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    16382975 collaboratively-developing-an-effective-program-for-teaching-writing 16382975 collaboratively-developing-an-effective-program-for-teaching-writing Document Transcript

    • DEVELOPINGTHE WRITING I.Q.* PROGRAM: *(I = Impact of content, Q = Quality of language) A Strengths-Based, Best Practices Process Journal and Resource Guide for Teachers K - 12 By Jim Evers Dominican College Writing Project DEVELOPING
    • THE WRITING I.Q.* PROGRAM: *(I = Impact of content, Q = Quality of language) A Strengths-Based, Best Practices Process Journal and Resource Guide for Teachers K - 12 By Jim Evers Dominican College Writing Project
    • DEVELOPING THE WRITING I.Q. PROGRAM:A Strengths-Based, Best Practices Process Journaland Resource Guide for Teachers K - 12__________________________________________by Jim EversCopyright ! 2004 James L. EversAll rights reserved.No part of this book may be reproduced in any formwithout permission of the author.Printed by Dominican CollegeWriting Institute470 Western HighwayOrangeburg, NY 10962845-359-7800 Ext. 210
    • TABLE OF CONTENTSINTRODUCTION...................................................................................................1 -10 Bane of Superintendents Day Three Principles for Teachers of Writing What You Can Expect from Using This Process Journal Why a Common Curriculum is Needed Some Classroom Issues Putting Marks on Papers Rubrics and Guides Writers Guide and Assessment tool Back Ground of the Writing I.Q. Program Being a Writing Coach Where the Content of this Publication Came From Professional Writing Final Thoughts Suggested Structure for Seminar Charge to Teachers PART ONESEMINAR PROCESS AND CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT JOURNAL........11Section One:EXPLORING LOCALREALITIES.....................................................................................11 Step 1. Clarifying Your Thoughts Aboutwriting....................................................11 Step 2. Collecting Local BestPractices...................................................................14 Step 3. Identifying Other Widely-Used BestPractices...........................................16 Step 4. Reviewing KeyResources..........................................................................16Section Two:BUILDING THE WRITING IQ GUIDE AND ASSESSMENT TOOL Step 1. Critiquing Collected WritingSamples........................................................22 Step 2. Putting it All Together in a Writing I.Q. Writers Guide and Assessment Tool....................................................................................................26
    • Step 3. Using the Tool and CoachingWriters........................................................31 Self-coaching/Assessing Peer coaching/Assessing Teacher Coaching (conferencing) and Assessing Parent Coaching and AssessingWorkbook Section Three:EXPLORING KEY REALITIES OF WRITING..................................................................35 PART TWOA REVIEW OF BEST CLASSROOM PRACTICES AND KEY RESOURCES.....45Review Section One:BRIEF EXPLANATIONS OF WIDELY-USED BESTPRACTICES...................................46 A. Writing-As-Process..........................................................................................46 B. Writer’s Workshop..........................................................................................52 C. Mini- Lessons....................................................................................................55 D. Portfolios..........................................................................................................57 E. Self/Peer/Teacher Coaching and Conferencing.................................................59 F. Talk-Write........................................................................................................61 G. Free Writing.....................................................................................................63 H. Speed Planning.................................................................................................65 I. Demand writing................................................................................................65 J. Writer’s Journal/Journaling..............................................................................67 K. Genre................................................................................................................69 L. Multi- Genre......................................................................................................71 M. Writing Across The Curriculum.......................................................................73 N. Handbooks.......................................................................................................75
    • O. History of English Language...........................................................................77 P. Suggested Supportive Practices........................................................................79 Building a Data-Base of Best Practices Creating a Colleague Mentoring Program Training the ParentsReview Section Two:SUMMRAY OF KEY RESOURCEBooks.................................................................................................................................81Web Sites...........................................................................................................................85 PART THREEWHAT NEXT: EXPLORING THE STEPS NEEDED TO SUSTAIN ANEFFECTIVE WRITINGPROGRAM............................................................................87 APPENDIX Case Report Using the Writing I.Q. Program........................................................90 Authors Background andAcknowledgements.......................................................92 Demand writing.................................................................................................* Helping Your Child to Be A More Effective Writer in School............................* Common Errors and Mistakes to Avoid in Using English..................................* Brief History of The English Language..............................................................**For copies of these contact the author at: www.jamesevers.com
    • INTRODUCTIONSuperintendents Workshop Days: Often the Bane of Good PracticesIn the 35 plus years that I’ve been in education, I remember how often I disliked many ofthe training programs offered on Superintendent’s Day. Ed Joyner, Executive Director ofYale’s School Development Program (Commer Schools) once named these days as“drive-by training.” Rightly so. They usually focus on the educational fad of the day oron a topic that one of the administrators is working on for his or her doctorate.But, what I disliked most about those workshop days was that the speakers/trainers, U Uthough considered experts, never seemed to have an interest in what we were alreadydoing. Rather than building on what was already working well or already in place, thesepresenters often implied that we were off track, and they had something better. By notfocusing first on what was already working, these programs implied to teachers that theadministration did not value what the teachers had been doing.That the presenters may indeed have had something better, to me, is beside the point. Thelack of respect for what teachers were already doing was rude, and that rudenessundermines staff morale and the value of the any existing good practices. Even some ofthe weaker practices in a school may have some qualities that are of value, but nopractice can be improved effectively through insult. Instead, lets move existing practicesforward by finding the hidden good qualities in them and then build on those qualities.Thats what will happen in this publication.I begin with the premise that what you already are doing vis- a- vis the teaching ofwriting has significant value for helping you build an even more effective program.
    • Three Principles for Teachers of Writing:Because I worry about the way young writers are being taught and judged in their writingin many schools, I am working from three strongly-felt personal principles for teachers ofwriting:1. Anyone who teaches writing at any level should also be doing some writing, preferablyfor publication, or at least for personal practice and/or for personal guidance such asjournaling.2. Anyone who teaches and assesses writing has an obligation to let students know andunderstand the writing standards they are expected to meet and for which they will beassessed.3. Anyone who teaches writing could be more effective if she/he stopped thinking of her/himself as a teacher of writing and began thinking of her/himself as a writing coach.What you can expect to gain from using this journal:1. You can expect to gain a renewed confidence in your own best practices for teachingwriting.2. You can expect to gain a broader understanding of the teaching of writing in yourclassroom, in your school, in your district, and in schools in general.3. You can expect to gain a set of common terms, practices, and assessments selectedcooperatively by you and your colleagues.4. You can expect to gain a writer’s guide/assessment tool that will be cooperativelycreated for use by students, teachers, and parents.5. You can expect to gain a personal journal of resources, ideas, and best practices. 2
    • Why a common curriculum is needed:As students encounter new teachers each grade year, they discover that not all teachersteach writing in the same way, nor emphasize the same elements of writing, or use thesame terms. Developmentally , this is not as helpful to the students as would be an U Uapproach that at least included a few consistent common practices, terms, and U Uassessments.For example, in non-fiction essays, teachers usually ask for a key sentence that states thetopic of the essay. Some call this the “topic sentence,” others call it the “theme sentence,”still others call it the “controlling idea sentence,” and some call it the “main ideasentence.” Each of these terms is fine, but it would be more helpful to the students if allteachers in a given school and in a given school district used the same term for this keysentence. And it would be more helpful to students if there were a similar consistency ofa few other terms used. In the journal section of this publication, teachers will decide and U Uagree on which terms should be common to all teachers in the school and/or in thedistrict.Students also benefit from experiencing some common classroom practices in theteaching of writing. For example, such practices might include writer’s workshop,writing-as-process, journaling, peer coaching, peer editing, and teacher conferences.Further, students benefit when they experience common assessment approaches fromyear to year and from teacher to teacher. And, students further benefit from having all oftheir teachers, not just their language arts teachers, use the agreed-on common terms,practices, and assessments.SOME CLASSROOM ISSUES:Putting Remarks on Papers:I recently came across an article in the on-line edition of the C.S. Monitor by a college U Ufreshman English professor about putting written remarks on students papers. It seemsthat this professor was troubled over how often he labored to make his remarks justify thegrade that he gave to each paper. He eventually gave up justifying and simply told eachwriter how and why the paper affected him. 3
    • My reactions to the professors practice are both supportive and yet critical. While I agreethat our remarks to writers ought to be honest explanations of why and how the writingaffected us, I also feel that if we dont know before hand some of what we are going tolook for in a given assignment, then it seems the writers work stands the chance beingevaluated by an evaluators indecisiveness, whims, or situational standards. Yes, Im surethat there is a need to read each writers piece with a fresh and open mind, letting thepiece guide our reactions. However, Im also sure that there are some characteristics thatwe teachers, including this professor, consistently look for in every assignment.If we and the professor would collect a series of papers weve marked throughout asemester, I know that we would find some remarks that occur constantly and that speakto characteristics that we feel should be in any paper. Shouldnt the writers at least knowbefore they write what these consistent characteristics are that we expect? It isnt fair toour students to hide our internal expectations from them.Also, I have found that once students papers are handed back graded, despiteany critical or constructive remarks I may have put on the papers, most students assumethat the assignment is completed and is to be forgotten. Little is learned by these studentsfrom post-writing remarks.Rubrics and Guides:The professor further said that he didnt use a grading-rubric (a rubric used for scoring apaper) because he felt that he couldnt decide beforehand what he was going to like in agiven assignment. I too dislike the grading-rubrics because they are error directed, andmost of them are far too detailed in far too many aspects of writing to be of value as aguide to writers or even to evaluators.Writers Guide and Assessment Tool:Instead of a grading-rubric, what you will create in this journal is a writers guide andassessment tool. It will be similar in structure to a rubric, but it addresses yourexpectations rather than writers errors. And , the expectations will center on only two U Uaspects of the writing: the impact of the content and the quality of the language (TheWriting I.Q.). 4
