February 2010

“Reflecting on the importance an apprenticeship plays in the learning process reminds me of what the writer Ann Berthoff once said: ‘We aren’t born knowing how to write, but we are born knowing how to know how.'”

Kelly Gallagher, for the last twenty-one years, has written two other books about the importance of adolescent writing and the demands of literacy. He talks about the vast importance of writing in the classroom and his experiences of how to improve writing instruction. In particular, chapters 3 focuses on the teacher as a writing model and chapter 4 focuses on real world models of writing.

Gallagher begins by showing the importance of the teacher being able to write with the students. He believes that the reason many students don’t like to get started with writing is because teachers don’t actively write and if they do are experts at hiding the work it takes to write well (49). Students need to know that they are not alone in the writing process and they need to know that every writer goes through the same uneasiness of writing.

The importance of showing first drafts is great because it shows students that it doesn’t require a “one and done” type attitude. Many students think that the first draft is the only draft that needs to be done. Through showing students the process of editing and crafting a good piece of writing, the students will learn. He believes grading should be done differently for this process and first drafts shouldn’t be graded. Teachers should also be more of coaches at first until the final result. Teachers should also preach students to talk their paper out with others as well as have a model to help them out with the process. He also preaches how if students have a choice in what they write then they will write better. If this is done successfully, the rewards for writing should be large with its benefits for students in the future.

Gallagher also talks about the importance of editing with a strategy he likes to call, “Pimp My Write”. In this activity, students add to their writing to make it more rich. The process of substituting, taking things out, adding, and rearranging (STAR) is the method he uses to help edit and make a piece more rich. He emphasizes other points of revision which involve branching a sentence (putting in a word in the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence to enrich it), finding synonyms for common words, and limiting dead words (finding more exciting ways to replace very commonly used words and passive words). Changing content, creating a question flood, reorganization, and finding voice is a way for deeper revision.

In chapter 4 he argues the importance of reading. In an experiment he found that most of the “well written” papers in his class were avid readers. He believes reading along with intensive hands-on writing instruction creates better writing. Movie reviews, magazines, newspapers, and other common modes of writing should be used as other sources of mentor texts for students to use when writing.

Gallaghers suggestions for teaching writing obviously show that the man is passionate about his field. This book is sectioned off very nicely for an easy read with some controversy, as well as incites to the world of writing at the secondary level.

Sentence stalking: “If an EHM is completely successful, the loans are so large that the debtor is forced to default on its payments after a few years.”

In this sentence it shows the way “its” does not have an apostrophe. “It” is a word that does not show possession of “payments.” It is perfectly logical but in this way it does not show possession, it show’s a contraction of “it is.” Pronouns, names, and objects can show possession with an apostrophe.



Looking at Gallagher’s first chapter reminds me of my experiences as an adolescent writer. Writing is still something I struggle with and dread doing. It has taken me two hours to even want to write this post now. There is so much to express in writing and so much that is hard to express that it overwhelms me.  Even now I figure I still don’t know much about writing but at least I know the style that needs to be used. I have figured out structure at a college level, and have even started to express a more creative style in my creative writing class. This has all taken time to develop some sort of fluidity in my writing and that’s what the point is.

There was one class in high school in particular that emphasized writing everyday. It was a tenth grade English class. We spent the first half of each class with a writing prompt given by a student in charge. Then the students will spill there heart out about the topic. After a few minutes we shared as a class. Some of our conversations would last for at least 20 minutes, and probably could have lasted the rest of the class period. People would spill out about music, family, friends, pain, and wherever else our hearts took us. I was not much of a reader or writer unless assigned but it was a great experience. On top of having to write everyday, we got extra credit for each day that we presented. Incentive was given to spill our thoughts. I liked that and always remembered this class ever since. Although I don’t know exactly how, part of my reason to become an English minor was to have students be able to feel comfortable writing this way, and to share something in the classroom. Writing routinely is very important in the classroom and it can help with student’s writing scores later on.

Sentence stalking: “Physically strong, he bluffs his way through the camps as a tinsmith and a shoemaker, and also exploits his ability with languages.”

The “physically strong” is an opener that starts the sentence. The next comma then separates two independent clauses which are the “bluffs” and his ability to exploit “languages.”

http://books.google.com/books?id=ASajL1zsziAC&dq=subject:”Biography+%26+Autobiography”&lr= in the review section.

In reading Romano’s book I liked seeing the two voiced poem. It was very inspiring some of the poem shown. I also found interesting how he talked about haiku’s. I thought they were fun in third grade but I didn’t see much point to them other than structure and sillyness. So here is a two voiced poem about haikus.

Students/Some Teachers Japanese

I think                                                        I think

haikus are                                                haikus are

easy to do,                                               difficult

there isn’t really much

to                                                                  to



It can be about anything                  it can be about anything

most have

as long as it has

three lines                                              three lines

but they

it doesn’t

have to have                                          have to have

5 syllables on the first line,              5 syllables on the first line,

7 syllables on the second line,       7 syllables on the second line,

and 5 syllables on the third.            and 5 syllables on the third.

What is important is that it              What is important is that it

Follows these rules.                            These


It doesn’t matter what it says.       matter

In imagery and symbolism

not necessarily

Structure is most important           structure.

My mentor text was the poem is “The Last Word” by Jenn Reid, one of Romano’s students at Miami University.vThe highlighted parts could be taught in a way to show the different sides to someone’s story or topic. An example is in her poem on the very first line, “He said………She said”. In this type of poem it shows the same topic but in different terms, like I had in my poem. I have never seen this type of poem before, but I believe that’s what this line is trying to do.

