John’s thirty years of classroom experience and interest in brain-based learning led to the development of an active learning approach to sentence management skills (grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, sentence variety/fluency, cohesion). This approach uniquely connects requirements for written English to what students already know about spoken English. Rather than memorizing arcane rules and lists, students (and teachers) are taught how to query their existing knowledge of English, areas he refers to as Wizards: Grammar Wizards, Sentence Wizards, Rhetorical Wizards, and Word Wizards. Students are actively involved in discovering how things work through guided analyses of what they already know subconsciously about English. John’s workshops are filled with dynamic, research-based, classroom-tested techniques and activities that provide participants with fresh, very effective ways to develop writing skills while having fun—yes, fun—with language.
View John Crow's Resume/Vita, Publications, and Workshops.
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Listen to John in this podcast as he talks about brain-based writing workshops.
- Brain-Based Grammar
- Brain-Based Writing Applications
- Brain-Based Sentence Fluency
- Brain-Based Vocabulary Acquisition
Learning to Write for Readers: Using Brain-Based Strategies
We begin by demonstrating why a brain-based approach to grammar instruction is effective, while traditional grammar instruction is not. Participants work together, step-by-step, to learn how to create inquiry-based mini-lessons and use Grammar Wizard Tests, i.e., ways to resolve sentence-level issues by querying one's existing knowledge of English.
Brain-Based Writing Applications
A follow-up to the Brain-Based Grammar workshop, this session allows participants to examine many of the grammatical devices that good writers use to create sentence variety--a vital component of a mature and sophisticated style. We derive inquiry-based analyses of these devices, demonstrate how to raise student awareness with hands-on activities, and provide suggestions for spiraling the concepts and for providing meaningful elaboration. We also cover things to do (and things not to do) when dealing with “non-standard” English dialects in the composition classroom.
Brain-Based Sentence Fluency
Well crafted sentences that vary in structure and length throughout an essay create the impression of stylistic maturity. Students already know these structures: when they see them in written material, they process them effortlessly. When they write, however, they either do not think of using them or they are not quite certain about how or when to produce the structures. Using research into how professional authors write as a basis, this half-day workshop examines many of these structures in a simple, straight-forward, brain-friendly manner, showing participants how to introduce them into their curriculum and encourage their use in student writing.
Brain-Based Vocabulary Acquisition
Participants are exposed to the astounding amount of information that one knows when one knows a word. Using this knowledge as a background, we explore why traditional vocabulary fails and develop a more natural—and, therefore, more effective—approach to the explicit teaching of vocabulary. We demonstrate many hands-on techniques and activities designed to facilitate long-term retention of new words.