Tag Archives: writing process

#DigiLitSunday: Digital Writing


digilitCheck out additional #DigiLit Sunday posts with Margaret Simon here.

 

How does a post come to fruition?

Here’s an inside look at the content and the process for today’s post.

What’s the focus?

margaret.JPG

Where did my idea come from?

My idea was to tell how a post originated from one idea/ one tour during my recent trip to Rome. It was a topic that I briefly addressed two weeks ago (while in Rome) under the topic of Motivation here.

Source?

My “S-Notes” on my phone which I used frequently on this trip.

s notes.png

But WHAT am I going to write about the catacombs?

This is the stage where I pour a cup a coffee, add categories and tags, go for a walk with Mya, because sometimes the “ideas” actually work themselves out in my head. I draft in my head multiple times before I begin to put fingers to the keyboard.

I briefly addressed this topic in an earlier post.  I thought I was done writing about it.  But my brain won’t let go.  I bought books at the gift shop.  Books . . . books that I am currently reading . . . curious about the “bits and pieces” that I learned while traveling and now want to add to my knowledge.

Does that ever happen to you?

Google’s response to the word “catacomb” was that they were present in London, Paris and Rome.  Many locations, many purposes, but my connection to “world civilizations” was in Rome.  “Rome Catacombs” led me to some interesting sources including National Geographic and the Vatican.  The Vatican source seemed the most promising as the National Geographic source had already pointed out that the Vatican owned all of the Christian Catacombs (numbering 40 known ones at this time).

(Yes, I went to google first with “Catacombs”, then “Roman Catacombs” and then “Calixtus Catacombs”.)

What specific information was I looking for?

I wanted to know more about “deacon Calixtus, who would later become pope (217-222), the task of supervising the cemetery of the Appian Way, where the most important pontiffs of the third century would be buried.” (Source: Vatican)

Our tour began with story boards and I was hooked.

20160901_142918.jpg

Picture taken of tour guide and story board. 09.01.16  fgmcveigh

Our guide was amazing.  The stories were riveting.  And now I’m embroiled in learning more about the catacombs. Sixteen different popes were buried in this set of catacombs along with 50 martyrs.  But this was also the burial place for the common persons during the second through fourth centuries.  The oldest tombs are those in the top levels as later tombs were dug below those previously interred.

What was the most interesting story for me?

The story of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music, who was martyred and who is also revered as an “incorrupt” saint.  Incorruptibility is a Roman Catholic belief that divine intervention allows some human bodies (specifically saints) to avoid the normal process of decomposition after death as a sign of their holiness.

st-cecilia

PROCESS REFLECTION:

Today, once I had settled on my topic, The Catacombs of Callisto, I drafted. I did not revise.  I did do some minor editing – especially checking my quotation marks.  I also used the spell check embedded in WordPress.

What’s your digital writing process?  

Is it EXACTLY like your handwritten process?

Draft to publication:  1 hour and 42 minutes (I was lost in pictures for a bit.)

 

 

 

#TCRWP Writing: Takeaways Day 3


Jack Gantos was the featured keynote today during the TCRWP June 2016 Writing Institute. And he ended with

See the stories and be the person who can write the story.

          If they  can write them, YOU can write them, too!!!

What a challenge!  

If they (the students in your classrooms / your buildings) can write them,

YOU (all the adults in the auditorium – teachers, coaches, administrators) can write them (the stories), too!!!

Do you write?

Do you write on a regular basis?

The questions above were designed intentionally for you to think about your writerly life.  How do your students know that you are a writer?  Do you demonstrate your own writing?  Do you use your own writing in your explanations?   How do you “DO” these focused rewrites as Jack Gantos named them?  How do you teach them?

Screenshot 2016-06-23 05.32.51.png

Closing Keynote

Jack Gantos

The Writer’s Journal:  Content, Structure, Rewrites = Success

Takeaways:

  1. Elements from picture books are the SAME elements you find in short stories and that you will also use in setting up your writing journal so you can’t say, “Nothing interesting happens to you!” JG
  2. Your job when you sit down to write is to press the go button; you want to get words on the paper! JG
  3. Jack’s writing process:  2 hours 1st draft writing;  2 hours 2nd draft writing and then candy = 2 hours of reading! Another 2 hours of work after the scheduled reading. JG
  4. Don’t wait to read until the end of the day when you are too tired to remember what you read!
  5. If stop at physical ending, you will miss the emotional ending – what connects to the reader . . .JG

What Methods Do We Use with Mentor Texts?

