Thoughtful Learning Blog

Thoughtful Learning Blog

The Thoughtful Learning blog features articles about English language arts, 21st century skills, and social-emotional learning. Insights come from the teachers, writers, and developers at Thoughtful Learning, who have been creating top-notch instructional materials for more than 40 years.

In previous posts, I’ve argued that clear, straightforward language in writing is best. When you have something to say, presenting it in transparent language puts the focus on the content itself, allowing it to achieve its best effect. Contrariwise (if you’ll forgive my ironic vernacular) a person who employs elevated diction to articulate his or her reflections is quite often endeavoring to camouflage a poverty of substance.

Over the past weeks, our editorial staff has been reading and discussing excerpts from several classic books about teaching writing, including so far Peter Elbow’s Writing Without Teachers, Ken Macrorie’s Writing to Be Read, Donald Murray’s Learning by Teaching, William Zinsser’s On Writing Well, James Moffett and Betty Jane Wagner’s Student-Centered Language Arts, Nancie Atwell’s second edition of In the Middle, and Donald Graves' Writing: Teaching and Children at Work.

“The narrative is the first story, the primal story, from which all others come. It is your story.” These thoughts by writer John Rouse speak clearly to the importance of narrative writing. I share them because I, too, feel that narrative writing is a valuable or, dare I say, the most important element in an effective writing program.