It might be a character, an event in your life, a setting or an observation.
Have a suggestion to improve this page? To leave a general comment about our Web site, please click here Share this page with your network. Reading, Writing, and Recidivism: There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you. Zora Neale Hurston Introduction In the last few months, several of my former high school students have made the news: I have spent most of the last decade of my teaching career in alternative schools which specialize in working with students who are considered at-risk because they have not been academically or socially successful, or both, in their home schools.
The behaviors and circumstances that prevent their success range from chronic absences, poverty, and parenthood to substance abuse and criminal behaviors. This coming year, though, will be my first year teaching students who are almost exclusively at school to meet a parole requirement.
Criminality is their commonality. What journey does a seventeen-year-old take to get to this place?
Almost always, the journey involves trauma, whether a single debilitating event or a chronic history of it. It may have been a natural disaster—I've taught several refugees from Hurricane Katrina—or abuse, whether verbal, physical, or sexual. It turns out that the courthouse shooter's brother had been fatally shot by police in an altercation that developed when they were questioning him about someone else.
This had happened a few months before he showed up in my classroom, and the effects of his grief in his behavior were already apparent. Two of my students, having met several years before at a camp for children of parents in prison, became reacquainted in my classroom, dated for a year, and together hairs vignette writing assignment topics a child who died within a few months after suffocating while sleeping in their bed.
Trauma on top of trauma. I set out to find out how this trauma manifested itself in my classroom, and, as an English teacher, what I could do about it. I found clear connections among recidivism, past traumatic experience, and literacy deficits.
The next step was to find out how I might address the effects of these connections. I discovered that a course of writing therapy coupled with literary instruction could be an antidote. I propose that, in classrooms with any significant number of at-risk students, therapeutic writing be a prescribed practice, especially paired with sound reading instruction.
It will be in mine.
In fact, Jeffrey Berman says, "It may be far riskier not to allow our students to write about their fears and conflicts. As teachers, this matters to us because the existence of trauma inhibits the ability to process, maintain, and use academic learning.
For example, these "poor decisions" have come in the form of substance abuse and avoidance of birth control, both of which can lead to a chain of difficult decisions and far-reaching consequences, like addiction, unplanned parenthood, or abortion.
Post-Katrina, teachers in New Orleans reported "an intellectual passivity, difficulty with maintaining in-depth study, a numbness to learning, difficulty with acquiring information, prone to argument and more physical violence, and a need for more personal affirmation and hope.
These destructive behaviors are commonly accompanied by another trait: So while traumatic experiences influence academic performance, conversely, Katsiyannis and his team explain that there is a direct correlation between low academic performance and incarceration and recidivism rates.
This unit will encourage healing writing practices while teaching specific English Language Arts objectives intended to increase literacy and writing skills. It should be noted that many contemporary high schools, especially in high-poverty or inner city situations, encounter similar students; they just do not have criminal records or have not found their way into concentrated groups or alternative education environments.
All or parts of this unit would be appropriate for any students facing these realities.
Works by MacCurdy and James Pennebaker make clear the connections between trauma and the writing process as a means of healing.
Most memories that we accrue over the course of a day fit into an existing schema with cumulative, collective meaning. Many bits of data are released and even forgotten because they are not necessary for meaning. Traumatic memories are imagistic. We remember pictures and sensory experiences because they are too overwhelming to fit into the existing schema.
Adrenaline surges of a fight-or-flight response help to imprint these sensory images, ensuring that we'll remember the danger if we encounter it again in the future.
Edna Fox, a clinical psychologist, had female rape victims rewrite their narratives over and over in detail. Subsequent retellings showed increasingly reduced symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Along the way, students will familiarize themselves and become adept at using all stages of the writing process, from pre-writing in the form of journals and other selective prompts to mechanical editing.
They will have read and studied multiple examples of vignettes and memoir and learned from the process of emulation and analysis, thereby increasing skills in reading and writing and addressing the risk of recidivism through academic and literacy empowerment.
As a result of purposeful therapeutic writing practices, our first anticipated non-cognitive outcome is to keep students from re-offending. Finally, as I encourage students to look into the stories and cultural influences in their lives, they should improve their ability to understand how these influences have shaped who they are.
Context School Background My school, which meets a primary parole requirement, was created to serve adjudicated youth.1 The House on Kresson Road or better known by its alias, The House on Mango Street Vignette Writing Write your own book of vignettes that includes sensory details and figurative language (similes, metaphors, personification).
Write ten vignettes in the style of Sandra Cisneros. Choose from the following vignette topics to write about, or propose your own spinoffs of The House on Mango Street.
“Hairs” (p. 6 – 7) Modeling Assignment. Writing Situation: In the vignette “Hairs,” Sandra Cisneros reveals a lot about the narrator’s family, especially her mother, through a discussion of one physical trait: hair.
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The House on Mango Street Vignette Writing (assignment adapted from Suzanne Gabe, Grossmont High School) Using " one true sentence " and " show not tell " techniques, include sensory details and figurative language (similes, metaphors, personification), .
The House on Mango Street Vignette Series – 65 points DUE DATE: TUESDAY 11/20 (B Block) OR WEDNESDAY 11/21 (A/C/D Blocks) ASSIGNMENT: Write a collection of six vignettes about your personal experience in the style of Sandra Cisneros.
The House on Mango Street Final Test The house on mango street essay topics The House on Mango Street Essay Topics & Writing Assignments Sandra Cisneros This set of Lesson Plans consists of approximately pages of tests, essay.