Upon reading Chapter Four of Romano’s book, I found it interesting the distinctions that were made through two different types of writing about one person. The first was a biography of William Basie. This type of writing does show information and facts about a person and makes it flow from one thing to the next. Bosie has also had a poem written about him, which showed a different side of what music was and what he meant to people and the world of music. Below is another example of a musician’s biography and a song they have written. Now this is a little different but the poetry of the song can bring insight onto what the artist is like. This is a biography of Greg Graffin.

“Dr. Gregory Walter Graffin (born November 6, 1964 in Racine, Wisconsin), better known as Greg Graffin, is the vocalist and co-founder of the punk rock band Bad Religion. He attended El Camino Real High School.

In 1980, at age 15, Graffin and a few high school classmates formed Bad Religion in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley. After making a name for themselves in the Los Angeles punk scene, releasing three EPs and two full-length albums, they disbanded in 1984. However, the band re-formed in 1987, with the How Could Hell Be Any Worse? line-up with an addition of former Circle Jerks guitarist Greg Hetson, and released their highly acclaimed comeback album, Suffer, in the following year. The album was a comeback for Bad Religion as well as a watershed for the Southern California punk sound popularized by their label Epitaph Records, which is owned by guitarist Brett Gurewitz. The band has recorded and toured frequently ever since the release of “Suffer.” Bad Religion is known for its articulate and often politically charged lyrics as well as its musically sophisticated (yet fast-paced) harmony, melody and counterpoint.

Graffin and Gurewitz are the band’s two main songwriters, though Graffin wrote the bulk of the material on his own for a three-album period in the late 1990’s when Gurewitz left the band. Graffin recorded a solo album in 1997, called American Lesion, which consisted of softer, more pop-oriented songs. After a stint with major label Atlantic Records ended in the early 2000s, Bad Religion re-signed with Epitaph and Gurewitz rejoined to record two more albums, and the band released their fourteenth studio album, “New Maps of Hell” in 2007.

In June of 2005, it was reported that Graffin would continue his solo work with the release of Cold as the Clay[1]. The new album is an amalgamation of new songs by Graffin and 18th and 19th century American folk songs. It was produced by Brett Gurewitz and released on Anti- Records on July 10, 2006.

Graffin double majored in anthropology and geology as an undergraduate at the University of California, Los Angeles. He went on to earn a masters degree in geology from UCLA and received his Ph.D. in evolutionary paleontology from Cornell University. However, according to a video clip originally from the Bad Religion official website and also available from The Cornell Evolution Project homepage, the PhD thesis was officially a Zoology PhD thesis, supervised by William B. Provine at Cornell University. The thesis was entitled “Monism, Atheism and the Naturalist Worldview: Perspectives from Evolutionary Biology”. It is described as being essentially an evolutionary biology PhD but having also relevance to history and philosophy of science.

Greg Graffin currently resides in Los Angeles, California and is teaching life science at UCLA.”

From this biography you can see that he formed a punk rock band named Bad Religion, they have had some success and longevity, he has had a partnership with the guitarist when it comes to releasing records and writing songs, and he is a professor at UCLA with a PhD. His thesis involved evolutionary biology. All of these things are true and is every bit a part of Graffin.

Now here is a song by his band:

“Fertile Crescent”

Come and see the brilliant light
Don’t let your emotions mask your sight
It’s the manifestation of a deeper fight
That affects me and you

My optimism was running high
A new world order was on my mind
But I couldn’t believe it when I heard them say
They’re blowing it away

The fertile crescent is burning today
And baby my emotions are too
The cradle of humanity has led us all astray
And we’re all in this together don’t you know
‘Cause our species has nowhere else to go

Aggression rears it’s ugly head
Retaliation brings further dread
The two are linked by unseen threads
That wind back through time

I don’t agree with this outdated trend
Nationalism is an evil friend
But hatred is instilled by invisible lines
Drawn in our minds

The fertile crescent is haunting us today
And baby our instincts are too
The ghost of humanity is warning us this way
And I think that we all should heed it don’t you know
‘Cause we’ve got nowhere else to go

The fertile crescent is haunting us today
And baby our instincts are too
The ghost of humanity is warning us this way
And I think that we all should heed it don’t you know
‘Cause we’ve got nowhere else to go

Now this song shows a different side of Graffin. It shows  a side of humanitarianism, worry for the world and society, and a personal account for his feelings of the world. None of this, unless the biography talked about each song,  would have been shown in a biography. Narrative thinking shows completely different emotions, feelings, and thoughts about whatever they’re talking about. In a multigenre paper the student will need different ways of showing a theme. Here it shows that Graffin double majored in anthropology and geology which shows he likes to work with the ground and learn about the physical world and how humanity is affected. This song shows his struggle with humanity and there affect on the world.

These two different methods of writing are both important, it’s just the matter of thinking that is involved. Biography’s show facts while the poetry, and in my example the song, shows an emotional and a more thinking way of thinking about the person.

Mentor Texts:

http://www.last.fm/music/Greg+Graffin/+wiki, and http://www.lyricspond.com/artist-bad-religion/lyrics-fertile-crescent

Sentence stalking:

In 1980, at age 15, Graffin and a few high school classmates formed Bad Religion in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley.

This is a sentence that has commas. In class I would teach them that in conversation, the person would pause. I will also show them that without “at age 15” the sentence would still make sense. This is added in to emphasize the importance of what year and how old Graffin was when he started the band.