Content-Area Literacy Teaching Writing

Modernizing the Old School Essay


How can we rethink writing instruction to support students in writing authentic pieces about real world issues that matter to them? How can we move beyond the "old school essay" and invite students to write compositions that reflect what we see in real world writing? In Real Writing: Modernizing the Old School Essay, Mitch Nobis, Daniel Laird, Carrie Nobis, Dawn Reed, and Dirk Schulze lay out a method for helping students engage deeply with complex texts and nuanced arguments through writing, preparing them for authentic democratic engagement in high school and beyond. Check out the book, as well as Rachel Bear’s interview with the authors, where they discuss some of the practical strategies they have used to engage their students in this authentic, civically engaged writing.



Duration: 23:44

In This Clip: The authors of Real Writing join the NWP’s Rachel Bear to talk about where the book came from and what they think the essay could be. Drawing on examples from their lives as students and teachers, they discuss how to bring purpose to school writing and help students understand themselves as active participants in their world, in and out of school. Other topics include why the book concerns the old school essay, not the old-school essay; the importance of assessing for thinking, not assessing for structure; and the value of exposing students to the diverse and powerful ways that contemporary essayists like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Malcom Gladwell, and Elizabeth Kolbert use argument, narrative, and language.