My students are generally negative. I think changing student attitudes will begin
with changing my own attitude. I often feel that there is not ample time and that student
writing is so poor to begin with, I don't know how to individualize and conference with
each student enough to really improve their writing. You cannot supervise an
unruly classroom while meeting individually with students to discuss their writing.
Do you think there is any value in using literature to teach writing? If so, what and why?
Yes I think there is. Literature can be used as a vehicle for reflective or responsive
writing which requires students to use critical thinking and clarifies comprehension or
lack thereof.
Do you think using language in context is the most effective way of teaching writing?
Please explain why or why not.
Using language in context is the most effective way of teaching writing because that is
the way we use language in real life -- it is authentic. However, in order to use language
in context to teach writing to an entire classroom, the teacher must first make sure that
everyone has the same context (basic grammar review/instruction).

6th grade Special Education Teacher


Why do you think students need to know how to write?
Simply put, because its used every daywhether you work or not. Writing improves
language, too.
What importance do you think grammar has, if any?
Grammar plays a major role in creating good writers. It can be tricky, because textbook
grammar, which seems natural to educators, can appear a foreign language to students.
A classroom could include students from different regions of the country, different
countries, and different socioeconomic backgrounds. This diversity creates learning
barriers--the prior knowledge is simply all over the place. Effective teaching makes
learning relevant and meaningful and thats hard to do with grammar.
How do you teach writing in your classroom?
Honestly, I dont. I support the instruction of all core classes for my resource students.
We may have mini lessons from time to time on grammar and basic sentence structure,
but it isnt a focus. I realize the injustice this does the students. My group of students are
likely some of the weakest writers in the school. Working on and developing their
writing and grammar skills could benefit their performance across all academic areas. I
see the problem, I do. Time is the biggest issue though. Maybe I can find a way to
squeeze it in next yearmaybe.

How do your students respond to grammar and writing instruction?


With immense frustrationstudents that have a difficult time reading often have just as
difficult of time writing; especially those who missed the phonics boat altogether.
Students with certain learning disabilities are unable to see writing as whole words and
phrases, rather they see individual letters. These students generally are poor spellers
and weak writers. If its something they have struggled with all along, they typically shut
down and opt to not write at all. Imagine being six years behind in writing, how
frustrating would that feel?
The grammar seems to be easier to graspits more concrete, there are right and wrong
answers. As the curriculum gets more rigorous, the rules become harder to understand
and apply. Lower achieving students have a more difficult time switching between the
school and home languages. In many cases, their home language is their school
language, and its evident in their writing.
What do you think is the most important thing students need to learn about writing?
Probably that its used every day. Not all students plan to continue their education at a
two or four year college. Those that plan to begin working right after high school need to
understand the role writing plays in their future. Rather than writing essays and
research papers, they will be completing order forms, billing statements for customers,
insurance applications, and will likely send a fair amount of professional emails. Even
those who end up not working at all still need a solid foundation and understanding of
the writing process and various grammar rules if only to help their children with
homework.
What are ways literature can be used to incorporate writing?
Like everything, practice makes perfect. If students are expected to respond to what
theyve read by applying grammar rules and the writing process, their writing will
improve over time.
What have you observed students attitudes to be towards writing and grammar? If
negative, do you think it is possible to change student attitudes?
Absolutely negative. For the most part, my students feel they arent very good writers. I
think the attitude could be changed, but it will likely take a whilelots of practice and
encouragement. They need to be praised for small achievements along the way.

Do you think there is any value in using literature to teach writing? If so, what and why?
Sure, its just another chance to practice writing and will likely expose students to a
different type and tone of writing. It could be especially valuable to students planning to
continue their education.
Do you think using language in context is the most effective way of teaching writing (ie:
using literature)? Please explain why or why not.
I think its helpful, but I also think its beneficial to expose students to the various
contexts of writing. Its extremely difficult to teach students to regulate and know when
to use their school language or their home language. Not all writing is formal. There
will be students who are best at informal writing (likely tier 2 and 3 students) and
students who switch between the two with ease. Exposure is key. Everyone needs to feel
successful at some level, even if its just completing an application and signing their
name.