The Forgotten Criterion – Making Writing Interesting

I stumbled across this article today and just had to share. Something that’s so relevant for teachers (especially English teachers) is that ‘blah’ feeling we get when we know we have a large stack of papers to grade. Don’t get me wrong, as educators we love seeing our students improve and reading their work…but at the same time, knowing you have a (often very dry and very large) pile to get through can be daunting and tiring before the task even begins!

That’s why when I stumbled upon Ken Lindblom’s blog post, I thought, ‘Wow, how could I have missed something so simple, and yet so important?’ And that’s the importance of interest in our students’ papers.

Lindblom articulates it best,

“Once I was reading a stack of papers, and I remember thinking, ‘Man, I wish these papers were more interesting!’ Then it hit me: Students will work on what’s listed on a rubric. In my next paper assignment, I added this to the rubric: ‘Is Interesting to Read.’

That criterion changed everything. Suddenly students were adding more creativity and originality to their papers. They were adding humor or compelling emotional statements, photos, comics, memes, and other creative touches. The students added dialog, quoted from more interesting sources. They discovered that Word has templates that make a paper a more compelling-looking document.

How simple, and yet profound is this? Far too often students think that their writing must be informative, educational, grammatically correct, polished, etc. (which is, of course, true) but a truly compelling paper goes beyond those basic requirements. It’s interesting, too.
A compelling and outstanding paper is engaging, just as much as it is educational.

Lindblom explains this idea further, speaking to our classroom goals:

“Your goal should be to educate students to be ready for real-world writing situations, for authentic situations. And in those cases, interesting readers (or listeners) is a tremendously important skill.”

This post honestly got me thinking – so often we find value based upon how well-written a paper is, but if it’s not grabbing our attention (and holding it) is that really a successful paper?

Things to ponder. What are your thoughts?



Featured Image Credit: Thought Catalog

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