reading/writing connection

Honoring Dialect and Culture: Pathways to Student Success on High-Stakes Writing Assessments

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Author: Michelle Crotteau

Summary: As teachers we often struggle to find ways to honor our students’ home dialects while still preparing them to take high stakes writing tests requiring the use of Standard English. In this piece, the author describes her three-pronged approach within a Writing Strategies class to work with students in danger of not receiving diplomas because they had failed the state test. Students developed linguistic and mechanical fluency by speaking and writing about their interests (e.g., hunting), drawing upon their Appalachian English dialect, and developing knowledge about how to recognize audience-appropriate situations for employing both Standard English and their own dialect. Lots of examples of student writing coupled with her own rationales and experience make this a useful piece for workshops, study groups or professional development focused on culturally relevant practices within a high stakes testing environment.
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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 any advanced institute or teacher study group who wants 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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Puny Poetry Meets Its Match

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Author: Gerri Ruckle & Jim Horrell

Summary: What can we do when confronted with the challenge of helping young poets develop an awareness of the expressive power of poetry as opposed to rhyming lines that that often convey little meaning? By sharing a series of scaffolded strategies illustrated with multiple examples of student writing, the authors tell the story of how they changed their teaching and supported students in exploring poetry and creating sophisticated works of self-expression. Excellent ideas for professional development related to teaching poetry within a reading/writing workshop approach.
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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 the deficit model (“lack” of skills) and developmental model (“stages” of growth) are incorrect characterization 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 80s, 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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Promises of Coherence, Weak Content, and Strong Organization: An Analysis of the Student Text

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Author: Margaret Kantz

Summary: This report looks at ways in which college freshmen interpreted and negotiated an assignment calling for writing based on reading, along with how teachers then judged the abilities and preparation of the students based on that writing.The study discovered that students and teachers had different understandings of the expectations of the task and that such tasks are more difficult and complex for students than teachers realize. Although an older article, the conclusions of this research are still relevant in understanding the difficult transition from high school writing to college academic discourse. This article would be a useful starting point for discussions on how teachers must examine their assumptions about students’ interpretations of assignments. In addition, it might serve as a model of inquiry into the writing process of students.
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Are You Ready for College Writing?

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Author: Mary Ann Smith

Summary: What is college writing like? This report on a series of pilot workshops for high school juniors focused on this question, and the students quickly discovered that college writing is not the traditional five-paragraph essay. Instead, it is multifaceted, always involves critical thinking, and is the most common form of assessment. These principles and others are outlined in this short report, which also gives some information about developing the workshops. This resource is useful in the planning stages of similar workshops on academic discourse for high school juniors, and demonstrates the importance of an inquiry stance to questions about writing.
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Book Review: English Learners, Academic Literacy, and Thinking: Learning in the Challenge Zone

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Author: Debra Schneider

Summary: How can we best support English language learners in classrooms where rigorous curricula focuses on intellectual practices across content areas? How can we engage in practices that enable students to construct rather than reproduce knowledge, develop deep understanding of disciplinary knowledge and forge connections between school and the outside world? In this book review, Debra Schneider shares insights and successful strategies emerging from her own practice and study group related to the chapter on Academic Literacy [see PDF], suggesting that teaching content “”deeply”” enables teaching standards in authentic ways. An excellent resource for study groups, inquiry groups, or those leading professional development.
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On the Use of Metawriting to Learn Grammar and Mechanics

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Author: Douglas James Joyce

Summary: In this short article, the author proposes a strategy to support adolescent composition students to develop an awareness of grammatical patterns underlying their writing (errors). The article includes an assignment and student examples.
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Writing and Reading in the Classroom

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Author: James Britton

Summary: Within this foundational piece, Britton describes examples of K-university classroom practice, as well as theory and research supporting learning environments where reading, writing, and talk become catalysts for communication, collaboration and learning. The depth and breadth of this chapter might lead to some intriguing opportunities for study groups to draw parallels and contrasts between 1987 and today; to historically and theoretically situate practices such as dialogue journals, free-writing/free-reading, collaborative learning, and real world learning; and to explore further suggestions for teachers and administrators.
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A Cognitive Strategies Approach to Reading and Writing Instruction for English Language Learners in Secondary School

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Author: Carol Booth Olson and Robert Land

Summary: This article documents a longitudinal research study conducted by members of the UC Irvine Writing Project in partnership with a large, urban school district in which 93 percent of the students speak English as a second language. Over an eight-year period, 55 secondary teachers implemented a cognitive strategies approach to reading and writing instruction designed to make visible the thinking strategies that experienced readers and writers access in the process of meaning construction. An important resource, this would be useful as a text for study in a professional development program or for individual teacher research. The project “was not just an abstract research study; it was a concrete attempt to level the playing field for specific ELL students in a large urban school district through sustained, ongoing collaboration with a dedicated and committed group of teachers…” The consistency of positive outcomes on multiple measures strongly points to the efficacy of using this approach with ELL students.
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