Writing skills=incredible life opportunities

As a middle school student, I had no idea just how powerful and transformative writing would become
in my life. As I began to win essay contests, the momentum began to build. Writing 2162302empowered me, gave me confidence, and helped me find my voice. By the time I graduated from high school, I had amassed over $250,000 in scholarship funds. Most of the scholarships were essay contests and every single one required written responses at some point during the process.
Why is my life’s passion to cultivate students’ thinking and writing skills? Writing transforms lives and creates incredible opportunities. As Common Core emphasizes writing across every curriculum area, the need for meaningful writing activities has grown in importance. If you are a classroom teacher, contact me for specific essay opportunities you can tie into your curriculum.
Writing is skill that opens doors to incredible life opportunities. If you are a teacher, what writing opportunities are you offering your students? If you are a student, how are you cultivating your writing skills to bring more of life’s amazing opportunities to you?

Step Right Up! Strengthening the Muscles in Sentences


What’s the difference between these two sentences:  1. Kids are amazing and creative. vs. 2. Creative kids are amazing thinkers.

A: Sentence 1 is stronger and more sophisticated in structure.
B: Sentence 2 is stronger and more sophisticated in structure.
C: Both sentences are equally as strong and sophisticated.

The correct answer is B: Sentence 2 is stronger and more sophisticated in structure. Why is that the case? It has to do with the muscles of sentences: adjectives.

There’s nothing grammatically wrong with sentence 1: “Kids are amazing and creative.” It’s just there is no power in that sentence structure: noun verb adjective conjunction adjective. Predicate adjectives are weak. They just so happen, however, to be the most natural and common way of speaking and so, by default, writing.

The structure of sentence 2: “Creative kids are amazing thinkers,” is adjective noun verb adjective noun. Now there’s a muscular sentence! Do you hear the power when adjectives precede nouns? Said simply, get rid of predicate adjectives!

It takes deliberate focus and practice for writers of all ages to learn the power of adjective placement. But, when they do, their writing can flex some major muscles!

If students can say and write the words pretty and little,

they can say and write the words beautiful and stunning, minuscule and diminutive. Even when they are five. Even when they are two grade levels behind. In fact, especially then.

This sample is of a kindergartener writing about not a big dragon, but a colossal dragon. Colossal is not a word the child knew 15 minutes before she wrote it, but because of the activities she just completed to learn the word: orally practicing the word in isolation and in sentences she created, adding kinesthetic motion to remember what the new word means, and matching images to understand the meaning, in 15 minutes, she was using the word with confidence and a deep understanding of its meaning and sophistication.

Growth and sophistication of students’ vocabularies is not only crucial to impressive writing performance, it is essential to overall academic success, and, I believe, life success.

One of my education heroines, Heidi Hayes Jacobs writes, “Language capacity is the root of all student performance” (Jacobs, 2006).  Language capacity is built by expanding vocabularies. Expanding vocabularies are built by exploring and using sophisticated synonyms.


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