    • The guide and assessment tool that you will create will be for students to use as they U Uwrite and a tool for assessing (by self, peer, and teacher) what has been written. Studentsshould be taught how to use the guide for any writing assignment. And, if there are any U Uadditional specifics that you might hope for in a given assignment but that are not in thetool, you should tell your students what these are before they write.BACKGROUND OF THE WRITING I.Q.:In the mid 1960s, I was trained in using the Diedrich Scale, a precursor to todaysubiquitous grading-rubrics. In truth, I never used it in my classrooms because I found itconfused writers more than coached them. Then in the 1980s, when I returned to thepublic school classroom after spending time in private education and in business, I founda key resource that actually became the background for the Writing IQ Program. It wasINSIDE OUT: Developmental Strategies for Teaching Writing, by Dan Kirby and TomLiner (Boynton/Cook). In a chapter entitled "What is Good Writing," Kirby and Linercome to the conclusion that good writing can be judged by two key attributes: it isinteresting and it is technically skillful.They then established a guide that included five criteria for each of the two attributes. Igave a copy of their criteria guide to my students and required them to use the guide asthey planned and wrote their essays. Then, after the essay was written, the students had todo a Kirby/Liner Conference, first with themselves and then with a peer, before handingin any essays to me. My students preferred calling it a "Kirby Conference." (Thealliteration worked for them.) And used to say, somewhat teasingly, to each other, "Hey,did you do a Kirby Conference on this?"What I saw happening was that my students were paying closer attention to both thecontent and the language in their assignments. From that I developed my first teachertraining programs around "interestingness" and "technical skillfulness," calling theprogram The HIT Writing Program, (Honing Interestingness and Technical skillfulness).However, one summer after having given the HIT program to many teachers, it occurredto me that a piece of writing can have an impact on a reader without it necessarily beinginteresting, and that a writers technical skillfulness really depended on the grade level,age, and maturity of the writer. Thats when I changed the program to The Writing IQ 5
    • Program: Impact of the content and Quality of the language. However, I remain deeplyindebted to Dan Kirby and Tom Liner and their influential book, INSIDE OUT.Where the content of this seminar process journal and resource guide came from:This publication should prove to be very practical for you and your colleagues becausethe content of both the journal and the guide has come from my experiences as aclassroom teacher and from feedback from hundreds of teachers in development U Uprograms that I have given over the years in many schools and graduate programs. Toadd support to that, in the Appendix is a case report and some statements about thisprogram from teachers in one of those schools where, for two years, I facilitated them inputting together their writing curriculum for grades 2-5.Being a Writing Coach:The key point Im getting to is that if you were to function more as a writing coach than awriting judge, you would be able to guide the process of developing writers at each stepof the way. Just as a violin teacher or a gymnastics instructor guides learners, you wouldbegin exactly where each writer is rather than where some abstract standards say eachshould be. The key question to ask of yourself is: Why wait until the assignment is done,even in a college freshman course, to give instruction?By being a writing coach rather than being a writing judge, you can avoid puttingchildren in the trap of being given instruction after the fact. Instead you can be givingthem developmental instruction before and during the writing process (See Writing-as-Process in Review Section). A coach looks to see what can be built on, what needs to behoned, what needs to be modified. An effective coach, particularly of young or beginning Ulevel writers of any age, begins not with whats wrong but with what are the writersstrengths . He or she finds something to be built on even in the writing of very limited Uwriters, especially if the assignments encourage writers to write about themselves andwhat they know about. (For example, one way to do this is by first assigning the genre ofpersonal narratives. It is the best genre to build all other genres from because it buildsconfidence in writers by allowing them to write about what they know.)Professional Writing:Let me put this call for coaching into perspective. I work for a publishing company as acritical reader. All manuscripts to be published by this publisher have been selected firstby an in-house committee of manuscript readers. They make suggestions that are passed 6
    • on to the authors for consideration. After the authors make what they feel are the neededmodifications, the manuscripts are then sent to several external critical readers, such as I,who individually, make suggestions for the manuscript. Again, these suggestions arepassed on to the authors, and after the authors make any additional modifications theyfeel are needed, the manuscript goes to the publishers content editor who edits thecontent and then finally to a proofreading editor for final changes. In most cases it is ayear to a two-year process from original proposal to final publication. Lots of coachingand editing takes place during this time.Additionally, I write and have published several business training guides and dozens ofprofessional articles. Before I submit any writing to a publisher, including the manuscriptof this journal, I send it to my personal editor for critiquing. My editor makes suggestionsand critical remarks (coaching me) that I weigh carefully before modifying my work.This is true for all professional writers, even those who make good money as writers.Why then is it that so many teachers fail to take a writer through this fine-tuning processbut instead give an assignment and then judge it after something is written? Are we Uteachers expecting our young, developing writers to be more proficient in their writingskills than professional writers ? USure, I know the argument: Teachers have 20-30 students per class and there just isnttime to individualize writing instruction, especially since many teachers are now pressed,they think, to get their students ready for state tests. Respectfully, I say, nonsense.Teachers - at any grade level - who have learned to become writing coaches, and who, forexample, use the practice of writing workshop (See Best Classroom Practices Guide.),and who have developed writing guides such as you will from this journal, and who havetaught their students to be peer coaches and self-assessors (See Best Classroom PracticesGuide.), find that they can individualize their teaching of writing, as you too, will learn.Further, you will see from a case study included in this introduction, and to which I canpersonally testify from my own classroom teaching experiences, that students in suchclasses tend to do excellently on state tests.Final Thoughts:1. As stated above, in this publication the encouragement is for you and your colleaguesto develop the commonalities rather than having them imposed on you. The curriculum,then, becomes yours. 7
    • 2. Though you are looking to build commonality into the teaching of writing, thecurriculum you build should not be considered as the only way one can or should teachwriting. Rather, the curriculum you create should be limited to a select few, but key,common terms, practices, and assessments. That leaves room for each teacher to stillpractice her/his unique style of teaching and still meet each class’ unique needs.3. Once the curriculum is created and implemented, it regularly should be revised andrefined, when experience and changing needs call for such revision and refinement.SUGGESTED STRUCTURE(S) FOR A SEMINAR/TRAINING PROGRAM:Ideally, in a given building, it would be helpful if all teachers who teach writing attended U Uthe seminar and worked in grade level groups. Some schools have held separate seminarsfor each grade level; others have brought together representative teachers from thevarious grade levels who, after the seminar, train their grade level colleagues in theseminar outcomes.In any of these arrangements, a facilitator would be helpful; however, because theoutcomes of this program are to be arrived at primarily by the classroom teachers, itwould be best if the facilitator is someone who is highly objective and does not have apredetermined curriculum in mind.Ideally, the lower grades should tell the next level grade what terms, practices, andassessments they, in the lower grades, are using, and so on up the grade levels.Throughout the school year, the lower grades also should inform the next level grade ofany changes made in their program. Developmentally, it works better that way than if it isthe upper grades telling the lower ones what to do. And it is most important that there is acontinuing dialog between all grades and all schools in the district.Materials Needed for the Activities in the JournalU1. Each teacher should bring to the first session copies of three unmarked sample piecesof writing from his/her grade. Have enough copies of these three samples for each of theteachers of the same grade level. One sample should be of a weak piece, one of an 8
    • average piece, and one of a strong piece. These samples should also be free of the writersnames.2. Someone should make certain that a flip chart or, even better, two or more flip charts,and markers are available in the seminar room. Groups will be writing ideas on the flipchart and then those pages will be posted in the seminar room. (Flip chart paper and/orlarge sheets of newsprint paper will also work.) Masking tape will also be necessary forposting the pages.CHARGE TO TEACHERS OF WRITING:I would encourage all of you who teach writing to do lots of writing yourselves. Ithumbles you as a teacher of writing, particularly if you try to get something published,and it moves you away from being a guardian of correct spelling, grammar and usage asit moves you instead toward being a coach of effective writing.Best wishes to all who teach and especially to those who teach writing; it can be a mostrewarding experience. Jim Evers, Nanuet, NY, 2004 9
    • JOURNAL SECTION ONE: EXPLORING PERSONAL AND COLLECTIVE STANDARDSSTEP 1: CLARIFYING YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE TEACHING OFWRITINGNote: Some of the activities you will be doing are elementary in nature because they are designedto give you a reminder of some “elemental” aspects of writing and of teaching writing. Also,since many of these activities are to be used with your students, it is best if you try them first,yourself.ACTIVITY A.Purpose: To give yourself a record of some of your thoughts, concerns, dreams, andaspirations about the teaching of writing. 11
    • Task: Use as much time as you need to freely write any thoughts you may have about U Uthe teaching of writing in general as well as the teaching of writing in your classroom, inyour school, and in your district. 12
