I want to say just a few more things about the conference I attended, and particularly about the conference presentation.
Our presentation was a bit of a preview for an edited book that will (hopefully) be available in November of 2007. It's an edited book on secondary reading and writing, with chapters written by talented and wonderful people on interesting topics. Our presentation was part commercial for the upcoming book and part information on research on secondary reading and writing. My part was on research on secondary writing, and I had three sections:
1. What do we already know about instruction of writing in secondary schools?
2. How does the upcoming book add to that knowledge base?
3. What questions are we (really, just me) still asking?
I tried to make it both interesting to secondary teachers and useful, with a bit of humor thrown in. I DID make my opinion of five-paragraph essays and 6-Traits of Writing painfully clear. After the session, in our discussion time, there was a discussion among several teachers of how assessments in this country, from state assessments of writing to the SAT and ACT seem to push students into formulaic writing. It was a heated discussion among audience members at our session that I was happy to see.
I just wish I were more of an activist. So many teachers tell me that they just go in their classrooms, shut the door, and teach the best way they can. OR they do some kind of balancing act between teaching to the test and good instruction (I've been there myself, so I can really relate).
I want to see teachers banding together and arguing for quality instruction, for learning that indicates depth, and for encouraging the whole child, not just the child's ability to perform on standardized assessments.