Writing-to-learnHow to use writing in every classroom toimprove content area learning.
• The top 10 reasons why you write:(use your brochure to record your response)188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.10.Why do you write?
• The top 10 reasons why I write:1. To remember things - lists Why 10? It makes you go past2. To plan the obvious and think3. To figure out what to do more deeply.4. To explain my opinion (to complain)5. To model6. To say thanks7. To reflect and record - diary8. To make summaries9. To request things – emails, letters10. Because I have to (eg. Reports)Why do we write?
• Most of us write to:- Communicate information- Clarify thinking- Learn new concepts and information.• Students need to practice to able to use writing effectively to meet these same goals. One or two writing classes just don’t provide enough writing practice.A life of writing
• Today, my goals are for you to learn: 1. Why writing is important in every classroom. 2. How you can improve student achievement in your classes by using writing-to-learn strategies.Learning intentions
ASK YOURSELF• How often do you ask students to write?• What types of writing do you ask of them?• Do you encourage learning through writing?• Research shows that if students aren’t writing often, in every subject, they will lose confidence in writing, resent it when they are asked to write by only some of their teachers and, most importantly, not learn as effectively as they could.Writing in YOUR classroom?
It’s more difficult to convince teachers that writing is a learning process than it is to convince them that talk is, because so often teachers use writing as a way of testing. They use it to find out what students already know, rather than as a way of encouraging them to find out. The process of making the material their own--the process of writing--is demonstrably a process of learning. James BrittonWriting and teaching.
• In recent years, our NAPLAN data shows that at least 60% of our students are operating not at the expected level in writing.• In particular, the majority of boys at our school are well below the expected level in writing, and fail to progress at the expected rate between Year 7 and 9.• Anecdotally, many teachers comment that students in all subjects are reluctant to write.• Our VCE data suggests that student performance in a range written tasks in most subject areas is below where we would like students to be.• WHAT CAN WE DO?Writing at SHC.
• Increasing non-fiction writing in our classrooms raises student achievement in all subject areas (Peery, 2009).• Writing about the material helps students learn it better and retain it longer, whatever the subject (Nilson, 2008).• It’s hard to write something of substance without knowing the subject well – writing-to-learn activities prepare students for this.• Bangert-Drowns, Hurley and Wilkinson (2004) found that writing-to- learn activities can have a positive impact on academic achievement. In particular, the use of metacognitive prompts –those that made students ‘reflect on their current knowledge, confusions and learning processes’- proved highly effective.What the research says.
There are two broad terms used to describe cross-curricula writing:writing-to-learn and learning to write.• Writing to learn activities are designed more for meta- cognitive effect ie for students to record their ideas, reflect upon their learning and grapple with unfamiliar content. The goal is for them to learn more deeply.• Learning to write activities result in more polished products. These must show content area learning plus competency in a particular writing form. While all subject area teachers are required to teach students how to write specific forms of writing and use subject specific vocabulary, it is the responsibility of the teachers of English to instruct students in the mechanics of the English language.How is writing-to-learn different to otherwriting we ask students to do’?
• Writing-to-learn activities, which are generally short stints of writing, can switch students’ brains from off to on.• It is necessary to have students write in order for them to deepen their own learning. Is assists them to reflect on their learning, which is linked to increased understanding, and supports their increasingly sophisticated use of specific vocabulary.Writing to learn
• In order to make the writing process an important component of learning in any class, we must first make sure that our students are comfortable with it.• Low risk, engaging writing must precede higher risk, intellectually rigorous writing.Writing-to-learn
Writing to learn (low stakes) Published writing (high stakes)Short SubstantialSpontaneous PlannedInformal ConventionalExploratory AuthoritativePersonal Audience centredOne draft DraftedUnedited EditedUngraded AssessableTypes of writing
1. Use the graphic organiser provided to identify the low and high stakes writing activities you use in your classroom.2. Then, use the top section of the Y chart to evaluate how you use writing in your classroom. Write for one minute.A writing break
• Turn to a partner and share your thinking about writing in your classroom.• The person who travelled the greatest distance from Swan Hill during the holidays speaks first for 30 seconds, then swap.Think, write, pair/share
• ‘Low stakes’ writing-to-learn activities lead students to make decisions, encourages them to engage with ideas, forces them to think about how words work and which ones to use, and helps with later recall of ideas.The importance of ‘low-stakes’ writing.