Today, I heard Celena, Colleen, and Emily all talk the same language/consistent message about the instructional methods used with mentor texts depending on the purpose/needs of your students.

Demonstration Writing – How to do it step by step

  • Has voice over of “how to do it”
  • Might begin with a frame
  • Shared writing
  • Zero shame in using demonstration writing from the  Units of Study IF it fits!
  • Be aware that not all pieces work as well as others!

Explanation / Example

  • Here’s the text and the explanation
  • Example of how to take mentor text and put it into action
  • Not step by step

Inquiry (Colleen Cruz details)

  • Powerful in terms of agency and independence
  • Learning theory – What student discover on own sticks more!
  • Not everything is best taught with inquiry
    • Sometimes there is content you need to know
    • “Putting your hand in hot oven will burn it – don’t need to learn from inquiry
    • That would be irresponsible
    • No way to discover strategies – kids will not find boxes and bullets on their own
  • Don’t use inquiry if only ONE right answer = allow differences!!
  • 3 favorite things to teach during Inquiry
    • Craft
    • Structure
    • Conventions
  • Inquiry is good for ALL kids!

Centers (Emily)

  • Develop task cards
  • Combine inquiry with structure/small groups
  • Include discussion as rehearsal

Takeaways for Methods of Instruction:

  1. There is no one method of instruction that works ALL the time for all students!
  2. Match your Method of Instruction with the needs of your students.
  3. Check your methods for when you PLANFULLY teach/provide for “transfer work”.
  4. Consider when students are able to “Do the work themselves”.
  5. Always consider: “Would the students be better off writing?” Is “THIS” teacher talk time really more important than student writing time?

 

How do we demonstrate process with mentor texts?

I also heard Celena, Collen, and Emily talk about both the need for as well as how to demonstrate process with mentor texts.  This seems easiest with teacher or student texts. But you can also go to Melissa Stewart’s website for a behind the scenes look at the process involved in writing No Monkeys, No Chocolate here.  That book was not written overnight!

In Celena’s session today, we actually worked on making our own process mentor texts with a plan for writing, first draft, first draft with some revisions, and draft fancied up!

Takeaways for demonstrating process:

  1. Physical revision (flaps, post-its, cross-outs, different colored ink) clearly shows that revision has occurred.
  2. Having “process” pieces that literally show the progression of work is helpful for revision conferences.
  3. Process pieces that show revision – at all stages of the writing process – keep the focus on continual rereading and revision.
  4.  You need clear expectations for student writing – for yourself as the teacher and also for your students.
  5. You need a vision for your student writing.

What do you see as emerging themes for the week?

Day 1 link

Day 2 link

What have you learned this week?

(Internet difficulties again interfered with pictures and the structure of this piece!)

 

For further reading, writing, response, or reflection:

Jack Gantos

Remodeling the Workshop, Lucy Calkins on Writing Instruction Today

 Takeaways from TCRWP Writing Institute 2016  – Teachers and Students Lifelong Learners

TC Reading and Writing Project on Vimeo – 59 videos 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#SOL16: March Challenge Day 22 – Tech and Writing


 

Session # 3:  Technology Tools, Tips and Apps to Make Your Writing Workshop Cutting Edge  with Cornelius Minor

As we settled in to our seats In Milbank Chapel, Cornelius (AKA @MisterMinor) had these three questions on the screen for us to talk about with a person near us.

  • What do you want to do in terms of workshop?
  • What do you hope for in terms of “digital literacy”?
  • What do you need to learn today to get you there?

We had not even begun and Cornelius had us thinking about our goals and purposes for the session as well as “TALKING” and “doing the work”!  I was quite happy as I knew I was in the “right place”today!

Cornelius described himself as “a bit of a tinkerer” as he promised us cool techniques to blow up our writers workshop.  That is an understatement as Cornelius has a great deal of knowledge about technology and always keeps his work practical!

As you read this post consider:

What are you already doing?

What could you add?

What could you do – more efficiently or effectively with technology?

