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This Time It's Personal: Teaching Creative Nonfiction

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Students often see little connection between their school lives and the lives they lead outside of school. Thesis-driven essays often further this disconnection by emphasizing form over content and by depersonalizing the relationship between writer and audience. By inviting students to mine their personal experiences, teachers can help students not only understand literatu Students often see little connection between their school lives and the lives they lead outside of school. Thesis-driven essays often further this disconnection by emphasizing form over content and by depersonalizing the relationship between writer and audience. By inviting students to mine their personal experiences, teachers can help students not only understand literature better, but also begin to make story-sense out of their own lives. All writing (and all reading) is ultimately autobiographical. In _This Time It's Personal_, John S. O'Connor encourages us to care as deeply about the texts of our students' personal lives as we do the lives of literary characters and the subject matter we teach in all classes. Rather than allow students to view school passively, as mere consumers of other people's stories, we need to explicitly invite students into the larger community of storytellers. This book features a diverse range of creative nonfiction writing assignments with authentic audiences--including writer's autobiography; writing about place; memoirs; op-ed essays; blogs; oral histories--and many vibrant examples of student writing.


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Students often see little connection between their school lives and the lives they lead outside of school. Thesis-driven essays often further this disconnection by emphasizing form over content and by depersonalizing the relationship between writer and audience. By inviting students to mine their personal experiences, teachers can help students not only understand literatu Students often see little connection between their school lives and the lives they lead outside of school. Thesis-driven essays often further this disconnection by emphasizing form over content and by depersonalizing the relationship between writer and audience. By inviting students to mine their personal experiences, teachers can help students not only understand literature better, but also begin to make story-sense out of their own lives. All writing (and all reading) is ultimately autobiographical. In _This Time It's Personal_, John S. O'Connor encourages us to care as deeply about the texts of our students' personal lives as we do the lives of literary characters and the subject matter we teach in all classes. Rather than allow students to view school passively, as mere consumers of other people's stories, we need to explicitly invite students into the larger community of storytellers. This book features a diverse range of creative nonfiction writing assignments with authentic audiences--including writer's autobiography; writing about place; memoirs; op-ed essays; blogs; oral histories--and many vibrant examples of student writing.

34 review for This Time It's Personal: Teaching Creative Nonfiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    What I like: I'm very much in tune with O'Connor's philosophy and with his advocacy of personalized writing over thesis-based argument writing. I see its merits and its value to kids. I like, too, his choice in assignments. You could base a year's worth of writing assignments on all or some of his ideas and he conveniently supplies the prompts. The assignments are as follows: * A Writer's Autobiography * Essays about Place * Haibuns (and no, I had never heard of these before, hard of hearing as I a What I like: I'm very much in tune with O'Connor's philosophy and with his advocacy of personalized writing over thesis-based argument writing. I see its merits and its value to kids. I like, too, his choice in assignments. You could base a year's worth of writing assignments on all or some of his ideas and he conveniently supplies the prompts. The assignments are as follows: * A Writer's Autobiography * Essays about Place * Haibuns (and no, I had never heard of these before, hard of hearing as I am) * Memoir * Op-Ed Essays * Writing about Inexact and Irresponsible Language (gee, do you think there's enough material for this?) * Blog Entries That Explore the World (Current Topics) * Oral Histories or Interview Essays * Exploratory Essays * Reflections on Education What I dislike: Much as I loved the assignments and the justifications, I thought that the book was top-heavy with student examples. Some professional ones are provided, but much fewer -- and many are just alluded to. But whole swaths of pages are taken up with examples from O'Connor's classes. Without them, this just-over-200 pager would never had made it. Bottom line: Some good ideas for writing assignments, including prompts and examples you can share with your class.

  2. 5 out of 5

    University of Chicago Magazine

    John S. O'Connor Author From our pages (Jan–Feb/12): "Former Lab Schools teacher John S. O'Connor, named a 2007 Golden Apple Teacher of Distinction, aims to connect high-school and college students with their lessons by having them write about what they know: their own lives. He includes creative-nonfiction writing assignments, such as op-ed essays, autobiographies, and blogs, as well as sample student responses." John S. O'Connor Author From our pages (Jan–Feb/12): "Former Lab Schools teacher John S. O'Connor, named a 2007 Golden Apple Teacher of Distinction, aims to connect high-school and college students with their lessons by having them write about what they know: their own lives. He includes creative-nonfiction writing assignments, such as op-ed essays, autobiographies, and blogs, as well as sample student responses."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ted Fabiano

  4. 5 out of 5

    Brandi Hughes

  5. 5 out of 5

    Min

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

  7. 5 out of 5

    Curt Bobbitt

  8. 4 out of 5

    Maureen Fitzpatrick

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    Katherine

  10. 4 out of 5

    Pam Fischer

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jen Baker

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    Chris Oetter

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    Terry

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    Temoca

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    Kara

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    Kathy

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    Laura M.

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    Colleen Coyne

  20. 5 out of 5

    NWA Writing Project

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

  22. 4 out of 5

    Becky

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

  24. 4 out of 5

    Laura M.

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    Carrie

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    Paul

  27. 5 out of 5

    C.w. Second

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

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    Lakin

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tamala Szyman

  31. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

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    Daniel Nissani

  33. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

  34. 4 out of 5

    Charles Ellenbogen

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