    • ACTIVITY B.Purpose: To get everyone talking about the teaching of writing so as to gain someclarity, especially as it pertains to your local realities.Caution: Make a collective effort to keep this session from becoming a gripe session or one thatfocuses on what’s wrong with the teaching of writing, or with the administration. Instead, let thissession be a way of posting thoughts, concerns, dreams, and aspirations. Working on relatedproblems will happen later throughout the process.Task: After completing Activity A, start a sharing session with your colleagues, and asyou and your colleagues share, record for yourself any of the ideas you wish to record inthis journal. Also have someone list on a flip chart the key topics shared. Post this flipchart page on the meeting room wall. 13
    • STEP 2. COLLECTING LOCAL BEST CLASSROOM PRACTICESACTIVITY C. Purpose: To give yourself a record of what you feel are your best practices in theteaching of writing.Task: Take as much time as you need to record below what you know are your best U Upractices for the teaching of writing. 14
    • ACTIVITY D.Purpose: 1) to honor the best practices of yourself and of each other 2) to cross enrich each other in doing soSuggestion: Regularly, share best practices with each other, occasionally model best practicesfor each other, and even do some co-teaching with others. Further, it also would be beneficial forthe teachers in a given school and in the school district to have a computer data-base of bestpractices which includes the names of who can give help to others wanting to learn more abouthow to use a given best practice.Task: Have a sharing session with your colleagues, and record for yourself those ideasthat you would like to possibly incorporate into your teaching of writing. Also, again on aflip chart page, have someone record a list of the best practices that come out in thesharing. Post this flip chart page on the meeting room wall. As you listen to others, 15
    • record for yourself, in space below, the best practices you would like to know moreabout.STEP 3. IDENTIFYING OTHER WIDELY-USED BEST CLASSROOM PRACTICESACTIVITY A:Purpose: To continue the commitment to build on your experiences, and to review andthen discuss widely used best practices:Task:On the list below of widely-used classroom practices in teaching writing do thefollowing:1. Put a check next to the practices you already use.2. Put an asterisk next to any that you would like to know more about.___ writing-as-process 16
    • ___ writer’s workshop___ mini-lessons___ portfolios___ teacher conferencing___ peer conferencing___ writer’s chair___ talk-write___ free writing___ speed planning___ writer’s journal or journaling___ demand writing___ genre and multi-genre writing___ writing across the curriculum___ using handbooks___ studying the history of language and specifically the English languageSTEP 4. REVIEWING KEY RESOURCESACTIVITY A.Purpose: In the handouts at most training programs, presenters often include a list ofresources. These are usually found at the back of the handout pack but are seldomreviewed in the program. However, because The Writing I.Q. Program is built from asynthesis of several key resources, and in further keeping with the commitment that theprogram begins with you, the list of resources is given here, early on.Task: Use this list just as you did the list of Best Practices. To do that:A. Read the list of resources below and put a check mark next to the ones with which youare familiar.B. Add an exclamation mark next to those you feel are important or goodresources for your colleagues to know about.C. Put a question mark next to any resource that you would like to know more about.D. Finally, add any resources that you, or others, feel are missing but belong on this list.ON TEACHING WRITING___K-8, after THE END: Teaching Creative Revision. Barry Lane, Heinemann 17
    • ___K-8, A Fresh Look at Writing. Donald H. Graves, Heineman___K-8, Reviser’s Toolbox. Barry Lane, Discover Writing Press___K-8, The Art of Teaching Writing. New Edition, Lucy Calkins, Heinemann___K-8, Hows It Going?: A Practical Guide to Conferencing. Carl Anderson,Heinemann___8-12, Inside Out: Developmental Strategies for Teaching Writing. Dan Kirby & Tom Liner, Boynton/Cook (Heinemann)___8-12, Beat Not The Poor Desks. Marie Ponsot & Rosemary Deen, Heinemann___8-12, Writing With Passion. Tom Romano, Heinemann___ 8-12, Authors Insights: Turning Teenagers Into Readers and Writer. Donald Gallo, Boynton/Cook (Heinemann)___K-12, Writing and the Writer. Frank Smith, Holt, Rinehart, & Winston___K-12, Drawing Your Own Conclusions. Fran Claggett, Heinemann___K-12, Live Writing: Breathing Life Into Your Words. Ralph Fletcher, Avon Books___K-12, Writing Workshop. Ralph Fletcher & JoAnn Portalupi, Heinemann___ K-12, Portfolio Source Book. Vermont Portfolio Institue, discoverwriting.comON TEACHING WRITING ACROSS THE CURRICULUM___Roots in the Sawdust,.Anne Ruggles Gere, National Council of Teachers of English___Learning to Write, Writing to Learn. John Mayher, et. al., Heinemann___Writing & Learning Across the Curriculum. Nancy Martin, et. al., Heinemann 18
    • ___Writing to Learn. Willim Zinsser, Harper and Row___ The Journal Book. Toby Fulwiler, ed., Boynton/Cook-Heinemann___ The Interdisciplinary Teacher’s Handbook. Stephen Tchudi & Stephen Lafer, Boynton/Cook (Heinemann)ON HANDBOOKS___ K-12, The Write Source Series of Handbooks, Houghton Mifflin___ K-12, The Right Handbook. Pat Belanoff, et al, Boynton/Cook (Heinemann)ON TEACHING 19
    • DEVELOPINGTHE WRITING I.Q.* PROGRAM: *(I = Impact of content, Q = Quality of language) A Strengths-Based, Best Practices Process Journal and Resource Guide for Teachers K - 12 By Jim Evers Dominican College Writing Project DEVELOPING 20
    • TABLE OF CONTENTSINTRODUCTION...................................................................................................1 -10 Bane of Superintendents Day Three Principles for Teachers of Writing What You Can Expect from Using This Process Journal Why a Common Curriculum is Needed Some Classroom Issues Putting Marks on Papers Rubrics and Guides Writers Guide and Assessment tool Back Ground of the Writing I.Q. Program Being a Writing Coach Where the Content of this Publication Came From Professional Writing Final Thoughts Suggested Structure for Seminar Charge to Teachers PART ONESEMINAR PROCESS AND CURRICULUM DEVLEOPMENT JOURNAL........11Section One:EXPLORING LOCALREALITIES.....................................................................................11 Step 1. Clarifying Your Thoughts Aboutwriting....................................................11 Step 2. Collecting Local BestPractices...................................................................14 Step 3. Identifying Other Widely-Used BestPractices...........................................16 Step 4. Reviewing KeyResources..........................................................................16Section Two:BUILDING THE WRITING IQ GUIDE AND ASSESSMENT TOOL Step 1. Critiquing Collected WritingSamples........................................................22 Step 2. Putting it All Together in a Writing I.Q. Writers Guide and Assessment Tool....................................................................................................26 21
    • ___ The Courage to Teach. Parker J. Palmer, Jossey-Bass PublishersON WRITING FOR ONE’S SELF AND FOR PUBLICATION___ A Writer’s Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You. Ralph Fletcher, Avon___ Accidental Genius: Revolutionize Your Thinking Through Private Writing, MarkLevy, Berrett-Koeheler___Discovering the Writer Within. Bruce Ballenger and Barry Lane, Writers Digest___Writing Down the Bones. Natalie Goldberg, Shambala Press___Writing Toward Home. Georgia Heard, Heinemann___ Writing for Self Discovery. Barry Lane, Writers Digest___ How to Write the Story of Your Life. Frank P. Thomas, Writers DigestWEB SITES:___www.thewritesource.com ( lots of ideas for teaching writing. I’ve worked for them.) U U___www.merlynspen.com (a magazine that publishes children’s writing)___www.kids-space.org (place for kid’s writing)___ www.discoverwriting.com___www.schoolnotes.com (place for teachers and schools to post notes, free)___www.discoverwriting.com (Barry Lane’s site)___www3.sk.sympatico.ca/fiss/newpage1.htm (Saskatchewan’s excellent resource; note:The site address begins with www3. If you put a dot after the www, you will not reachthe site.) Be sure to bookmark any of these sites.ADDITIONAL RESOURCESACTIVITY B.Purpose: To become more familiar with resources and to cross enrich each other aboutthem.Task: Have a brief sharing session with your colleagues about the resources and theirimportance to your program. Keep a record of additional resources. Also, record who 22
    • seems to be a good source person of a given resource, and who has any given resource U Uand would be willing to share it. Consider collecting your resources into a professionalcollection on the teaching of writing. JOURNAL SECTION TWO: BUILDING THE WRITING IQ WRITERS GUIDE AND ASSESSMENT TOOLSTANDARDS:Most states now have established standards for student writing, and it is important thatyou know and understand these. However, it also is important that you know andunderstand two other sets of standards. These two may be similar to those of your statebut they have a stronger effect and influence than your states on the teaching and theassessing of writing in your classroom and in your school. They are: 1. your own personal set of standards for writing 2 the unwritten collective set of standards of all teachers in your school and in yourdistrict for the teaching of writingAfter so many years of coaching teachers in how to be effective as teachers of writing,and having observed many who have been trained in the state’s standards or in holisticscoring, I’ve found that when they are assessing a piece of writing, most will resort to apersonal set of standards. They make personal judgements that essentially encompassdeep-seated concepts of what an effective piece of writing is and what it isn’t. It is trueeven of those who have participated with others in creating a rubric. This is becausejudgement, almost always, is a personal call. 23
    • Let me illustrate how this is so. Most of us would agree that editors of publishingcompanies who make decisions about selecting a manuscript for publication would allhave similar standards for what constitutes a publishable manuscript and what does not.However, every editor will tell you that on more than one occasion, they have turneddown a manuscript which they judged not worthy of being published, and thendiscovered later that an editor in another publishing company found the same manuscriptto be worthy of publication. Worse, some of these turned-down pieces have becomehighly successful publications. One contemporary example is that of the popular (andquite ubiquitous) Chicken Soup series of books. It is said that over 100 editors turned U Udown the first manuscript before the current publisher chose to publish the first book. .A Principle of this Publication:Assessing writing is a judgement call, and it is so because writing is an art that requiresUbut goes far beyond the strictures of standards and rubrics . UStandards and rubrics can be used to guide instruction and assessment without lockingeither into a rigid system, and in keeping with the commitment of this journal and guide,you will begin the process that leads to effective teaching of writing by first focusing onyou and your strengths.The writers guide/assessment tool that you build will come from your personal set ofstandards and from your colleagues collective personal sets of standards.Once you create a guide for your grade level, you should give it to your students, alongwith an understanding of, and training in, applying it. Having done this, you willeventually discover that your guides will equip your students with writing skills that willdo them well regardless of who reads or assesses their writing, including the statesreaders.A WRITING REALITY:Anytime you (or anyone else) read something that has been written, you are makingmental judgements about the content and about the language. You judge the content bythe impact it makes on you, and you judge the language by the quality of it as used by theauthor. Even though the two work together to create the whole, most likely there arecertain characteristics and standards that you look for in each. 24