Cornelius reminded us that the writing process is everything.  Tech in the past has ranged from a hammer and a chisel to reed and papyrus.  We have more options if we consider his definition of tech – “any device that helps me do my work better”.  (As I sit here with four devices open, I’m wondering about the “do my work better” part as tech has again failed me this morning, but more about that later!)  And to illustrate his point, Cornelius used the writing process as his organizing framework for his presentation!

Where do we begin?

  1. Prewriting or collection

Simple, begin with talk.  We were to find someone who was not our partner.  Ah, yes, the dreaded workshop facilitator move of, “Get up out of your seat and go talk to someone somewhere else in the room!”  Then we were talk to that person about where we were from and how we traveled to TCRWP.  We returned to our original seat mate partner and told the story that our “new friend” had shared.

a. Talk to someone outside your circle  – Tell that story

b. Find a picture on your device (30 seconds) – Tell the story of that picture

What if students don’t have a picture?   Send a device home so they students can take a picture and tell a story. Goal:  Use technology to foster experiences, the source of narratives, so that talk can lead to writing!

Content Area Idea Collections:  We watched “Climate Change with Bill Nye 101” and then used Today’s Meet to “collect ideas from all the participants in the room.  When you need ideas in response to something, consider “Today’s Meet” or even a common google document to collect those ideas.  Or for additional ideas, find an expert in your community and face time with them so you bring video into the classroom and expand the world of your students!

a. Today’s Meet – generate ideas in class

b. Face time – Bring in expert from outside

How can you increase production before drafting?

2. Rehearsal

Choice . . .

Establish a personal help desk . . .

Students doing the work . . .

Increasing student agency because students are doing the work . . .

Cornelius called this the “hustle plan” . . . setting up students with their own personal help desk.  Who are the three people who can help you when you are stuck?  This list cannot include your teacher or your parents?  Who would your three be?

A coach?

A friend?

A brother or sister of a friend?

  • Having a list of three people to go to for support and then setting up those lines!   (Using phone to call and ask if the person would be willing to help when stuck!)      Just think about who will be doing the work here . . . who is already building their              own PLN?

What about drafting?

3. Drafting

Use the camera on your device, any device, to tell your story.  That may have been your rehearsal, but now it can also be a part of your drafting process.  Before you begin drafting, think about the structure of your piece.  Use the structure to help you tell your story!

text structures

a. record your draft (audio or video)

b. consider the structure while drafting

This works for all ages.  Here is a video of a kindergarten student that Melanie Meehan blogged about in January of 2015.  ANYONE can do this.  No more “I don’t know what to say.”

How can technology support Revision?

4. Revision

Up until this stage, all of the participants had been using “tools” that came with their device:  camera, audio record or video record.  (Although some of us are less familiar with those features than our students!)

An app to help with revision is “Skitch”.  You can take a picture and then write, type or draw on top of that digital picture. Partners working on revision could actually annotate the text together!

Use the app skitch to share text for revision and then consider multiple ways to revise – word, phrase, sentence, or paragraph levels.  Where could a graphic be helpful?

And the most important part of the writing process?

5. Celebration

Celebration is the most important part of the writing process! (according to Cornelius)  We have data from year after year that tells us that if the teacher is the only audience, kids don’t always write well!  “Put the writing where the people are! Laundromat, coffee shop! Not just class blog. Nickelodeon. Teen magazines.”

Find real audiences for students outside your classroom!

Our final To Think About from Cornelius:

“Analogue writing is monologue; digital writing is dialogue.”

What’s your purpose for student writing?

How would we know?

And what are you going to change, add or delete from your current writing process work?

(I didn’t forget about those questions at the top of of the blog post.  How can you re-energize your writing workshop for the final months of the school year?)


 

Process:

I shared my notes (in word) with my pc so I could return to using it now that I am back in Iowa.  Surprise! Surprise!  No menu bar in WordPress so I could not add a new post.  So odd!  Therefore, I continue to work on my personal Mac.  I copied my notes from Saturday into the draft. I considered my own purpose as I felt the writing process framework was the heart of this post and the part that I needed to process in order to explain it to colleagues. (Any errors in the retelling are all mine!)  My goal was to make this as doable as possible and yet also add text features to make it EASIER to find the main points in a reread of the text!  I was anxiousing – so much to do – time was running out – so all errors would definitely be mine!


 

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge so be ready to read DAILY posts!

 

 

#SOL16: March Challenge Day 17 -New Phone!


note four

I have a new phone . . .

because the battery kept wearing down.

