strategies

My New Teaching Partner? Using the Grammar Checker in Writing Instruction

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Author: Dorothy Fuller and Reva Potter

Summary: What happens when middle school students are invited to explore grammar check tools in an intentional way as part of a teacher inquiry project that connects to instruction? The authors describe their process and the benefits: students became more informed users of the tools and more confident writers, and they made explicit and intentional connections to grammar concepts. This article could be included as a resource in a professional development program or study group focused on finding authentic ways to incorporate grammar into writing workshop approaches.
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Grammar—Comma—a New Beginning

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Author: Mary Ehrenworth

Summary: Teaching grammar through inquiry and seduction? In this piece, Mary Ehrenworth shares strategies for moving away from direct instruction (which seldom works) to making it possible for students to “have an apprenticeship relation with great authors, even at the sentence structure level.” By honoring diverse dialects and helping students make intentional choices through inquiry (How DO authors choose verb tense?), teaching grammar becomes an integral part of the composing process. Examples of student work illuminate the effectiveness of this approach and make this article useful for workshop leaders and teachers seeking fresh approaches for teaching grammar within the context of student writing.
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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 for students who 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 by learning how to recognize audience-appropriate situations for employing both Standard English and their own dialect. Lots of student writing samples, coupled with the author’s 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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Tech Tools for Teachers, by Teachers: Video Game Design in the Classroom

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Author: Greg Kehring

Summary: What can the writing process teach students and teachers about video game design, and how can game design expand our understanding of writing genres? Read about this middle school teacher who used Gamestar Mechanic to engage his students in digital writing and connected learning. From “creation” to “peer revision” and finally publication on a gaming website where others played the games and offered feedback, he and his students discovered the power technology can have in understanding composing and creative processes and providing new avenues for writing. For teachers who are reluctant to engage in digital work (or who are ready to take some new steps), this article can provide encouragement, guidance, and testimony about how students learn and respond to such experiences.
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Collaborating to Write Dialogue

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Author: Janis Cramer

Summary: By engaging children in a collaborative workshop environment to help them learn to develop characters, consider word choice, and interweave dialogue and description, the author simultaneously helped her students to strengthen social and independent writing skills. Opportunities to perform their dialogues in front of the class were also a component of this authentic experience in writing narratives. This article provides vivid details and examples of student writing and could be a useful resource for professional development related to hands-on approaches to writing as process.
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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. This resource offers excellent ideas for professional development related to teaching poetry within a reading/writing workshop approach.
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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 learners in classrooms where rigorous curricula focus 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 review of Pauline Gibbons’s book, 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 including their 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 (including the work of some NWP teachers), as well as theory and research supporting learning environments where reading, writing, and talk become catalysts for 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 Britton’s suggestions for teachers and administrators.
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Inviting Parents in: Expanding Our Community Base to Support Writing

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Author: Cathy Fleischer and Kimberly Coupe Pavlock

Summary: Looking for ideas for ways to reach out to parents to help them understand why we teach writing in the ways we do along with sharing successful strategies for how they might help their children or teens with writing? What about how to build awareness of connections between high school and college writing? This article, filled with research-based strategies and examples for those seeking to facilitate such experiences, also makes a case for how successful workshops with parents can help them become “informed, knowledgeable readers of educational reform and potential advocates for change” that may supplant what they are aware of from media or legislative mandates.
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