    • TWO KEY POINTS:1. The characteristics and standards you look for in any writing represent your personalinternal rubric.2. You have both an obligation and a responsibility to let any writers whom you teachand whose work you assess know and understand your rubric before they begin doing U Uany writing for you.Suggestion:1. It would be best if the lowest of all grades did its guide/assessment tool first so that thenext grade level can build on that and so on up the grade levels. Developmental learningworks best when it builds that way. 2. Do not assume that once the guide/assessment tool is filled in it is finished. It shouldbe revised and adjusted regularly based on actual classroom experiences using it. Andstudents, once they become experienced in using the guide/assessment tool, can/shouldbe involved in the revisions of it, at least for their classroom and possibly for their gradelevel. The tool is never finished, for just as life moves and changes, and as people moveand change so, too, must the Writing I.Q. Writers Guide and Assessment Tool move andchange.STEP 1. CRITIQUING COLLECTED WRITING SAMPLESIts time now to turn to the writing samples you have brought to the workshop. Youshould have with you enough unmarked copies of your three writing samples (a weak, anaverage, and a strong paper) to eventually give each of your grade level colleagues anunmarked set of your three.NOTE: IF THIS SESSION SHOULD END BEFORE GOING ON TO THE REST OFTHE ACTIVITES IN THE JOURNAL, BE SURE TO SAVE ALL POSTED FLIPCHART PAGES FOR LATER ACTIVITIES.ACTIVITY A.Purpose: To have, for yourself, three samples of how you critique a weak, average, andstrong piece of writing at your grade level. 25
    • Task: Working alone, read or re-read each sample that you’ve brought and write on themany comments that you normally would make if you were going to return this paper toU Uthe writer.ACTIVITY B.Purpose: For everyone, at a given grade level or at your table, to have several samples ofhow they critique the three levels of writing at this grade level.Task: Have everyone read and mark all three unmarked copies of everyone elses threesamples.ACTIVITY C. Working with Weak PapersPurpose: To collect generalized criteria used for weak papers at your grade levelTask:A. Have a recording person at the flip chart record generalizations each of you haveabout the characteristics of weak papers at your grade level. U UB. Post this page.C. Record any notes to yourself below. 26
    • ACTIVITY D. Working with Average PapersPurpose: To collect generalized criteria used for average papers at your grade levelTask:A. Do the same for average papers as you did for the weak papers. U UB. Post this page.C. Record any notes to yourself below: 27
    • ACTIVITY E. Working with Strong PapersPurpose: To collect generalized criteria used for strong papers at your grade level.Task:A. Do it one more time for the strong papers. U UB. Post this page.C. Record any notes to yourself below: 28
    • STEP 2. PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER INTO A GUIDE/ASSESSMENT TOOLWhen you look at most writing rubrics and writing guides, you find that the criteria onthese can be divided into two categories: content and language. And because we knowthat assessing any writing is a judgement call, the Writing I.Q. Program takes the positionthat one’s judgement centers on the IMPACT of the content and the QUALITY of the U U Ulanguage . Therein lies the title: The Writing I.Q. Program and you are going to create a Uguide built around these two categories: Impact of the Content and Quality of thelanguage.In this section, you are going to create a writers guide, similar in some ways to othersthat already exist, but different in that it is created by you and your colleagues. But first:Why use a writers guide? Heres the key reason: its the fairest thing to do for yourUstudents because even if you dont have a guide, you still have one hidden in your mindand it surfaces whenever you read a students piece of writing . The journaling youve Ubeen doing so far has been to help you bring your mental writers guide or assessmentrubric to the surface. Once youve done that, you can share it with your students and moreconsciously use it when you do assess their writing. Further, if you give a copy of it to 29
    • each student, and you teach them how to use it, you have moved away from the oldapproach of having the students play "guess what the teacher wants."Most, if not all, writing guides and rubrics usually rate writing at four levels, from weakto strong. Some even have six. Simply by looking visually at most guides, one can sensethat they are far too complex to be of meaningful value to writers as well as to mostteachers who assess the writing. Therefore, it is the position of the Writing I.Q. Programthat, if you are going to use a rubric or a guide, it should have no more than three levels.Thats why you were asked to work on weak, average, and strong level papers, and nowyou have a collection of criteria posted on flip chart pages for these three levels ofpapers.Because the terms weak, average, and strong, are too judgmental, especially for youngwriters, the Writing I.Q. Program is calling these Beginning, Developing, andAdvanced.Also, we are calling this a writing tool and an assessment tool because it is to be used for U Uboth: first as a guide for writers as they are working on an assignment and second as anassessment tool for anyone who works with the writer in assessing the assignment.Your students will need to know the following:1. what constitutes a weak, a developing, and advanced level paper at your grade level,2. how to use the guide/assessment tool for self-help and peer help3. that any assessment of the piece will be about the piece not about the writer (e.g. a teacher might say to a writer, "I feel that your piece certainly is underway and is at a beginning level [giving specific ways you see that it is underway]. Now, what might you do to move it into a developing level or an advanced level?)4. that the writers guide can be changed and modified by student suggestions as well as by teacher suggestions, throughout the school year, as the reality of using it exposeswhat is neededResource: An excellent resource for conferencing is Hows It Going?, by Carl Anderson 30
    • The writing-tool and an assessment-tool that you will now develop will look like this: STAGES OF WRITING BEGINNING DEVELOPING ADVANCED DEVELOPMENT GRADE____ I MPACT OF U U CONTENT 31
    • Sentence structure QUALITY U U OF LANGUAGE Word Choice MechanicsACTIVITY A.Your next activity will be to fill-in the guide by collectively agreeing on the minimalcriteria that will be accepted for each of the two categories (Impact of Content andQuality of Language) in each of the three levels (Beginning, Developing, Advanced) atyour grade level.Purpose: To build a Writing I.Q. Guide/Assessment Tool for your grade level thatincorporates the minimal common criteria for a Beginning, Developing and Advancedlevel piece of writing.Task: 33
    • Look at criteria comments you have posted on the flip chart page for the weak papers U Uand, through discussion, decide for each if it is about the Impact of Content (IC) or if it isabout the Quality of the language (QL). It doesn’t matter if the comments are positive ornegative. Have them fit into either category.1. On another flip chart page, draw a blank version of the Writing IQ Guide/AssessmentTool and then through discussion fill in the minimal criteria that you collectively agreebelong in the Impact of Language category for a beginning (weak) paper and the minimalcriteria that you collectively agree belong in the Quality of Language category.2. Using the posted criteria/comments about average papers, fill in the guide/assessmenttool sections for developing (average) papers.3. Do the same for the advanced (strong) papers.4. Have someone copy the now filled in guide/assessment tool and make copies of it forall teachers at your level and for the teachers at the level immediately after your level.ACTIVITY B.Purpose: To categorize all critiques as either Content or Language.Task: As a group, look at each critique on the three common critiques flip chart pages andmark each critique with an “C” or with an “L” depending on whether it is a critique ofthe Content or of Language (grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.).You now have a collection of common critiques that you and your colleagues agree arehelpful for writers at your grade level, and you’ve indicated whether each critique is aContent critique or a Language critique. What’s important to remember here is that thesecommon critiques are what you collectively have agreed on . They reflect your local U Urealities, not imposed ones.AN ADDITIONAL KEY POINT: You have both an obligation and a responsibility tolet any writers whom you teach and whose work you assess know and understand your U Ulocally created writing guide/assessment tool (or rubric, if you prefer) before they begindoing any writing for you. 34
    • Resource Note: There are plenty of guides and rubrics available these days. States havepublished them, testing services such as Educational Records Bureau (ERB) have them,and many schools have created them. As I said, my problem with most of these is thatthey are too fractional, breaking writing into too many segments that are judged apartfrom the total piece. Im even worried that the Writing IQ Writers Guide and AssessmentTool will fall into that trap. However, by keeping everyone aware of the two categoriesof Impact and Quality, I feel there will be less focus on segments and more on the totalpiece.Years ago I was trained in using the Diedrich Scale, a precursor to todays ubiquitousrubrics. In truth, I never used the Diedrich Scale in my classrooms because I found that itconfused writers more than coached them. Instead, I was found that students and Ipreferred Dan Kirby and Tom Liners two categories: interestingness and technicalskillfulness, which became the model for the IQ Guide.STEP 3. USING THE WRITERS GUIDE/ASSESSEMENT TOOL AND COACHINGWRITERSI feel that teachers of writing have an obligation to give a writers guide/assessment toolto their students and to teach them how to use it themselves while they write or whenthey do any peer coaching. Teachers should also use it when they are coaching studentsin a writing conference. Further, I feel that it is quite helpful to teach the parents how touse it when they are coaching their childs writing at home. Heres how other teachers andI have used it:Self Coaching/Assessing:Once each student has a copy of the grades writers guide/assessment tool, he/she shouldbe taught how to use it for self-coaching. For this to make sense, you might want to makecopies of a beginning, developing, and advanced paper that were written by students atthis grade level (possibly saved from previous year, or from another teachers class). Thepapers should not have the writers names on them nor have content that might make iteasy for some students to identify the writers. What is true of self-coaching is also true of 35
    • self assessing: using the writers guide to make a final assessment of a paper beforehanding it in.Using the sample papers, show very specifically (not abstractly) why each is at the levelit is at and explain the criteria in the content and language sections of each level paper.When students feel they understand, then ask them to regularly use the guide before theysubmit a paper to you and/or before they work with a peer in peer coaching. Everyoneshould begin to use the language of the tool whenever discussing a paper.Peer Coaching/Assessing:Peer coaching is exactly what its name implies: students coaching each other. And itworks quite effectively if all use the class writers guide/assessment tool. There areseveral ways peer coaching can be structured: one-on-one, a group coaching one, a groupcoaching all in the group, or the entire class coaching a student. For any type of peercoaching, some training is necessary. First, all who are willing to coach must be veryfamiliar with the class writers guide/assessment tool. Second, the person being coachedmust be willing, not forced, to receive coaching, Third, and this takes a lot of practice, allcoaches must be taught to make concrete rather than abstract comments about anotherswriting. Instead of saying,"I like all of your details.", get them to say which specific details they like and why.Further, it is best to have coaches begin with the strengths of the paper (content andlanguage) before making any suggestions (not corrections), again being as specific andconcrete as possible.Ive trained students in peer coaching by having five at a time come together with theirpieces during writing workshop, and each person reads his/her paper and the others coachwhile I facilitate, making certain that they are speaking to the writers guide and are beingconcrete. A favorite metaphor that Ive taught students over the years is that of the"empty wrapper." Its one that really sticks with them, as testified by many formerstudents who come back and tell me that they regularly use it. Most school children havehad the experience of another student coming to them with a stick of gum and saying,"Here, you want a stick of gum?" The recipient gladly takes the stick only to discoverthat the giver has removed the gum and neatly replaced the aluminum foil, making it looklike a stick of gum. THATS AN EMPTY WRAPPER, and anytime a child makes astatement in class that is abstract but without anything concrete to back it up, THATSAN EMPTY WRAPPER. 36
