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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

What's so bad about template writing, anyway?



Writing Whether you're writing a presentation for work, an e-mail to a friend, or even an article for the newspaper, you probably use a common organizational structure and some stock phrases to make yourself understood.

So when the Florida Department of Education started alerting school districts about concerns over student "template writing" on this year's FCAT exam, you perhaps had the same thought that we and others had  — isn't that what works?

Monica Miller of Venice had a letter in the Herald-Tribune that cut to the core of the matter. "All writing is formulaic," Miller wrote:

"If in the tests they use some of the 'sparkle words' that were suggested to them in class to make their similes and metaphors strong, that too is a plus — at least they were listening and remembered. 'A potpourri of iridescent colors' and 'as nervous as a marshmallow in a bonfire' — that's good writing.

Perhaps the phrases were created by the teachers and memorized by the students, but we learn from the examples and suggestions of others and by putting that newfound knowledge to use.

I see great things ahead of these students in the writing world. They are learning the 'craft' of writing. So, my sparkling advice to the state Department of Education — 'cool it.'"

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:30am]


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