strategies

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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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. 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 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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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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Introduction: Why Digital Writing Matters

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Author: National Writing Project, with Dànielle Nicole DeVoss, Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, and Troy Hicks

Summary: What does it mean to write digitally? What does it mean to be a teacher of writing in a digital age? In this introduction to the book, Because Digital Writing Matters, the authors provide an overview in response to these questions. They include a review of historical perspectives on writing, of expanding definitions of digital writing, and of the impact of the integration of technology on the teaching and learning of writing. In addition, they explore what digital writing might look like in classrooms including a discussion of the new media Literacy tools, strategies, skills, and dispositions that are necessary to operate within our expanding participatory culture. This chapter and related resources may be especially useful for study groups, as well as those planning professional development or developing grant proposals focused on digital literacy.
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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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