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Great article! Rebecca, this

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Great article!

Rebecca, this article clearly sums up what Common Core intends to impact w.r.t. English writing in K-12 schools. For the longest time, the writing ability of K-12 students has steadily deteriorated due to the absence of understanding of contextual writing and the intended audience. You have rightly put it that "the audience" for student writing was once the lone teacher sitting after school with her cup of coffee, a red pen, and a stack of essays or other writing projects."

The absence of strong "academic writing" skills most of the time leaves many brilliant students ill-equipped in ability to present their thoughts to an audience beyond the four walls of the classroom. As a result their freshman years at college becomes a challenge.

I truly feel that Common Core school standards should be given a chance. I believe there is much to gain and nothing to lose by implementing the standards and all the noise is "much ado about nothing.

Teacher, Writer, and Artist


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This week’s writing assignment was to write up a story, pretending you’re a cashier at a grocery store, where you interact with three customers of the personality of your choice—nuts, smelly, cranky, annoying, whacked out, whatever. I wasn’t shocked at what got turned in. The cashiers at my grocery store seem dangerous, too.

Clutch, who has selective mutism and Asperger’s disorder as well as that mustache that’s still growing on school time, turned in the most remarkable story of my students. Notice I said Clutch has selective mutism and not suffers from selective mutism because I’ll tell you he’s not suffering from it one bit. I think he’s fine not saying a dang thing in class unless he has to.

Anyhow, Clutch wrote a story called “Storm Over Nevada,” where he was a cashier at a grocery store in a town in Nevada that was about to get hit with a huge storm that was predicted to wipe the town off of the globe. People were really buying a lot of beer tonight, Clutch noted in his story.

The Clutch-like cashier in the story was named Durk Sanders. Let that sink in … Clutch is calling himself Durk Sanders. This is a name a script writer would give a guy who dispatches the North Korean army with just a Bowie knife.

When I read the story out loud to the rest of the class and got to the character name of Durk Sanders, given to himself by the mild-mannered Clutch, the fellows thought very highly of Clutch’s literary coolness. Come to find out, in the story, Durk was a high school student, just like Clutch.

Durk’s first customer was an old lady who rolled up with a cart full of cat food. Durk’s second customer was a body builder who rolled up a cart full of protein powder and a pack of Marlboro Lites. Durk’s third customer was a girl who went to his high school who Durk really didn’t know. Durk, however, had always thought she was plain smoking hot, but was too timid to ever say anything to her.

Being a cashier at the grocery store, Durk mused, forced him to talk to people. Durk started talking to the girl. Her name was Linda Clark. Durk never said what she was buying, just that she asked him what he was doing after work … and since an apocalyptic storm was coming this way why not they get to know each other better in the waning hours of human existence.

As I read Clutch’s story and got to this electrifying point in the tale, Kells, Peetie, and Red were hooting and hollering in honor of Clutch.

Clutch was smiling, but not with his teeth. He smiles a lot, but never enough to show his teeth, which are covered with braces. His glasses are as thick at bricks. His face is covered with red, angry pimples. Clutch has a speech impediment, too. Here’s the last sentence of Clutch’s story … "When my shift was over I walked to the parking lot to find Linda waiting for me. It was storming finally, but the real storm was about to begin."

Kells, Peetie, Red, and their teacher, hooted and hollered some more. Wide-eyed, we all looked at Clutch … Durk … and asked our secretly cool friend the obvious question: What's gotten into you?

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