Trips one, two, and three to the store

Until finally, “Do you just want to upgrade?”

I have a new phone . . .

and everything transfers with a quick “transfer app”.

But I can’t find Twitter or Voxer

And now nothing will download.

I have a new phone . . .

and it’s like begining anew.

Where do I find my grandson’s picture?

What about changing the screen saver?

I have a new phone . . .

and I spent an hour with the sales rep.

Watching, learning, and asking questions.

I have another hour scheduled for all my new worries.

I have a new phone . . .

Same model, just an upgrade.

Did my previous phone rule my life?

Or did I manage it competently?

I have a new phone . . .

I wish it worked the way I want it to . . .

I wish it worked the way I remember the old phone working . . .

I wish it wasn’t so complicated!

I kept my old phone . . .

If I plug it in – will it work?

Should I do a 1:1 match for apps to see if they are ALL present?

I have two phones – does even ONE work?

Is new technology always better?

How have you handled getting a new device?


Process:

Last night I was frustrated by the time I returned to my WORK computer (FIVE DEVICES later).  I was prepping files and devices for travel.  That meant updating email, twitter, voxer, etc. and I was totally frustrated when I didn’t get any REAL work done. My question to myself was “Why a new phone?” so I decided to answer that in this morning’s slice.  I decided that “I have a new phone . . .” would be the repeated line and I began drafting.  The lines literally wrote themselves straight through to these lines about process.  Ending with image, categories and tags.  Wowza! When I know the topic, the post writing is much quicker and flows from beginning to end!


slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge so be ready to read DAILY posts!

 

#SOL16: March Challenge Day 16 – Midpoint


midpoint

How is midpoint best represented?  Words?  Numbers?  Both?

In Google Images,  midpoint was shown on a line, on the side of a triangle, and graphed in many, many more formats.

Dictionary.com defines midpoint as:

“noun

  1. a point at or near the middle of, or equidistant from, both ends, as of aline:

the midpoint of a boundary.

2. a point in time halfway between the beginning and the end, as of aprocess, event,  or situation:

the midpoint of the negotiations.”

The second definition represents today – the midpoint of the March 2016 Slice of Life Challenge.

Did you make it?

Are you writing one slice per day and commenting on at least three slices per day?

How are you feeling about your writing?

Have you met your goals?

MIDPOINT

March – March is the month of the Slice of Life Challenge

Intensifies – The reading, writing, thinking muse takes over to guide and intensify my thinking.

Details – Writing long and strong about details generates more mentor texts for me.

Practice – I practice genre, styles and craft moves that are new to me.

Overcomes –  Fear is overcome with patience and pride in published posts.

Insecurities – . Doubts and insecurities are replaced with confidence and beginning seeds of competence.

Notes – Records and notes the process to consider to reflect my processes.

Time – Eking out precious moments of time to polish, praise, and practice writing, conferring, and praising!

Midpoint

March Intensifies Details,

Practice Overcomes Insecurities –

Notes Time.


Process:

Brainstorming began with  . . .16/31 = midpoint – midway – center.  I consulted Dictionary.com for the definition, went to Google Images for a graphic for midpoint. While perusing the math examples I decided my format would be poetry, probably an acrostic to focus on Word Choice and Elaboration. Then as I reviewed my poem I thought about using the words from the acrostic as their own mini poem.  Quickly drafted and added.  Reviewed, revised, spell checked, categories & tagged!


 

 

 

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge so be ready to read DAILY posts!

#SOL16: Sharing Writing


Last night during the “Discovering the Writer’s Life” #TWTBlog chat (Storify here), I paused at this tweet by Ralph Fletcher.

ralph fletcher quote

Take a leap of faith. Write it. Share it.  It doesn’t matter whether it is innocence or arrogance.  It is worth writing.  It is worth sharing. Write!

It’s what we ask of our students. That same leap of faith is needed by all teachers of writing.  What you say matters and is worth writing/sharing!

When should you share?

Sharing options exist at each and every step of the writing process.  As you write your next piece, deliberately stop and have a conversation at every step.  Consider how that feels for you as a writer.  Consider the effect on your writing.

Instead of this:

writing process

Consider a more recursive process!

Maybe this?

writing process two

What would be the benefits for your students and their writing if the talk/sharing time was more than quadrupled?