    • Kids love this metaphor.Teacher Coaching (conferencing)/Assessing:This is the teacher in a one-on-one conference with a student, and again, as with self- andpeer coaching and assessing, the comments must be centered around the writersguide/assessment tool, they must be strengths-based before suggestions-based, and theymust be specific rather than abstract empty wrappers.Resource: Again, an excellent resource for conferencing is Hows It Going?, by CarlAnderson, HeinemannParent Coaching/Assessing:I feel it is important to teach the parents how to effectively coach their children as writersrather than being correctors of the papers. One way for doing that is to have a WriteNight for parents at which you take them through writing-as-process and explain to themhow to be a coach by using the class writers guide/assessment tool. And dont forget tohave all the teachers at your grade level use the guide, let the teachers in the next gradeknow your guide, and train the administration to use the guide, too.ACTIVITY C.Purpose: To review your own and your peers views on using the WritersGuide/Assessment tool and on coaching.Task:In the space below record your thoughts about the tool and about coaching. Then sharethese with your peers and record any additional thoughts or ideas you may collectivelyhave. 37
    • EXPLORING KEY REALITES OF WRITINGIn this section, you will explore some key elemental realities of writing, first by doingsome actual writing yourself and then by reviewing some related resource material. Thewriting activities are simple experiences that are used with students, but they will provehelpful to you if you do them yourself before having your students do them.ACTIVITY A.Purpose: to experience the building of fluency through free writing.Task:Free Writing: In the space below, write non-stop for three minutes about anything thatcomes to mind. Let your words go where your mind leads. Pay no attention to structure,spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Just write. 39
    • Writing is a skill, and as such it must be practiced if it is to be learned.Supportive Resource Material:Those of you who have been teaching writing for some time may remember the works ofKen Macrorie and the works of Peter Elbow, the early promoters of free writing/speedwriting. We all owe a huge debt to Macrorie and Elbow. They got us out of the role ofbeing grammar and spelling police and into the role of being writers and coaches ofwriters.A contemporary resource you may want to turn to in your own personal use of freewriting comes from outside of education. It is ACCIDENTAL GENIUS: RevolutionizeYour Thinking Through Private Writing, by Mark Levy (Berrett-Koeheler). WhatMacrorie and Elbow called free writing, Levy calls "private writing," and his book showsit as a way for stimulating thinking skills and finding ideas, as well as for improvingones writing skills. To get the most out of Levys book, you must do the exercises.Powerful stuff.In their book, Learning to Write/Writing to Learn (Boynton/Cook Heinemann), Meyer,Lester, and Pradl, say that “Research indicates that the only way one learns to write is bywriting...there is no substitute for extensive experience with writing itself” (page 1).Further, authors Ponsot and Deen (two authors who greatly influenced me; you will meetthem shortly), call "prolificness" an elemental skill of writing that needs to be regularlypracticed. Free writing is one of the quickest ways to begin building "prolificness" andfluency. As children do free writing, they begin to become familiar with and comfortablewith putting words on page. Meyer, Lester, and Pradl refer to writing as “...a personallyengaging transaction through which the learner makes her own connections and buildsher own meaning.” Free writing is a good process for getting the transactions andmeanings flowing. 41
    • ACTIVITY B.Purpose: To experience the minimal elements of an essayTask:A. Think of several opinions you have about any thing you know you could support withkey facts. Select one of your opinions and write this opinion as a simple sentence at thedot below. Then go to “B." .B. Above, underneath the opinion sentence you’ve written, write one sentence of one U U U Ufactual proof to support your opinion.You now have two elements: an opinion and a supportive fact.A WRITING-REALITY: There are two minimal content elements in any essay: an Uabstract (opinion) element and a concrete (supportive fact) element . If these two Uelements, and only these two elements appear in a student’s writing, you have what couldbe called a “weak” paper. Anything less should be considered an incomplete paper.Supportive Resource Material:The work on minimal elements of writing comes from two excellent resources written byRosemary Deen and Marie Ponsot: Beat Not The Poor Desk, Boynton Cook (nowHeinemann), 1998 and The Common Sense: What to Write, How to Write It, and Why,Boynton/Cook (now Heinemann), 1985. Their work is based on experiences they’ve hadteaching writing seminars at Queens College, New York and in various public highschools in the New York City area.It is their point of view that once students of any age begin, through practice, to learn thatall writing is built around the two elements, an abstract statement and a concrete element,their writing begins to take on shape. Yes, at first the shape may be repetitious and even 42
    • stilted (as in the “sandwich" structure that elementary schools like to use or in thestandard five paragraph essay that high schools often encourage), but through progressivedevelopmental writing experiences, students begin to realize that the effective writing isreally a dance between these two elements.To help students build writing that is shaped around the abstract and the concrete, Ponsottand Deen begin by encouraging students to practice two key genres: fables and familyparables. A fable, as most children know, is built around a concrete story and its abstractaphorism (moral). Family parables are the personal narratives or family stories often toldin families and that carry a deeper message. Parables are also built around a concretestory and its abstract moral (often implied rather than stated).More about elemental writing can be found in Ponsot and Deen’s books, centering onwhat they believe writing is: “an ordering of what the writer has in mind” (CommonSense, 6). The key word here is “ordering,” and since most of the writing required inschools is either a narrative or an expository essay, Ponsot and Deen give a lot ofdirection in teaching the "orderings" of these two forms. And to all of this, they concludethat the key to doing well in writing ("ordering") is to do it often and to work from theelemental forms that already lie deep within us, particularly in our oral languageexperiences: fables, parables, sermons, anecdotes, and even riddles, epitaphs, andprayers...all covering an abstract and a concrete whole (See Beat Not The Poor Desk).ACTIVTY C.Purpose: to experience the "elementalness" of a fableTask: Try writing a fable of your own about some animals whose words and actionspoint to a moral. For example, a cat has been stalking a mouses nest, and when themouse comes out, the cat traps him. Have a converstaion between the mouse and cat thatleads to an aphorism, moral, adage, or maxim. 43
    • A WRITING REALITY: A fable nicely shows the interactions of the concrete and theabstract.ACTIVITY D.Purpose: to experience the elementalness of a family parable.Task: Think of three or four family stories that are/were often told in your family.Select one that you’d like to write as a parable that carries a deeper meaning and writethe story here: 44
    • A WRITING REALITY: A family parable nicely shows the interactions of theconcrete and the abstract. 45
    • ACTIVITY E.Purpose: To experience the "elementalness" of an opinion essayTask: Using the opinion/fact statement that you wrote earlier, or using any other opinionthat you’d like to write about, write a short, fact-packed essay about your opinion. 46
    • 47
    • A WRITING REALITY: A fact-packed opinion-based essay nicely shows theinteractions of the concrete and the abstract.Now that you have some samples of your own writing, look at each and decide(privately) how well you did in the impact of the content and the quality of the language.A WRITING REALITY: Anytime you (or anyone else) read something that has beenwritten, you are making mental judgements about the content and about the language.You judge the content by the impact it makes on you, and you judge the language by thequality of it as used by the author. Even though the two work together to create thewhole, most likely there are certain characteristics and standards that you look for ineach.TWO KEY POINTS:1. The characteristics and standards you look for in any writing represent your personalinternal rubric.2. You have both an obligation and a responsibility to let any writers whom you teachand whose work you assess know and understand your rubric before they begin doing U Uany writing for you. 48
    • Review Section One:WIDELY-USED BEST CLASSROOM PRACTICESA. Writing-As-Process (Process Writing)Simply put, coaching writing-as-process, also called process writing, means that youguide the students through phases of the composing process. The phases have come to becalled prewriting, drafting (or first draft), revising, editing, and publishing. Thoughwriting-as-process is practiced in many elementary schools, it is an important practice forwriters in any grade.Writing-as-process (process writing) is a practice that honors both the process and theproduct, not one at the expense of the other. However, the phases of writing-as-processare not meant to be rigidly linear but rather a guide to, and an understanding of, the flowthat leads from idea to product. Some writers often move back and forth in the phases,and some occasionally even skip or quickly pass through one of the phases when theyfeel the piece is ready for going on.BACKGROUND of WRITING-AS-PROCESSTeaching writing as a process is not a new practice. Good teachers of writing have longtaught that there is more to writing an assignment than just sitting down and beginning towrite. Some of us were taught that before writing, we had to do some planning (In myday, the planning had to be a formal outline.), then we were to write the piece, and finallywe were to give it some careful editing before we handed in a clean copy. (And this wasbefore computers and word processors existed.)The practice of teaching writing-as-process began to grow slowly in the 1960s, as articleson it appeared in the various publications, especially those of the National Council ofTeachers of English (NCTE). Then in the late 1970s, writing-as-process got a great pushfrom the San Francisco area by the Bay Area Writing Project at the University ofCalifornia, Berkeley. As the practice spread, it gained significant momentum from thework of Don Graves, and his associates, at the University of New Hampshire and theNational Institute of Education (NIE). 50
