Strategies and Instructional Practice for Writing Competencies
This week's reading starts by pointing out the fact that adolescent literacy levels have not changed despite improvements in elementary literacy achievement. While attention has shifted to this issue, it seems that writing is being left out because, as the Writing Next article stated, "It is often assumed that adolescents who are proficient readers must be proficient writers, too", This is obviously not the case. Many students are able to observe techniques and tools used by the authors of the texts that they read, however, without explicit and meaningful instruction most students are unable to become proficient writers. The article continues to list 11 effective elements to improve writing achievement, all of which make perfect, practical sense both in the classroom as well as within real world applications. I especially like the mention of model studies. I have always used writing models when instructing my students in writing. When the students are struggling with ideas, are not sure of a format, or can not make a decision about style, I frequently steer them to mentor texts to help guide their writing. Not only does it provide guidance, but it also builds student confidence in that they see what they are doing as similar to what "real authors" do in their writing. I have found using models especially helpful for my struggling writers in that it helps them to create more cohesive pieces.
I appreciated the editor's checklist provided by Morrow and Gambrell in chapter 12. I use a simple writers checklist, but I like the one provided in the text even better. The wording is straightforward and easy to understand and hits all the elements that I expect my students to check. I also liked the writing rubric provided as well. My students typically do not do well with rubrics, but this one is not as wordy as some so it would be easier for them to follow.
Conferencing is also vital when it comes to encouraging and supporting the writers in our classrooms. I find this to be a good way to check in with students on their journey through the writing process. We do a writing workshop each day, so I typically use that time to conference with students. Overall, I think it works well, but I wonder what others do to ensure their conferences run smoothly. Do you schedule conferences, or do you let students come to you as needed? I typically allow the students to come to me when needed. If I am busy with someone else, they sign up their name and continue working around their issue until their turn. It works pretty well, but I sometimes have students who sign up A LOT, monopolizing my time, while others never see me unless I call them specifically. I also try to do a "triage" method for my conferences. It is really easy to rip apart a piece and pick out every mistake, but I avoid falling into that by first asking the student what they think about their writing, and second by choosing to focus on the most obnoxious error.
I'm Edie - wife, mom, teacher, instructional designer, home renovator,
and lover of nature, travel, technology, and vintage campers!