writing process

More Than Skin Deep: Professional Development that Transforms Teachers

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Author: Deborah Dean, Melissa Heaton, Sarah Orme, Gary Woodward

Summary: Four teacher-consultants explore how their involvement in the Writing Project fundamentally shifted how they approached writing, both their own and their students’. They each detail how it demystified the apparent magic that produces good writing, drawing them wholeheartedly into the messiness, collaboration, and beauty that the process of writing truly entails.
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What Student Writing Teaches Us

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Author: Mark Overmeyer

Summary: In this short video, Mark Overmeyer, co-director of the Denver Writing Project and author of the book What Student Writing Teaches Us poses the question, “If you read student writing closely enough, will the student’s writing teach you what the student needs to know?” A thoughtful overview of the value of watching and listening to young writers in the process of writing, this video could be useful in launching a conversation about the role of formative assessment in the development of student writing.
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Real World History: Six Videos that Model and Inspire

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Summary: Looking for ways to involve high school students in using historical tools to craft arguments and make personal connections to current issues? These six short NWP-produced videos spotlight Real World History, a high school course that frames history as an argument about the past and teaches students to think like historians. The video footage, focused on a study of the Great Migration of the 20th Century, could be a springboard for curriculum design or spark conversation in classes or professional development focused on disciplinary literacy with a social justice bent.
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Teaching Grammar in Context: One Approach

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Author: Harriett Williams

Summary: A secondary teacher describes an approach she calls “pedagogical grammar”—a grammar that enables the teacher to turn linguistic features of the language into tools to improve the competence of student writers. By helping students to incorporate specific grammatical structures into early drafts of their own writing through sentence combining and other strategies, this teacher demonstrates how sentence development is key to producing “richer and more focused prose.” This resource may be useful for professional development focused on student revision and response groups.
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Teaching Writing in the Digital Age

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Author: Joel Malley

Summary: In this brief video showing myriad facets of digital writing, teacher Joel Malley documents the ways in which his classroom provides opportunities for students’ deep learning and significant growth as writers. He shares his students’ immersion in content, and their collaboration, response and publishing through social media, video production, and digital storytelling. Workshop leaders might use this as an introductory invitation to generate discussion or perhaps as a model for teachers to create similar videos to document how digital writing looks in their classrooms and why it matters.
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Theory, Politics, Hope, and Action: Building Immersive Writing Experiences for Bilingual Writers

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Author: Carole Edelsky

Summary: This article is a great resource for study groups, inquiry communities, and professional learning of all types with a focus on English learners and writing. After introducing two pieces of “gorgeous” writing from fifth graders in a dual language classroom, Edelsky explains how this writing came to be. First she provides a theoretical overview focused on how people develop language and identity through authentic work within a community of practice. Then she describes the genesis of a different approach to writing development among a group of elementary teachers dealing with the question of “how you make schoolwork like real out-of-school work.” Offering seven “partial answers,” this article is highly accessible with the potential to generate myriad inquiries into issues about language learning, writing, power, and equity.
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Radical Revision Strategies: My Road from Fairy Tale to Catharsis

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Author: Juanita Willingham

Summary: A teacher-writer shares her experience using radical revision, a strategy for taking ones writing apart and reassembling it. In the process of illustrating the impact of trying out various revisions of a poignant poem she wrote and shared with a writing group, she includes five clear and useful strategies that encourage writers to experiment with changes in structure, genre, and point of view. Teacher-writers as well as classroom teachers and facilitators of writing-intensive workshops may appreciate this piece.

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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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Preserving the Cultural Identity of the English Language Learner

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Author: Wilma Ortiz and Karen Sumaryono

Summary: With an advocacy goal of helping immigrant students retain their cultural identities and succeed within the mainstream classroom while also learning a new language, the authors share several effective writing practices that validate students’ primary language in meaningful ways and promote a strong sense of self. These include: helping all students use key words from a variety of languages; inviting students to use their primary language in response to journal entries, writing prompts and free writes; using multilingual mentor texts; employing “writing to learn” in native languages to explore content; and using cooperative grouping to support speaking in English. The details and examples in this article make it an excellent resource for study groups, professional development or individual teachers seeking ways to support language learners.
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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 that 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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