    • Graves seminal and widely influential book, WRITING: Teachers & Children at Work(Heinemann, 1983), helped to revolutionize the way writing is taught in schoolsthroughout the English speaking world. Another of Graves books, A Fresh Look atWriting (Heinemann, 1994), is a comprehensive resource of classroom practices forteaching of writing.Lucy Mc Cormick Calkins, one of Graves associates at the University of NewHampshire, has also become a major voice in revitalizing (awakening would be a betterword) the teaching of writing in the elementary grades. In her best selling book The Artof Teaching Writing and her Writing Project at Teachers College, Columbia University,NY, Calkins shows writing workshop to be one of the key best practices in the teachingof writing. (See Writers Workshop that follows.)There are good resources for activities and practices related to coaching writing-as-process, but in keeping with the premise that there are some good practices already inplace in your classroom and in your school, you should review these local practices first.For this, you might want to return to page xx to review your notes on Best Practices.A caveat: Not all students like to make written plans before they write. Some willstrongly resist doing so. They prefer to jump right in and write. Peter Elbow in his book,Writing Without Teachers, likes this approach. He calls this early draft a form of planningfrom which several drafts may yet come leading to a strong piece of writing. Rather thaninsist that all students do written plans for every piece of writing, it may be morebeneficial for the resistant writer to come to realize that an unplanned draft is but arehearsal. It needs to be carefully reviewed for revisions before writing a final draft.Actually, many writers, myself included, find they do a lot more mental planning andrehearsing that goes beyond any written plans. And, yes, on occasion, there will bewriters who write an exceptional or relatively exceptional piece on the first draft withoutplanning.Some reluctant planners may find that they enjoy doing their plans visually as an artpiece. For help in encouraging this, see Drawing Your Own Conclusions by FranClaggett. (See also Beat Not The Poor Desks, by Ponsot and Deen.) 51
    • Activity 1. Best Practices for Coaching Writing-As-ProcessDiscuss with your colleagues key activities for helping students do prewriting, drafting,revising, and editing. Have someone record these activities on a flip chart and then postthe chart. Next to each activity, write the names of teachers willing to mentor others inusing the activity. Record, below, activities that you already use and ones you intend touse from your colleagues. Be sure to include the mentors names. 52
    • SAMPLE PRACTICE FOR COACHING WRITING AS PROCESSTo make this practice clear to her middle school children,Rosemary Faucette, a teacher in Arkansas, used a very creativeidea. She gave each student a container of multi-coloredPlay-Doh and told them that they were going to sculpt apencil holder for their pens and pencils by following a processsimilar to the writing process: planning the pencil holder, makinga first form, revising the first form, and then polishingit into its final state.As she led them through the sculpting process, Faucetteconstantly compared the sculpting process to the writing process.After the students had completed their pencil holders, Ms. Faucetteguided the students in noting in their journals how the two processeswere similar and what they had learned about the writing processfrom the sculpting experience.The next day, she asked the students to write a letter to herexplaining the writing process, without using their notes. Shegot wonderful pieces of writing, showing that the studentslearned well from this hands-on activity. One student told herthat he was now going to be a sculptor with words.(From the article,"Using Play-Doh to Teach the Writing Process," 53
    • Rosemary Faucette, in NCTEs Ideas Plus, Book 15, 1997. See www.ncte.org/notesplus/ideas_classroom/play-doh.shtml)SAMPLE PRACTICE FOR SHOWING THE NEED FOR DETAILS THAT FITAND FLOWHere s a successful activity I learned from Barry Lane, author of after THE END(Heinemann 1995), and to whom I am indebted for many of my successful classroompractices in coaching writing.I am frequently invited into schools to model the coaching process. In one of mymodeling sessions, I do the following Barry Lane activity: I begin by asking the studentsif they want to hear a story from my life when I was their age. "Yes," they collectivelyshout."Okay, do you want to hear about when I was scared or when I was naughty?""Tell us the naughty story," they most often say. (I have both ready.)"Well, once, when I was your age, I disobeyed one of my parents rules and got introuble."I wait a few seconds, looking at the expectant students (This is exactly how Barry doesit!) and then say, "Wasnt that a good story?"Immediately, the students say, "Thats not a story."So I say, "Why not?"One of them will say, "You didnt give any details." (Barry calls this the magic "D"word.) 54
    • "Oh," I say, "you want details? Well here are some." I then proceed to give details aboutChicago where I grew up...lots of details, but they are all extraneous, ones that do notspeak to my naughty experience.Eventually, someones going to say, "What about being naughty?"To which, I say, "You just said you wanted details, and so I gave you lots of details. Youdidnt say details about my naughtiness." And then I add (and this is very important to getacross) "I can see that you understand that a story has to have details and that the detailshave to fit the story. Thats good, so here goes..."I begin to tell the story, with details that fit, but this time I give the details in a disjointedway (obviously out of sequence) and eventually some ones going to say, Your story isout of order." And after probing about what that means, I eventually say, "Oh you wantdetails to be in sequence."And then add (again very important), "Im impressed that you know and understand that astory needs details that both FIT and FLOW." (A content catch phrase that studentsquickly take to!)Finally, I apologize for being playful with them and say, "Now I will tell the story, as youhave explained to me, with details that FIT and FLOW. I then proceed to tell the story,and when I get to the key moment of the story, I use another Barry Lane goodie: I"explode the moment," with lots of sensory details. (See page 65 in Barrys after THEEND.)After the story, I have the students recall details and the flow of the story. I furtherexplain (to 3 rd graders and up, including middle school, high school, and adults) the P Pconcept of "exploded moments." (In expository essays, the term becomes "explodedidea.")Theres much more that a creative teacher can do with this activity, depending on the ageand attention level of the students. My favorite follow-up activity is to have the studentspair off and tell each other stories from their lives. While one tells the other listens forFIT and FLOW. The listener shares what he/she heard and then the students switchroles. Eventually, the activity leads to a cluster (web) of their story and a writing of a firstdraft. I try to keep my modeling lesson and the follow-up activity within the allotted timefor Writing Workshop.Activity 2. Key Resources of Coaching Writing-as-ProcessHave a discussion with your colleagues about key resources each is familiar U Uwith for helping in the coaching of writing-as-process. Record your noteshere. 55
    • Other Key Resources for Coaching Writing-as-ProcessIn addition to the resources already mentioned of Don Graves, Lucy Calkins, theSaskatchewan web site, the NCTE web site, and Barry Lane, teachers will find good stuffin Lanes Revisers Toolbox (Discover Writing Press, 1999) and his web site. Teacherswill also find good stuff in Ralph Fletchers Live Writing (Avon Books, 1999), and in his 56
    • A Writers Notebook (Avon Books, 1996). Most of these resources are used byelementary teachers, but Ive found them quite helpful in working with upper gradestudents as well.Specifically for the upper grades (but good for any writing coach), I often turn to Ponsotand Deans Beat Not the Poor Desks (Boynton-Heinemann 1982), Kirby and LinersInside Out (Boynton-Heinemann 1981), Peter Elbows Writing With Power (OxfordUniversity Press, 1981), John Mayher, Nancy Lester, and Gordon Pradls Learning toWrite; Writing to Learn (Boynton-Heinemann 1983), and Tom Romanos Writing withPassion (Boynton-Heinemann 1993.)B. The Writing WorkshopSimply put, the writing workshop is a dedicated classroom time-period set aside forstudents to work on writing and includes a variety of practices.In the opening chapter of their book, Writing Workshop (Heinemann 2001),Ralph Fletcher and JoAnn Portalupi, say it well: Teaching kids how to write is hard. Thats because writing is not so much one skill as a bundle of skills that includes sequencing, spelling, rereading, and supporting big ideas with examples. But these skills are teachable. And we believe that a writing workshop creates an environment where students can acquire these skills, along with fluency, confidence, and desire to see themselves as writers (1).Fletcher and Portalupi compare the writing workshop to a classroom of industrial artsstudents in which each student or possibly group of students is busy working on apersonal project. The instructor may take a little time to show the whole class a specifictool or a specific skill before the students go to their work area to work on the project.The instructor usually moves about the room, checking how each project is going orconducts a longer conference with a given student or project group.In an hours writing workshop, the little lesson is called the mini-lesson; it lasts usuallyno more than ten minutes. The bulk of the time, say 40 minutes, is used for individuals orgroups working on a personal writing project or doing peer coaching or peer editing.There is usually time saved for sharing some individual writing with the group. Many 57
    • teachers, as part of the sharing process, have a chair designated as the writers chair. Thestudent who is sharing his/her paper sits in the writers chair and reads to the group.The important point of the writing workshop is that it is a dedicated time for everyone tobe working on writing. (Key Resource: Lucy Calkins The Art of Teaching Writing)ADDITIONAL NOTES FOR WRITING WORKSHOP 58
    • 59
    • C. The Mini-LessonUsually given at the beginning of a writing workshop, a mini-lesson is a short -- tenminutes, maximum -- lesson by the teacher on a very specific point or issue such as apunctuation need, a grammar issue, a procedural issue, a writing technique (e.g. usingstrong verbs, creating catchy leads, building transitions), or whatever specific item theteacher feels would benefit the whole class. When the mini-lesson ends, the students goto their own on-going writing project. The power of the mini-lesson comes from its well-focused succinctness and the encouragement of the teacher for the students to apply whatthey have learned into their writing. Children, parents, and other guests may beencourged to give a mini-lesson, too. (Key resources for mini-lessons: Lucy CaulkinsThe Art of Teaching Writing, and Don Graves A Fresh Look at Writing.)ADDITIONAL NOTES ON MINI-LESSONS 60
    • 61
    • D. PortfoliosIn the same way that artists collect their work into a portfolio, so also writers in a writingworkshop classroom keep their writing in a portfolio. Some teachers and some schoolsuse the portfolio for assessing individual progress; others use it as a collection of workthat encourages the young writer to become aware of his/her personal efforts. Much hasbeen written about what should and should not go into a writers portfolio, what should orwhat should not be used for evaluating a given writer, and whether or not the portfolio isthe main source of a students grade. The key here, as in all best practices, is that it is upto you and your colleagues to determine how portfolios are to be used. (Key resources onusing portfolios: Don Graves A Fresh Look at Teaching Writing, Graves PortfolioPortraits (with Bonnie Sunstein) and Barry Lanes Portfolio Source Book)ADDITIONAL NOTES ON PORTFOLIOS 62
    • 63
    • E. Self/Peer/Teacher/Parent Coaching/ConferencingFor all forms of coaching/conferencing, it is best to do some training in how to make asession work well. They will work well if the participants use a writers guide/assessmenttool and if the session is focused on specific strengths before focusing on specificsuggestions (Call them suggestions rather than weaknesses.). In making suggestions, theresponsibility of the coach is to let the piece remain the work of the writer, not the coach.In other words, the coach should not rewrite the piece but instead coach the writer intomaking revisions that the writer feels would improve the piece. (Key Resources onConferencing: Lucy Calkins The Art of Teaching Writing, Don Graves A Fresh Look atWriting, and Carl Andersons Hows It Going?)ADDITIONAL NOTES ON CONFERENCING 64
    • 65
