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On the Value of the Right Word - Our 2.25.19 Update

On the value of the right word…

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” 

- Mark Twain

This weeks quote makes me reflect on the successful series of workshops we just concluded. Often we approach teaching students writing with a “one and done” attitude - and our students often reflect that same attitude. Let me invite you to be a bit more intentional with your next in-class writing activity.

One of our participants talked about an exercise he does with his students at the very beginning of their time together. He has his students take a piece of paper, crumple it up, and then turn the paper over and write on it perpendicular to the lines. By already having established the paper as “trash,” students don’t feel the same sense of pressure to have their writing be perfect.

The strategies we share this week have to do with that revision process. One Sentence, Revised is a strategy that is useful for helping students to build depth of understanding - and can be equally useful for revising and refining a thesis or claim. Why This Word puts the focus on one specific word, and helps a student get from the “almost right word” to the “right word.”

As always, we welcome your feedback and hope you find these and other strategies useful!

Best regards,


Paul B. McHenry, Ph.D.
Managing Partner, The Scolaris Group

Paul McHenry