• Turn and talk – Define writing-to-learn and explain why it is important . Tallest person – speaks first – 20 seconds Next tallest – adds something new – 10 seconds Next tallest – adds something new – 10 seconds Last speaker – sums up what was said – 20 seconds.• Now write. In your brochure, define what writing-to- learn is. No talking! Vocabulary to use: Metacognitive, reflect, think, record , short, exploratory, informal, lowTalk then write stakes, unedited, ungraded, retain, r egular,
• Some writing-to-learn strategies can replace whole class discussions.• Whole class discussions: • Pulling teeth • One person talking and twenty five waiting for a turn • Doesn’t require all students to engage with the material and think.Why write rather than talk?
Writing-to-learn Listing Note-taking Graphic Organisers Reflective Writing Creative writing ABC Cornell notes Venn diagrams RAFT Top 10 Combination notes Tree charts ‘I am poems’ Top 3 Outlines Flow charts Entrance and exit slips Bio poems Cycle diagrams Think, Write, Pair/share Recasting the text 4 square reflection Most important word and symbol Processing your processWriting to learn activities Source – Peery, Writing Matters in Every Classroom, 2009
At the beginning of a lesson: • Activates prior knowledge • Activates further thinking • Supports setting class and individual goals 20%Along the way: • Stop and collect thoughts Learning Framework • Sort out ideas 60% • Notice and record thinking • To ensure everyone is on task and thinking • Review and re-adjust goals • Get ready to move aheadLater • Synthesise learning • Connect with others 20% • Compare notes • Reflect on learningWhen to use writing-to-learn activities?
• Use the brochure to complete this activity• There are photocopies of different writing-to-learn activities: Admit/Entrance slips, Lists, Cornell Note, and Writing Breaks.• Distribute them amongst the group.• Summarise the key features of your writing-to-learn activity and identify how you could use it in your subject area. You have five minutes to do this.• When directed to begin, share your findings with your group. Each person will have one minute to talk. Take notes as required. You have four minutes (one minute per person) to do this.Group work – writing-to-learn activities
• In your brochure, brainstorm the writing-to-learn activities you could use next week.What can I start to do next week?
• Top 10 list• Writing break• Think, write, pair/share• Talk then write• Graphic organiser• Cornell Note• Top 3 list with justifications• Admit/entrance slip• ABC list• Exit slipWriting to learn activitiesintroduced today.
• If there’s time!!• Learning Framework• Visuals• Talking• Variety• Boxes and borders –brochure• ICTWhole group discussion
WHERE TO NEXT?• Many students, especially boys, don’t arrive in our classes thrilled about writing in general.• Many have the notion that writing is reserved for English classes.• A lot of our students lack writing confidence, so writing to learn activities are a way of building confidence, competence and knowledge in non-threatening ways.• Try one or two activities to start with, ones you feel comfortable with or are new to you. Share ideas.• Further PD will be provided to develop your writing-to-learn knowledge and broaden the variety of activities you use.• Remember – the more you ask your students to write and to solidify their thinking, the more they learn.Start using writing-to-learn activities straight away.
• Exit slips are another writing-to-learn tool. They are a good way to get feedback about what students learnt in the lesson. Keep the question simple. It can be topic specific, ask about learning problems, what was enjoyed, what skills were learnt, what activity was best for learning etc. Collect them to inform your teaching in the next lesson.• There are many templates to adapt on the internet.• Please complete the exit slip and hand it to me before leaving.Reflection – the exit slip
• Cobbin, Keay and Willy, Steve, Literacy Coach Training Workshops, Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership, 2011• Nilson, Linda, ‘Writing-to-learn Activities and Assignments’ from Teaching At Its Best, 2008• Peery, Angela, Writing Matters in Every Classroom, Leadership and Learning Center, Englewood, 2009Sources
• Photocopies of explanations of four writing-to-learn activities – Lists, Cornell Note, Writing Break, Admit/Entrance slips• Note taking booklet – top 10 list, low and high stakes writing, writing break, group work• Reflection - Exit slip.• Explanation for writing break and exit slip for ‘take- aways’ (see ‘Writing to learn’ word doc)Materials needed