    • F. Talk-WriteThere are several versions of this practice; here are two:Put students into groups of two or three and have each group go to a section of theblackboard or to a posted sheet of newsprint or oak tag, to do some writing as a team.Either with a free choice of topic or with an assigned topic, have each team plan theirwriting by talking it out while one member of the team writes what the group wantswritten -- crossing out and changing as they progress towards a draft that will be sharedwith the rest of the class.Another version of this is to pair students and have each member of the pair tell the othera story from his/her personal life (personal narrative), taking about three or four minutesto do so. The listener listens, especially for details: are there enough, are there too many,do they fit, and do they flow? The listener shares reactions with the speaker, and then theroles switch so that the other member tells and the first one listens for details. After thetalk part comes the write part: each member then writes her/his story based on the oraltelling and on the suggestions of the listener.ADDITIONAL NOTES ON TALK-WRITE 66
    • 67
    • G. Free Writing/Speed WritingIn their journals, have students write for about five minutes, non-stop, either about anopen topic or a given topic. Let them know that the purpose of this is to give themexperience in being fluent, in putting thoughts on paper, and that correctness of grammar,punctuation, and such will not be checked. Some teachers have students share whattheyve written; others do not. If comments are made by listeners, stress that they must bespecific (concrete) rather than empty wrappers (abstract).Speed writing is a variation of free writing. The writers objective in speed writing is toproduce a high number of words about a given topic in a three minute time period.After the time expires, the students each count the number of words theyve written andrecord that on the journal page. The next day, their objective is to write more words thanthe day before, and so on until a comfortable flow is established for each individual.Some students, just to gain a high word count will keep repeating a single word such asthe, the, the, or and, and, and. Instruct them that the words have to be written as thoughtsthat flow and that "word stutters" dont count.ADDITIONAL NOTES ON FREE WRITING/SPEED WRITING 68
    • 69
    • H. Demand WritingWhen students have to write an essay or any other genre within a set time limit for an in-class test or for a standardized test, this writing is called demand writing. It is veryhelpful to give students frequent practice experiences in doing demand writing. Theyneed to practice understanding the prompts of a demand assignment, and the doing of theplanning, the writing, and the revising all within the allotted time. Suggest to studentsthat in the allotted time, they use about 1/4 of the time for planning, 1/2 for writing, andone 1/4 for revision. (Resources: Bookstores carry books for students preparing to takenational standardized tests. Most of these include demand-writing help. Also, in theAppendix see "How to Write Effective Timed Essays [Demand-Writing].")I. Speed PlanningAs practice for demand writing, frequently give students a demand assignment for whichthey must just do the planning within five minutes (or 1/4 of the allotted time for the fulldemand writing). Share the critiquing of these so that students become competent andcomfortable in planning a demand piece of writing. 70
    • J. Journal, Writers Notebook, Journaling"Journal" and "writers notebook" are terms that both refer to an item in which a studentrecords thoughts, reactions, ideas, or anything else. "Journaling" refers to the specific useof the journal. Journaling should be encouraged both in class and elsewhere. Someteachers have students write responses to a piece of literature in their journals orresponses to the work of the day, and the teacher reads and responds to these entries.Other teachers use it as a way for students to record their thinking without having toshare this with the teacher. A writers notebook is used for recording ideas for and aboutwriting, in much the same way professional writers use a writers notebook.It is best to distinguish the journal and writers notebook from a diary, which is verypersonal and is not necessarily a storehouse of a writers ideas and such like. (Most of thekey resources include something on journaling. The Key resource for writers notebook isRalph Fletchers A Writers Notebook.)ADDITIONAL NOTES ON JOURNALS, NOTEBOOKS AND JOURNALING 72
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    • K. GenresAs more states are now requiring students to write demand essays of various genres, it isimportant to give students experience and training in writing various genres. It is best tofind which genres your state usually uses. The various genres can include: personalnarrative, a report, autobiography, biography, creative story, journalistic piece; andvarious types of essays such as expository/opinion, persuasion essay, problem solving,cause and effect, compare and contrast, description, definition, discussion, reflection, andreview. Each has specific prompts that let the writer know which genre is expected.ADDITIONAL NOTES ON GENRES 74
    • 75
    • L. Multi-Genre WritingIn the upper grades, particularly, but also in all grades, some teachers are encouragingstudents to mix various genres. Let a poem come into an essay, or a creative piece ofdescription or even a dramatic scene or dialog come into a report. In journalism, this iscalled creative-non-fiction, a genre that has been in use for many years by writers. Somestudents take well to it. (Key resource for multi-genre writing is Tom Romanos Writingwith Passion: Life Stories, Multiple Genres)ADDITIONAL NOTES ON MULTI-GENRE WRITING 76
    • 77
    • M. Writing Across The CurriculumWriting across the curriculum has become a significant development in recent years asmore and more teachers are discovering the value of using writing in every subject. Inmath, science, social studies, music, art, even physical education, teachers use journaling,topical free writing, summary notes, reports, logs, demand-writing, and multi-genrewriting. And some standardized tests are now asking for writing in subject areas. (KeyResources: John Mayhers Learning to Write; Writing to Learn, and Ann Geres Roots inthe Sawdust)ADDITIONAL NOTES ON WRITING ACROSS THE CURRICULUM 78
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    • N. HandbooksAs language quality issues such as grammar, usage, and punctuation arise, teachers mayneed to turn to sources such as handbooks for guidance. Handbooks are most helpful forpresenting mini-lessons on a given concept or convention of Standard English. (KeyResources: any of the Write Source Series of handbooks for various grades throughcollege, and The Right Handbook by Pat Belanoff, et. al. Also, try creating a booklet ofthe key conventions for your grade level. See the Appendix for "Common Errors andMistakes to Avoid in Using English.")ADDITIONAL NOTES ON HANDBOOKS 80
    • 81
    • O. History of English LanguageEnglish is a complex language that is often complicated for both native and non-nativespeakers. Its rules and its exceptions to the rules of grammar, punctuation, and spellingconfuse many people. English became a complex language over the centuries because itis an amalgamation of several other languages that have impacted its root as a Germaniclanguage. It has especially been influenced by French and Latin. When students learn thefascinating history of English, they usually gain a deeper appreciation of English and itscomplexities and a deeper appreciation of all languages.(Resources: See the Appendix for "Brief History of English." Also, most libraries havebooks on the history of languages, including English.)ADDITIONAL NOTES ON HISTORY OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE 82
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    • P. Suggested Supportive Practices1. Build a database of best practices to which all teachers contribute.2. Create a colleague mentoring program for working with new teachers.3. Train the parents in how to be writing coaches rather than judges or editors.ADDITIONAL NOTES ON SUPPORTIVE PRACTICES 84
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    • SUMMARY OF KEY RESOURCES BOOKSON TEACHING WRITING(K-12) after THE END: Teaching and Learning Creative Revision. Barry Lane.Heinemann, 1993.When children in the lower grades finish writing, they like to write in very large letters atthe bottom the words THE END. Building on that, Barry delightfully shows how to helpstudents of any grade level go back and revise what theyve written. He gives lots ofpractical activities and some excellent metaphors that help students understand how to 86
    • add more impact in their writing. One is his "exploded moment" metaphor in which hehelps the writer find the key moment of an experience and then explode it with sensorydetails. Another is his suggestion to use mental binoculars to focus more tightly and moreclearly on a scene or on an idea one is writing about. After reading and learning from thisbook, teachers will be much better equipped to get students to know that revision is anongoing, creative process, not just a clean-up process.(K-8) A Fresh Look at Writing. Donald H. Graves. Heineman, 1994.This book expands on Graves 1983 seminal work, Writing: Teachers and Children atWork, the book that gave so many teachers guidance in teaching writing and in the craftof writing. In Fresh Look, Graves revisits in new ways many of the practices that havenow become widely incorporated in effective teaching of writing: conferencing,portfolios, mini-lessons, record keeping, writing as process, and so much more. Its atreasure-trove resource that inspires teachers to bring the joys of writing into their ownlives as well as into the lives of students.(K-8) Reviser’s Toolbox. Barry Lane. Discover Writing Press, discoverwriting.com.,1999.As an in-demand speaker and workshop leader, Lane travels a lot and in so doing he hascollected hundreds of activities from teachers for making revision both fun and effective.He literally has given us a toolbox loaded with tools.(K-8) The Art of Teaching Writing. New Edition, Lucy McCormick Calkins. Heinemann,1994.Along with Don Graves, Lucy Calkins has had a profound influence on the teaching ofwriting. More than anyone else, Calkins has championed the writing workshop as thefoundation of a schools language arts program. The first edition, published in 1986 andwidely used, put Calkins in the forefront of teaching writing in most of the English speaking parts of the world. In this new eddition, she keeps all of the richness, wisdom, and practicality of the original as she tells how she herself has grown as a teacher ofwriting, as a parent, and as a writer since the first edition. Its a very honest and importantbook; one that should be used by all teachers of writing.(K-8) Hows It Going?: A Practical Guide to Conferencing. Carl Anderson. Heinemann,2000. 87
    • Carl Anderson, as part of Lucy Calkins Writing Project at Columbia University, hasgiven us an insiders perspective on having a writers conference with a student. Heallows us to look over his shoulder as he works with young writers, and he gives us thelanguage to use and other important advice on how to make these conferences moreeffective.(8-12) Inside Out: Developmental Strategies for Teaching Writing. Dan Kirby & TomLiner. Boynton/Cook (Heinemann), 1981.In this "goodie," the two authors show respect for the learner and for the craft of teachingwriting as a process that moves from the inside out rather than being pushed in on thelearner. Conferencing, writers guides, free writing, journaling, voice, revision, andgenres are just some of the topics they cover, and they cover these well. Though thisbook is more for class work in the upper grades, all teachers would highly benefit fromreading it.(8-12) Beat Not The Poor Desks: Writing: What to Teach, How to Teach it and Why.Marie Ponsot & Rosemary Deen. Heinemann, 1982.If you want mental stimulation that will awaken your thinking along with giving yousome profound insights about the teaching of writing, then this is the book to readregardless of what grade you teach. It will not only change your thinking about theteaching of writing, but it will change your habits of doing so. Based on work at QueensCollege, New York and in various New York high schools, the authors take us deepinside the art and skill of writing and the art and skill of teaching writing. They beginwith what they call elemental realities of writing, and move from there to a deepenedunderstanding of the roots of the fable, the parable, and other literary structures that canand should impact student writing.(8-12) Writing With Passion: Life Stories, Multiple Genres. Tom Romano. Heinemann,1995.Shortly before I retired, one of my former students came to visit. She had completed herMA work for becoming an English teacher. In talking with her about the teaching ofwriting, she said, "Get Romanos book." I did, and I discovered why she wanted me to.Romano practices what he preaches; he writes with definite passion as he shares hispersonal life stories, his practical suggestions for teaching writing, and his long years as ahigh school English teacher. And, as an advocate of multi-genre writing (creative-non- 88
