Each Wednesday (or thereabouts) I’ve been recording a Curiosity Journal to recap the previous week using these tag words: reading, playing, learning, reacting and writing. Sometimes I mix up the order, just to keep you on your toes.
Care to join me?
This week’s local Amazon deal offered two hours of professional organizing at a reduced price.
One glance around my office area confirmed my need for the deal.
My main organizational problem? Books.
My husband and I have installed bookshelves in every room, packing them with novels and nonfiction. I’ve stuffed homeschool textbooks into boxes that are stacked one on top of another and jammed into corners of every room. On top of and underneath tables: wobbly piles of reference books, poetry books, library books, juvenile fiction, and a few stray picture books.
But here’s another take on my book collection: The other day I heard my son refer to a “knowledge keeper.” I’m not sure where he got that phrase, but when I survey the spines that dominate my home’s interior “design”, I feel something like a “knowledge keeper,” storing up ideas and inspiration, stories and wisdom—all that knowledge—for my family or for me; for now or for later.
Heaven knows I could use two hours of professional organizing, but I didn’t purchase the deal. I passed it by because I know the organizer would push me to let go of books, and I’m not interested. Not yet.
I mean, if I’m a knowledge keeper…don’t I need ready access?
As I’ve mentioned many times, I’ve been asked this year to teach composition to high school students. Several students are struggling to organize, structure and sequence their essays. As a result, they are producing jumbled paragraphs and struggling to express a strong, clear main idea.
Clear writing requires clear thinking. But how do I teach clear thinking? I want to help them, but I struggle because storytelling and conversation come more naturally to me than the essay form—how would I present to these students lessons in organized, structured, sequential thinking?
Thank heaven for my friend Laurie, who teaches logic. A couple of weeks ago, she came in with a critical thinking presentation; she returned this past week with ideas about employing logic as it relates to writing.
Consider this from her handout:
Logic’s goal is to answer the question: “Does this follow from that?” What is the “this”? My thesis statement. What is the “that”? My supporting paragraphs. In an essay, the body paragraphs provide the logical grounds for accepting the thesis statement. As a writer, I need to evaluate each sentence of each paragraph to determine if it does in fact provide the logical grounds to accept the conclusion.
Will students heed her instruction to evaluate each sentence of each paragraph? I hope so. If they commit to that level of detail—asking if each sentence in a paragraph supports the topic sentence and if each topic sentence supports the thesis statement—they will at least turn in a paper that makes sense.
I’d much rather start with an unadorned essay that makes sense and then coach a writer to add style, than to start with a bright and lively paper that struggles to say anything meaningful or coherent.
(By the way, remind me to sign up to teach gym next year.)
(See “Writing” above.)
Every week I consider my life in terms of play and conclude that I am deep into a long season of play-poverty. What should I incorporate into my routine to lighten up?
I’m not as upset as this little girl, but I do appreciate the honest reaction:
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Handout: “Critical Thinking & Writing.” Indianapolis, 2012.
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