Would revision be seen as a “more natural process” if talk/sharing has been included at every step of the process?

slice

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Get ready to share your writerly life with the March Slice of Life Challenge!

#SOL15: Wrapping up 2014 and Studying my Writing Process


Last week was a big week for writing assessments as well as professional development planning.  I was also working on some planning for future demonstrations. . . typical multi-tasking for a fairly typical week!  I actually kept a post-it open on my desktop to keep track of my writing process for this blog because it was the purest “creation” that I was developing.  Most of the other pieces were revisions or combinations of other past work.

The picture below from Jan Burkins and  Kim Yaris fascinated me last week!  Stop and read that blog about the writing process if you haven’t yet, because there is so much wisdom about what each of these “steps” really looks like!  Not every single second of writing is visible so take a deep breath and consider your own writing process as you develop a piece of writing from planning to publication.

My mini-research:  Does my writing parallel this?

wring process burkins and yaris

What was my topic for this next slice?  

I had spent some time in December looking at my blog data and wondering what my top blog posts were for 2014 when I wrote an average of two posts per week or at least one “slice” each week as well as a daily “slice” during March.

To begin my planning for this post, I went to my data to double check the top five blog posts and then created this table in Word. After previewing it, I decided that I didn’t like the “picture of the table” so I went with a word version so the links would be clickable. This caused a major discussion with myself about how I would classify adding links to the table. Was that Revision or Editing?  (I went with editing due to “surface changes”!)

5 #TCRWP Day One: Reading Institute
4 #TCRWP:  Informational Writing Goals
3 #TCRWP and a Teacher’s Toolkit for Teaching Writing
2 Lexile Level is NOT Text Complexity CCSS.R.10
1 Close Reading in Kindergarten?  Is it Possible?

My top topics for 2014 were:  Close Reading, Text Complexity, and #TCRWP Writing (2) and Reading (1). . . a mixed list.  Looking back at blog data for previous years revealed that “Close Reading in Kindergarten?  Is it Possible?” was also my top blog post for 2013.  (As a side note “Close Reading and the Little Ones” was also a great presentation at #NCTE14 by Chris Lehman, Kate Roberts, and Kristi Mraz. Check out Catherine Flynn’s post here about the presentation and how she used it.)

I learned two things about my process for writing blog posts.

1) I keep a list of possible blog topics.  By the time a topic is put on this list, I have already begun the pre-writing process.  I’m not sure that I can accurately record how often I work on “prewriting” because the list often includes two or three specific ideas about the topic.

2) I needed to add another step to the writing process.  Sometimes I do collect some information/evidence collaboratively with others.  However, that is NOT the step that I added as I developed this post. This post included both a picture and a table import with multiple opportunities to “check” or “preview” my work.  I included that as another step in the writing process.  Typically, I try to check to see what my post looks like on both a PC and a Mac because it is never the same.  Maybe the “preview” is important because I worry about the “publish” button.  It is still scary to push that button and then see that my post  does not match my “vision” for writing.

So here’s my best representation of my process for writing this blog post.

my writing process

Does everyone use the same exact process?

What does your writing process look like?

What are the implications for your students?

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to share our work.

#SOL15: YAY! Writing Assessments!


It’s the end of January, the temperature is in the 50’s and it’s also the week of annual district-wide writing assessments.  I.AM.SO.EXCITED!  This is the week that we celebrate student writing as we score 3rd grade narratives, 8th grade persuasive/argument letters in social studies, and 10th grade persuasive/argument letters to legislators.

fun

I wrote about this last year in a post titled, “Orchestrating Writing Assessments“.  Check out the link for the details.  It’s an amazing week of learning.

One of the sections of the 1.25 hours of professional development that start the day is about the writing process.  I could go on and on and on and on about the writing process and its importance to students and teachers, but I won’t.  Instead I am directing you to an amazing blog post by Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris, “What the Writing Process Really Looks Like“. The squiggly diagram of the “real” process is so intriguing that I’m keeping track of my process and will report on that soon (in another post – I believe I need more than ONE data point before reporting – LOL).