    • fiction), he intersperses his writing with mixed genre. Its a joy to read as well as apractical guide to have.(K-12) Writing and the Writer. Frank Smith. Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1982.Many teachers of reading and writing credit Frank Smith for opening their minds to theconsequences of a more effective way of teaching than that of the negative "drill and kill"method. Graves and Calkins certainly do. All of us, teachers, administrators, and parentscan learn a great deal from reading anything Frank Smith has written, including thisbook.(K-12) Drawing Your Own Conclusions: Graphic Strategies for Reading, Writing,Thinking. Fran Claggett. Heinenman, 1992.Fran Claggett, with the help of Joan Brown, shows how graphics can help students makemeaning of what they read, write, or think. Filled with visuals done by students, the bookmakes a clear case for making connections visually. It shows the strategies for doing so,based on years of working with high school students.(K-12) Live Writing: Breathing Life Into Your Words. Ralph Fletcher. Avon Books,1999.This little book is a gem for helping young writers make their writing come alive, or as Ralph Fletcher puts it, "the kind of writing that has a current running through it --energy, electricity, juice." He shows writers how to do that; he gives them a toolboxfilled with practical suggestions. Teachers will also want to get Fletchers companionbook, A Writers Notebook, in which he encourages writers of all ages to lead a writerlylife.(K-12) A Writers Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You. Ralph Fletcher, Avon Books, 1996.Fletcher, a writer of books for adults and children, calls the writers notebook the place where one can live like a writer, recording thoughts, ideas, reactions, creations any time and anywhere, not just in school. Encouraging young writers to do this isencouraging them, to live the "writerly life." And living the "writerly life" is somethingteachers of writing can benefit from doing too.(K-12) Writing Workshop: The Essential Guide. Ralph Fletcher & JoAnn Portalupi. 89
    • Heinemann, 2001.For teachers who want to make writing a central focus of their classrooms rather thansandwiching in a little time for it, this is the guidebook. It give us the essentials of adedicated time called writing workshop. In a writing workshop, students go beyond just producing a product for the teacher; instead, say the authors, they are likeapprentices learning the craft of writing in an environment that encourageslearning guided by a master, the teacher.(K-12) Portfolio Source Book. Vermont Portfolio Institute. discoverwriting.com, 1994.What goes into a students writing portfolio and how is the portfolio integrated into thereading and writing curriculum? Thats what is answered here, along with lots ofsamples and suggestions. OTHER RESOURCESTEACHING WRITING ACROSS THE CURRICULUMRoots in the Sawdust. Anne Ruggles Gere. National Council of Teachers of EnglishLearning to Write, Writing to Learn. John Mayher, et. al., HeinemannWriting & Learning Across the Curriculum. Nancy Martin, et. al., HeinemannWriting to Learn. William Zinsser. Harper and RowThe Journal Book. Toby Fulwiler, ed., Boynton/Cook-HeinemannThe Interdisciplinary Teacher’s Handbook. Stephen Tchudi & Stephen Lafer.Boynton/Cook (Heinemann)HANDBOOKSThe Write Source Series of Handbooks, Houghton MifflinThe Right Handbook, Belanoff, et. al., Boyton/Cook (Heinemann)ON TEACHINGThe Courage to Teach. Parker J. Palmer. Jossey-Bass PublishersLearning by Teaching. Donald M. Murray, Boyton/Cook (Heinemann)ON WRITING FOR ONE’S SELF AND FOR PUBLICATION 90
    • A Writer’s Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You. Ralph Fletcher. AvonAccidental Genius: Revolutionize Your Thinking Through Private Writing. Mark LevyBerrett-KoehelerDiscovering the Writer Within. Bruce Ballenger and Barry Lane. Writers DigestWriting Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg, Shambala PressWriting Toward Home. Georgia Heard. HeinemannWriting for Self Discovery. Barry Lane. Writers DigestHow to Write the Story of Your Life. Frank P. Thomas. Writers DigestWEB SITES:www.thewritesource.com ( lots of ideas for teaching writing.) U Uwww.merlynspen.com (a magazine that publishes children’s writing)www.kids-space.org (place for kid’s writing)www.schoolnotes.com (place for teachers and schools to post notes, free)www.discoverwriting.com (Barry Lane’s site)www3.sk.sympatico.ca/fiss/newpage1.htm (Saskatchewan’s excellent resource; note: Thesite address begins with www3. If you put a dot after the www, you will not reach thesite.)Be sure to bookmark any of these sites.ADDITIONAL NOTES ON RESOURCES 91
    • WHAT NEXT EXPLORING THE STEPS NEEDED TO SUSTAIN AN EFFECTIVE WRITING PROGRAMAs you think through all of the work youve done in this process journal to mine the bestpractices already in place in your school, your school district and in wider use elsewhere,its important now to build-in and maintain a futures perspective. Youll need to explorethe steps you collaboratively see as necessary for assuring that your program will have asustained future.ACTIVITY A.Purpose: To articulate your personal vision for the future of the writing program in yourclassroom, your school, and your districtTask: Below, write the vision of the writing program you have for both the short andlong-term future of the writing program in your classroom, your school, and your district. 93
    • ACTIVITY B.Purpose: To share the visions your colleagues have for the short and long-term future ofthe writing programTask: Discuss with your colleagues and record here as well as on a posted flipchart sheetthe common vision you collaboratively have for the short and long-term future of thewriting program. 94
    • ACTIVITY C.Purpose: To discuss and record the steps that you collaboratively see as necessary forsustaining your writing program both short and long-termTask: Discuss these steps and record them on a posted flipchart sheet. For yourself,record these steps below. 95
    • APPENDIXFor Students: DEMAND WRITING*For Parents: HELPING YOUR CHILD TO BE MORE EFFECTIVE AS A WRITER IN SCHOOL*For Teachers, Students, and Parents: COMMON ERRORS AND MISTAKES IN USING ENGLISH AND A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH* *For copies of these contact the author at: www.jamesevers.com CASE REPORT USING THE WRITING I.Q. PROGRAMIn 1999, a school in one of the highest ranked school districts of the USA experienced a40% failure in the writing part of the state 4th grade test. At the suggestion of the director 96
    • of their districts teacher’s development institute, the school engaged my services asconsultant in the teaching of writing.I spent two years at the school, modeling the coaching of writing and facilitating theteachers and administrators in developing a program for coaching writing at any gradelevel based on my Writing I.Q. Program. After the first year, the writing scores rose to arecord 90% success rate. After the second year, the scores rose to 100% success rate.There was full teacher support for the program essentially because it was developed bythem and because it was based on the local realities of how writing could be taught.Feedback:Here are reactions to the work done in the two years from various participants in theproject:Teachers:1. Fourth grade teacher, 30+ years of experience“The approaches modeled gave the students and the teachers a process and a focus andhelped us build on the importance of continuity of previous experiences in writing and inliterature. It was helpful to have the integration of all teachers in this project. We are allon the same wavelength, now, in the teaching of writing, the building of a seamlesscurriculum. Our children are enthusiastic about living the ‘writerly life,’ daily practicingin their writer’s notebooks and in their works in progress and understanding suchelements as ‘details, details, details,’ ‘fit and flow,’ and being a ‘writing coach’.”2. Third grade teacher, four years of experience“Our third grade team now has stronger knowledge of what to expect from third gradewriters. We regularly refer to I. Q. (impact and quality), ‘fit and flow,’ and ‘sensorydetails.’ We regularly use mini-lessons and are putting common language on our reportcards. The amount of writing that is going on and the positive feeling about writing isvery high, now.”3. Fifth grade teacher, 20+ years of experience“I loved it; it breathed new life into our school and put us on the same page. The teachingof writing begins with the kids and they now are more in control. We now have a 97
    • consistency, a focus, a common language, and a tool (Writers Guide and AssessmentTool) which the students and I regularly revise from experience. I feel its been theabsolute best thing that ever happened here.”4. Librarian, member of 3rd grade team, former class room teacher, 25+ years ofexperience“The key strength is that the program was teacher created and developed, not from aprescription or a recipe. Teachers and kids are using the tool (Writers Guide andAssessment Tool) and the content of it is theirs. Our team is enthusiastically sharing witheach other what our students are doing.”Administrators:1. Principal (interim) for first year of the program“Our desired outcomes included having students learn to write, do more writing, gainpractical experiences in writing for the 4th grade test, and learn to do writing as athinking process. These outcome were met through a program that made writinginteresting yet kept a focus on getting a job done. It carried a design that made forpermanent change through modeling, coaching, and working developmentally. Studentsgained in their writing skills,and teachers gained in their teaching of writing skills.”2. District Language Arts Curriculum Coordinator“This was precisely the right expertise needed. The routines, and the modeling, harnessedenergy and lit the fire that began the building of consistent terminology and practices. Itwas exciting to watch the teachers and the students catching the enthusiasm. The testresults show very impressive growth.”3. Principal (new), second year of the project“This got the ball rolling towards common language, practices, and expectations. Wecontinue to revisit the work and our report cards are now reflecting the language. It was apassionate building of a solid foundation for our continuing journey.”Authors Background:For over thirty-five years, I have functioned in several roles in education -- ten as aprivate school teacher/administrator and board member, twenty-five as a public schoolclassroom teacher, dozens of years as a consultant to schools and corporations and twenty 98
    • years as an adjunct at several colleges and universities, graduate and undergraduate. I amnow retired from full time teaching, but I continue to conduct teacher developmentprograms for schools and writing development programs for corporations. Additionally, Ido a lot of writing of articles and training guides, serve as a writing coach to managers,assist authors in their writing, and am a critical reader of manuscripts for a businesspublishing company.Acknowledgements:It would fill many pages of names if I could acknowledge all of the students I’ve coached U U(some who have in turn coached me), teachers who taught me, teachers with whom I’veco-taught, teachers whom I’ve coached (and several who have in turn coached me),administrators under whom I’ve worked, the authors who influenced me, editors who’vehelped me, and the many friends who have supported my teaching of writing for so manyyears. I am indebed to all of them and thank them from my heart. Most of all I want toacknowledge my wife who for 45 years has been a most supportive, often constructivelycritical, reader of my work. 99