About This Site

Credit for work on this site is given to  Jonna Schwartz, English teacher and Department Co-Chair of the Helena High School English Department, in Helena, Montana, who presented in August of 2015 a workshop for English teachers titled  "TEACHING & USING THE MODES OF WRITING IN MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOL CLASSROOMS."

The materials and ideas presented here are intended for the use and benefit of teachers of English and other disciplines.

WHAT ARE THE MODES?     (writingforcollege.org)

"A rhetorical mode is a strategy -- a way or method of presenting a subject -- through writing or speech. Some of the better known rhetorical modes are, for example, "argument" and "cause and effect." There are literally dozens, perhaps hundreds, of strategies or methods for presenting subjects; however, the modes are among the most basic. Instructors have used rhetorical modes to teach writing or public speaking since ancient Greek times over two thousand years ago, perhaps longer. Knowing the modes can help us understand the organization -- the methodology -- of most kinds of writings or other presentation."

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A MODES-BASED WRITING PROGRAM ?       (Don Pogreba)

       Better vertical instruction from grade 9 through grade 12

       Repetition to mastery and mastery of two modes per year

       More opportunities for cross-curricular collaboration

       Evaluation frameworks that are easier for parents and students to understand

       Common writing instruction among teachers at grade level

       Reaching a wider range of student interests and goals 

WHAT DO THE MONTANA COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS SAY ABOUT WRITING FORMS?

The Montana Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts state “consistent with NAEP, the overwhelming focus of writing throughout high school should be on arguments and informative/explanatory texts” (5).  

                 “English Language Arts & Literacy. “MCCS.  Montana Office of Public Instruction. Web. 30 Aug. 2015.

See this table for NAEP's suggested forms of writing requirements, cited by the MCCS.


HOW DOES THE WRITING CURRICULUM OF THE ENGLISH DEPARTMENTS IN HELENA SCHOOL DISTRICT #1 INTEGRATE THE MODES?

At each level informative (expository) modes are required. See the chart below, with links to on-going scope and sequence work for more specifics.

 9th Grade
 10th Grade
 11th Grade
 12th Grade
 Cause and Effect
 Exemplification Classification / Division
 Definition
 Process Analysis
              a. instruction
              b. explanation
 Compare/Contrast Argumentation Analysis
HSD Scope and Sequence Document
 HSD Scope and Sequence Document
  HSD Scope and Sequence Document
 HHS Scope and Sequence Document
Writing Sequence

The Helena #1 School District adheres to a program of Significant Writing, supporting the writing process.  The Helena High School Statement of Significant Writing provides the following description:

“By balancing and linking the instruction of literature with the instruction of writing, this program requires direct instruction in the writing process and allows for a variety of evaluative assessments, including portfolios, conferencing, peer-editing experiences, and formal responses by the teacher. Students learn to use language creatively and effectively by pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, evaluating, and publishing their own writing and the writing of their peers. Students practice the components of writing, including organization, development, mechanics, grammar, and usage.

Developing writing voices of their own, students write frequently for a variety of audiences and purposes, including at least two major compositions each quarter. A variety of writing models is included.”

HOW DOES THE SIGNIFICANT WRITING PROGRAM PROVIDE FOR INSTRUCTION IN THE MODES?

The required eight Significant writings at each level includes writings in the two required modes to be taught twice a year, while the other four Significant writings are chosen by the teacher and may come from any of the modes. A further consideration for each teacher is providing the 40% of writings that are argumentative (which may be presented with a variety of modes), 40% which are informative or explanatory (again, which may be presented through a variety of modes), and 20% narrative.


WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THIS SITE?

For each of the modes, find an outline page, sample prompts, and works cited.  In addition, links to helpful sites are included.


 
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Jean O'Connor,
Oct 1, 2015, 9:41 AM