A second related post is, “How do we know that students are making progress in writing?” as well as this one, “Do I have to teach writing?” You can also search in the box at the top right to locate additional posts about writing assessment and instruction because, of course, quality instruction would be aligned with quality assessment. This week Two Writing Teachers have a series titled, “Aim Higher”. and it is filled with promise!

aim-higher-blog-series

Dana opened the series today with a post titled, “Aim Higher:  Setting goals for editing” where she effectively describes the individualized editing checklists that she used with 5th grade students!   For Throwback week, Betsy chose another of Tara’s posts, “Student Self-Assessment: Introducing the Writing Checklist” and I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention, “Work Smarter:  Use Student Checklists Throughout a Unit of Study . . . and Beyond“.  You will be inspired to take action after checking out these masterful resources because assessments should not just be summative in nature!

And from the west coast Julieanne wrote about student responses to assessments in “Celebrate:  The Power of Assessments, Part 2”,  She built on Melanie’s ideas for cutting up rubrics in order to make them more “student friendly” as well as to challenge students to reach for higher levels!

One final thought on assessment:  What is the information that you will gain from the assessment that you are planning?  Clare and Tammy at Teachers for Teachers have this thought-provoking post, “Redefining Assessment” as they use Lucy Calkins definition “Assessment is the thinking teacher’s mind work.” (Because we should know so much more about these students beyond the score on a test!)  What do we know that guides our instruction?

Is writing a priority in your district?

How would an “observer” know?

How have you added to your knowledge of assessments and their use?

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to share our work.

#TCRWP: Information Writing


Well, the June 2014 week of Writing Institute ended one month ago.  The finale included a “flash mob”, laughing and crying, and singing.  Memorable.  Unforgettable.  How do we have evidence of our growth?

We wrote.  We wrote some more.  And even more.  We wrote again and again using the lessons that we were practicing orally and in writing during our sessions.  Here’s just a view of my drafts.

What patterns do you notice in the drafts?

 # Draft 1

DRAFT 1  Monday, June 23

“Writing isn’t really important if it’s okay to write poorly.  Writing should be high quality or don’t even bother asking students to write.”  Mary E quote to begin June Writing Institute 2014.

But students have to write at school.  There are 10 writing CCSS ELA Anchor Standards that specifically address writing.  Under reading, 4-6 also address the craft of writing.  Writing is important.

Writing –  what do authors use for beginnings?  A title – promise of the author to the reader.  Provocative beginning– engage, pull them in so they want to write, yet also fit within the context .  Delicate balance between student choice and teacher need for compliance – do what must be  done!

 

Notes and questions:

  • How did looking at how authors began help us as writers?  How could that be used by students in order to begin writing?  How could that also be used by teachers at PD
  • Look again at the titles that Mary chose.  How did she arrive at those?

When we write:

  • How do we begin?  Introductions? Prologue?
  • What language about writing would be inviting and engaging for teachers and students?

Some ideas. Not a lot of content – YET!

Draft Day # 2 

DRAFT 2  For MS and HS Teachers in Districts    What writing is important?

“Writing isn’t really important if it’s okay to write poorly.  Writing should be high quality or you shouldn’t even bother asking students to write,” according to Mary Ehrenworth (TCRWP Writing Institute.  June, 2014).But students do have to write at school.

Is “not writing” a viable option?  Not really, because there are 10 writing CCSS ELA Anchor Standards that specifically address writing in all content areas grades 6-12 as well as in the primary grades.  To underscore the importance of writing, CCSS ELA  Reading Anchor Standards, 4-6 also address the craft of writing.  Therefore, writing is necessary and important at school in order to address the standards.The CCSS propose that the three types of writing covered by CCSS.W. 1 opinion / argument; 2. Informational/explanatory; and 3. Narrative  are to receive approximately equal attention in the elementary grades.  As a student progresses through the grades, narrative writing is de-emphasized and more attention is paid to Standards 1 and 2.

 

What does this mean for Teachers?

Teachers in all content areas are expected to be able to assist students to be better writers within their content expertise.  Will they be “teaching” writing?  Let’s examine this question a bit farther.  Will the science teacher be teaching writing?  Yes and No.  The science teacher will be expected to read, write and speak like a scientist.  The student will use science vocabulary in oral and written work.  Lab reports might be one example of expected science writing. The science teacher has the knowledge and expertise to guide the student in reading and writing as an apprentice scientist.  The business education teacher will assist the students in reading and writing tasks that would be found within the world of business.  Does this mean that every content area class has to now write a term paper?  The CCRR Anchor Standards do not say that every class should be writing a term paper but there should be an expectation for daily reading and writing in each classroom, even in small doses.

