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Monday, August 29, 2011

WRITING STUFF FOR BIG AND LITTLE KIDS 5: EDUCATION ESSAYS FOR LOCAL PAPER – “Education: Easy Target”, “Hosterman Lands on the Moon”, “Parent Support”

In these articles (about once a month on the third or fourth Monday), I’ll be sharing with you what I’ve learned in the past fifteen years from first trying to get short stories and articles published in the non-adult market to publishing pretty much whenever I submit a short story, article or essay to a non-adult market. I’m going to do this chronologically so that those of you who are beginning your journey can learn what I did as I did. This will also tend to make me more coherent as I cast back to those first days – and I won’t make assumptions about what I did and didn’t know…

Decades of experience as a teacher plus having learned the craft of writing allowed me to stand in for Guest Editorials for a season.

I’ve been reading the “local” newspaper, The Sun Post for 30 or so years. It’s always been a good paper and a sharp contrast between the big city STAR TRIBUNE and PIONEER press. Their take on the murder, mayhem and the collapse of Government As We Know It and/or Want It To Be has always been behind stories on schools, community people, politics for the GOOD of the city and developments and at times even divisions within the community over various issues both serious and frivolous.

I have been the subject of more than one interview. It may be that that interview opened the door for me to submit my writing to this market.

I’ve been a teacher for 31 years. I’ve done stints in public middle school and high school; private schools; charter schools and we have home schooled. I have been the science teacher for special education classrooms, English Language Learner classrooms, standard classrooms, and International Baccalaureate – Middle Years Program/Honors classrooms. I was at one time certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Early Adolescent Generalist. I have a good handle on the education scene, at least from the classroom side.

I thought I might be qualified to comment on the state of education in the nation, the state and on the local scene. The editors felt I was as well and my writing was presented as a Guest Editorial several times.

I didn’t get any cash for the work, except for once when I wrote an article about sending a group of my students on a mock-Lunar voyage. That time I got $30 for the piece.

As the years passed, the newspaper changed and they no longer include guest editorials nor do they do much with letters-to-the-editor except in support of this or that politician. Their editorials are mostly written by staff now. But the experience taught me how to write a story of a different type – using the “inverted pyramid” of journalism fame in which you make your point with its supporting evidence immediately and then allow the reader to go on their merry way without bothering to read any details. You DO however, have to provide the details in an entertaining style, but you still have to be concise and stop as soon as you’ve made your point.

Which is what I’m going to do now.

Image: http://asset3.learnhub.com/lesson/pages/7605/photos/22761-medium.jpg

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