Writing Samples

 

Collected below are passages I’ve written that illustrate my ability to craft clear and transparent prose to reach a range of audiences based on the task at hand.

 

OP-ED Writing

These days acronyms are everywhere you look. There are those that show up on social media, like LOL, ICYMI, IMHO, and my favorite, ELI5 (Explain Like I’m Five). There are ones that started in the military but moved into common parlance, like AWOL, SWAT, and even FUBAR. Medical diagnoses have been reduced to letters: ADHD, HIV, SIDS. Some of you reading might work in HR or have an MBA; others suffer from PSTD or attend AA. Who hasn’t LOL or tuned into ESPN or been told do to something ASAP?

In the religious world we have our acronyms as well: KJB, VBS, and the ubiquitous WWJD. There are useful shorthand acronyms for certain religious groups: Mormons are members of the LDS, and AME rolls off the tongue far easier than the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Around the holidays CMEs make their appearance as well—as in those who go to church only on Christmas, Mother’s Day and Easter. I know some regular churchgoers who even won’t attend on Easter because the CMEs take all of the seats!

But there’s another group I’ve been thinking about as Easter approaches: SBNRs, or Spiritual But Not Religious. People in this camp share a similar outlook with their religious brethren, seeing the world through a lens of “there must be something bigger than me out there” but don’t find it sitting in a pew. They feel the connectedness of the secular and transcendent worlds without needing “organized religion” to facilitate the experience.

Is Easter to an SBNR nothing other than eggs and chocolate bunnies? Is there nothing that the most sacred day on the Christian calendar has to offer them? Is there a deeper meaning to Easter that speaks to us all, religious or not?…

Blog Writing

If there’s one rap against reading programs these days, it’s that while they do a great job teaching students how to read, they forget that what students read is just as important. After all, if students don’t care about what they are reading, then what’s the motivation for them to learn how to read? The “solution” to this problem has been to throw at students a variety of texts—all admittedly interesting in their own right—yet hardly adding up to a coherent body of knowledge. In short, it’s a widely held assumption that a chaotic reading list is the price to pay for a high quality reading program that uses authentic texts.

Core Knowledge challenges this assumption head on and demonstrates that you can have it all—a high quality research-based reading program that conveys a systematic body of knowledge worth knowing. Their calling card is a fully integrated sequence of study that spans the grades. By carefully planning what will be learned both within a year and across the years, student understanding of the material is reinforced and deepens over time.

For example, instead of just immersing students in a unit on the exploration of the New World, students first learn about the social and political conditions in Europe that prompted such journeys. In another instance students in earlier grades examine the role the heart plays in circulation, and then build on that understanding later when discovering how the lungs exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide in blood…

 

 

Non-Fiction Writing

Assessment writing

Do you really want to know the real story behind Nixon’s famous Checkers speech? Because if you really want to understand why so many people said “I like Ike” at the ballot booth in 1952, we need to step back and take stock of America on the eve of the election. In an earlier letter about Truman’s defeat of Dewey I included an explanation of how the different wings of the Democratic Party hashed it out in the run up to the 1948 election. Well, the Republicans did the same thing in ‘52.

Now as you know political parties are always having these debates, but these mid-century ones are particularly illuminating for the budding historian. To really grasp the import of the Checkers speech means understanding the new direction the Republican party was taking at this time. And it turns out the best way to do that is to unpack the shorthand the Grand Old Party was using as their campaign slogan—K1C2—otherwise known as Korea, Communism, and Corruption.

Let’s take these points in reverse order, starting with the charge of corruption the Republicans were leveling at the Democrats. In the lifetimes of many Americans, there had always been a Democratic President—first the indomitable FDR, whose New Deal was seen by many to have lifted America out of the Great Depression, and who guided the country to victory in WWII—and following him the straight shooter Harry Truman, whose no excuses approach to governing was epitomized by the phrase “The buck stops here”…