Throughout the semester I've fed Sonya Huber some of the reactions my students have had from weekly readings, but this week I went Jack Sparrow, as I typically do on arrrgh-ument night. After we debated cats, dogs, dinosaurs or no pets (EVER!) and played a few rounds of Zobmondo, we drew from Gallagher and highlighted the importance of having five bulleted reasons for every one of the arrrghhh-uments we wish to make.
Of course, we also listed pet-peeves, debated reasons for those, viewed political cartoons, and read Op-Eds to get a feel for the ways arguments work in Western society. My exit-slip, however, was for students to argue whether or not I should keep Sonya Huber's Voice First: A Writer's Manifesto in future iterations of this course. I was hoping for debate, but the battle was one-sided. These middle-grade, high school, and English-language learning teachers unanimously argued that, "Yes. Sonya Huber's Voice First belongs in future renditions of a graduate on teaching writing.
The are some of the bulleted points they made (condensed for purposes of this post):
- Voice First is accessible, personal, relatable, and relevant (easy to read)
- Voice First challenges writing conventions in the best way
- The language in Voice First is poetic and infused with raw vulnerability
- Voice First contains the most brilliant insights
- Voice First guides writers toward the discovery and (re)discovery of their own voice(s).
- The content is relevant in Voice First
- Sonya Hubers’s stories are intriguing – she gives multiple experiences to make her case
- All the strategies (‘try this’ activities) in Voice First can be modified for every grade level
- The writing activities are abundant and useful in Voice First
- Sonya Huber opened my eyes to the importance of considering audiences for particular voices
- Voice First is brilliantly laid out, logical, and smooth. It was like rising a friend each week
- As I read Voice First, I realized I was instantly becoming a better writer
- Chapters in Voice First are short, with great references that are perfect for teachers
- Love Sonya Huber's asset-first, positive attitude towards teaching writers. We all can write!
- The best teachers don't inhibit or censor, but allow writers to go in their own direction through choice.
- A great teacher helps to refocus students towards a successful written outcome through mentoring.
- A teacher needs to motivate youth through variation and excitement.
- Student-interest should be paramount to the genres we expect them to write.
- Teachers should encourage purposeful, meaningful, real-world writing opportunities, and
- Voice First. Keep assigning Huber!