 

(What changed in this draft?

  • Explicitly stated purpose
  • Bold headings stated as questions so text includes the answers)

 

Day 3 Draft

 

DRAFT 3 For MS and HS Teachers in Districts   

Writing

Draft: Well-rounded student – information and all –  parenting – everyone has a role . ELA will not be mastering science content but yet having some uniform expectations  (at least having conversations about how individual roles contribute to the greater good !)

 

Chapter 1  Begin at the Beginning

What writing is important?

“Writing isn’t really important if it’s okay to write poorly.  Writing should be high quality or you shouldn’t even bother asking students to write,” according to Mary Ehrenworth (TCRWP Writing Institute.  June, 2014).

But students do have to write at school.  Is “not writing” a viable option?  Not really, because there are 10 writing CCSS ELA Anchor Standards that specifically address writing in all content areas grades 6-12 as well as in the primary grades.  To underscore the importance of writing, CCSS ELA  Reading Anchor Standards, 4-6 also address the craft of writing.  Therefore, writing is necessary and important at school in order to address the standards.

The CCSS propose that the three types of writing covered by CCSS.W. 1 opinion / argument; 2. Informational/explanatory; and 3. Narrative  are to receive approximately equal attention in the elementary grades.  As a student progresses through the grades, narrative writing is de-emphasized and more attention is paid to Standards 1 and 2.

What does this mean for Teachers?

Teachers in all content areas are expected to be able to assist students to be better writers within their content expertise.  Will they be “teaching” writing?  Let’s examine this question a bit farther.  Will the science teacher be teaching writing?  Yes and No.  The science teacher will be expected to read, write and speak like a scientist.  The student will use science vocabulary in oral and written work.  Lab reports might be one example of expected science writing. The science teacher has the knowledge and expertise to guide the student in reading and writing as an apprentice scientist.  The business education teacher will assist the students in reading and writing tasks that would be found within the world of business.  Does this mean that every content area class has to now write a term paper?  The CCRR Anchor Standards do not say that every class should be writing a term paper but there should be an expectation for daily reading and writing in each classroom, even in small doses.

So what will ELA teachers teach about writing if content area teachers have to teach writing? 

Picture this:  Suzie Q is an ELA teacher who LOVES, LOVES, LOVES narrative writing.  She has her students write narratives at the beginning of the year, then she adds in some response to reading, some argument and informational writing.  But a review of her lesson plans and her curriculum map show that Suzie’s students spend 23 out of 36 weeks on Narrative Writing.

Or picture this:  Janie Smith is an ELA teacher who prides herself on giving students choices in what to write.  She begins the year with a unit on each of the following writing genre:  narrative, response to reading, argument, and informational writing.  Each of these four units are approximately four weeks long and are typically completed by the end of the first semester.  During second semester, students can choose their own content to write based on their other course assignments and needs, yet they know that each student will be asked to add at least one more piece of each writing genre to their portfolio collection with a reflection about how it is different from their first semester writing.

 

Which ELA teacher is not only following the spirit of the curriculum but is also focusing on the curriculum of the students?  Correct, Jani Smith, because she has taught the basics and then provides some student choices that allow for increased writing opportunities with fewer “fake” writing assignments just for teachers (OK, snarky – have not included this idea before that writing only for the teacher is a waste of time!)

 

Chapter 2   Predictable Scenarios in Students’ Informational Writing

Katie Clements, TCRWP staff developer, shared these three common predictable patterns of difficulty in Informational Writing for students in grades 3 – 8.  By being aware that other students have had these problems, you yourself can be prepared to plan for a mini-lesson or at the very least to have conference around these issues.  What and how you teach will be built on previous writing instruction in your classroom, but see if any of these ideas spark your thinking!

 

Possible Scenario for Informational Writing:

Disorganized
Only a tiny bit about each part
Jumps right in without setting up expectations

What changes did you note in Draft # 3?

What remains the same?  

What questions remain unanswered for the reader?

 

And then the final four page draft after comments from classmates and my writing partner. (I really struggled with how to “access this format” because I still don’t understand what a Mac can do!)

Still a draft – but formatted 

Over the course of a week, what did you see change?

Only fitting to share this as my Slice of Life this week:  Evidence of Learning at the June Writing Institute 2014!

 Do you save your drafts?  How do you know your writing is improving?

ImageTuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

 

 

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