curriculum

Planning for Writing Instruction

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Author: Mark Overmeyer

Summary: In this brief tip from his book, When Writing Workshop Isn’t Working, Mark Overmeyer describes a process of collaborative backward planning that provides a scope and sequence for the year that meets district curriculum requirements, allows for the study of genres connected to various disciplines and units (e.g., research, narrative, memoir, and technical writing), and culminates in a student-generated magazine that draws from strategies learned throughout the year. This would be a useful resource for school-based planning teams as well as for professional development focused on writing workshop and cross-curricular planning and assessment.
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Honoring the Word: Classroom Instructors Find That Students Respond Best to Oral Tradition

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Author: Michael Thompson

Summary: In this award winning essay, Native American teacher and NWP site director Michael Thompson, reflects on his own practice and shares findings from research interviews he conducted with instructors in tribal college and university classrooms to learn how they approach literature and writing. In particular, he wondered if assigned texts represented “the value that Native people have historically given to traditional stories, teachings, speeches, tribal journeys, and accomplishments.” Instructors reported that Native communities typically value the spoken word over the art of writing and described language practices such as collecting personal narratives of elders in documentary films and digitized recordings. Classroom teachers, study groups and professional development leaders interested in exploring resources and practices that support efforts to “reclaim and honor oral traditions” of native peoples may find this article of interest.
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Linking Genre to Standards and Equity

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Author: Tom Fox

Summary: Here is an important article that offers a framework and looks at how genre studies can help writing teachers design meaningful and engaging writing instruction. Fox suggests that standards-based writing curricula do not go far enough when we only teach students about how various genres work. He argues that writing may be construed as “meaningless” and ultimately serve to disenfranchise students if we sidestep the more fundamental question: “Why do people write?” Teachers already familiar with arguments about “authentic” writing will especially appreciate Fox’s call to examine how teachers and students might pursue “urgent” writing situations.
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Reading, Writing, and Mentor Texts: Imagining Possibilities (NWP Radio)

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Summary: Mentor texts can support writers and inspire writing in all genres in the classroom and beyond. This NWP Radio show is of particular interest to study groups and teacher leaders designing professional development that explores the use of mentor texts to support writing in academic disciplines. Presenters share resources for identifying and using effective mentor texts. Highlights include: a definition of mentor texts (2:00); a discussion of using picture books as mentor texts (14:01); advice about choosing 15-25 texts as anchors for the year (15:50); a discussion of the concept of “”deeper writing”” (24:40); and using mentor texts as resources for teacher inquiry (36:43). Also included is a discussion of how a broad definition of “”text”” can enrich a thematic approach to history along with an example of using texts in a history unit on The “”Other”” in America. Included links contain valuable resources on mentor texts in general and in history in particular.
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Whose Core Is It?

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Author: Christina Puntel

Summary: Elementary school teacher and bilingual coordinator, Christina Puntel, pushes back against the mandated content/performance descriptors provided by her district to assert that the “core” of her curriculum is her students’ learning. “I teach with an ear close to the core of each child, to the core of the monarch unit, the silkworm unit, the family songs unit…” Her important reflection on the humanity of the students at the heart of classrooms and curricula will be of interest to teachers and study groups wrestling with the influence of mandated curricula on their teaching.
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Paradise Lost: Introducing Students to Climate Change Through Story

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Author: Brady Bennon

Summary: How does a teacher help students understand and care about global warming in a personal, meaningful way? Moving beyond policy and “big-picture” issues, high school teacher Brady Bennon focused on story. He asked his students to write about their own connections between place and identity, then showed them the documentary film “Paradise Lost.” Students’ poems expressed their thinking about the people in the film, and showed a strong sense of identification and caring. The ultimate goal was to help students “see themselves as truth-tellers and change makers” in response to global warming through the power of story, rather than through the abstract study of science and policy.
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Learning From Laramie: Urban High School Students Read, Research, and Reenact The Laramie Project

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Author: Marsha Pincus

Summary: In this story of an extended teacher research project, the author shares the design, purpose, and impact of a course called “Drama and Inquiry,” where she and her students explored multiple perspectives, shifting identities, and ethical dialogue through their study of non-canonical plays including “The Laramie Project.” Consider including this article in an advanced institute to support conversations about teacher inquiry and social justice.
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Brief Reviews of Major Works of James Moffett

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Author: John Warnock

Summary: These brief sketches of the works of James Moffett emphasize ideas for classroom practice found in Moffett’s works. For teachers in any advanced institute or study group who want to do a deep dive into Moffett and his legacy related to student-centered writing experiences, these readings would provide the door.
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Improving Students’ Academic Writing: Building a Bridge to Success

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Author: Juliet Wahleithner, Jayne Marlink

Summary: This report would be of interest to those embarking on college-preparatory reading/writing initiatives; it describes the statistically significant impact of a statewide professional development program designed to improve students’ understanding and ability to write academically in high school, and specifically in grades 11 and 12. The authors clearly lay out the study’s purpose, methods, and guiding frameworks, including one for forming sustained professional learning communities.
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Negotiating Academic Discourse

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Author: Linda Flower

Summary: This report discusses the difficulties experienced by many college freshmen as they seek to negotiate the transition from a writing process based on comprehension and response to a more fully rhetorical, constructive process. Summarizing a series of research studies on student responses to a reading-to-write task, the report concludes that both the deficit model (“lack” of skills) and developmental model (“stages” of growth) are incorrect characterizations of the transition between these two processes. Instead, the report supports a discourse community model, which views students as attempting to negotiate their entry into academic discourse by learning the conventions, expectations, etc. expected by this community. Although this study took place in the 1980s, the report still offers important food for thought as teachers work with students negotiating the academic transition. The report would be useful in contexts related to high school-college transition.
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