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How Writing Units Work Together

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 9 months ago

Discussion of Chapter 3: How Writing Units Work Together: A Scaffold of Writing Instruction


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Comments (7)

Anonymous said

at 11:42 am on Jun 9, 2008

I love the concept of the 35 skills (p. 13). I'm definitely using this next year. I'm hoping Penny details how she teaches each of these. This is good stuff. <br>
The idea of beginning with narrative, with "a scene, a moment" (p. 14) reminds me of Tom Romano's "indelible moment," explained in his <i>Blending Genre, Altering Style</i>. I like the way Penny approaches drafting the narrative through specific skills--dialogue, using sensory details, slowing down time, showing not telling. It takes away the mystery for kids. I can't help seeing the connections here to teaching reading: just as we teach reading strategies--spelling out the moves critical readers make, we need to be teaching writing strategies--spelling out the moves writers make. <BR>
So...I can see that my English class should be a reading and writing workshop: Me using anchor texts--from me, from students, from published works--to model the strategies readers and writers use and to walk kids through the processes. I'm trying to get there. I'm just not there yet. I still can't seem to synthesize it all--to make it (all the skills my frameworks require) fit neatly in that 90-minute block of a precious few class periods throughout the year. Is it just me?

Anonymous said

at 11:43 am on Jun 9, 2008

Okay--unfortunately HTML doesn't work, so ignore the little commands in <>!

Anonymous said

at 1:37 am on Jun 15, 2008

The scaffolding that Penny shares with us in this chapter makes so much sense, and yet, it I wonder how to fit it all into a school year. Whether we are working with 90-minute blocks or 50-minute periods, there doesn't seem to be enough time in the school year to do writing (and reading) the justice it deserves.

Anonymous said

at 1:45 pm on Jun 15, 2008

In addition to the diagram, there a couple other things that resonated with me in this chapter. I completely agree with the comment that there are "too many (students) that simply do as little as possible and are allowed to continue." Unfortunately not all students are held to high expectations in some classes or by some teachers. This can be very frustrating when I set high expectations for my students and I become the 'bad guy' (to students and parents) because former teachers did not hold them to similar standards. I believe another hindrance to our students' writing skills is their lacking backgrounds in grammar and writing mechanics. What they don't know scares them and often keeps them from playing with language. I am always amazed at how many students actually enjoy a sentence diagramming unit I incorporate at the beginning of the year. It is quickly apparent they have little background when they begin asking why they have never seen anything like this before. At the end of the year many students say they thought diagramming was fun and wished we could have done more of it on their exit surveys. To incorporate this unit is one of those decisions I have made on my own; my district currently does not have anything in the curriculum for teaching grammar. Time constraints are a real concern for me as well. I am hoping to sit down with some of my colleagues and talk to them about how we can cover all the skills together. I'd like to think that I could cover them all in-depth, but I am not sure that is feasible. If we can decide on a way to divide the skills, emphasizing specific ones during the freshman, sophomore, and junior years, then we could review and build upon more skills each year. By the time the students become seniors they should have a strong writing background and can really 'leap' to those higher levels. I am still in the thinking stage of this proposal…if you have any criticisms or suggestions, please comment!

Anonymous said

at 7:52 am on Jun 20, 2008

I think this is smart, Jodi. I wish I could make it happen at my school. We all agree to cover grammar and mechanics, but then I see student writing in September and I think, yep it was 'covered' but not learned. Also, we have a lot of kids who move in and out of our district and we'll always be catching them up because they didn't learn it either. There is also some truth to the fact that some teachers don't know grammar well enough to teach it, so they avoid it, in all subject areas. Our school now has a school-wide writing rubric and we collect samples of student writing in all content areas each year so that students see we are serious about improving writing across the grade levels. It has had an impact. I love your energy and commitment to making a difference~ you will.

Anonymous said

at 3:47 pm on Jun 26, 2008

It's an important distinction that you make Penny -- coverage versus learning. Also, you're right about some teachers not knowing enough about grammar to teach it. I would like to have a department-wide rubric, but I don't think my administration would approve (even though I am department chair). One thing my administration prizes is academic freedom, and I think it would be seen as an imposition on other department members. Ah, I can hear you say, why not develop your own rubric together so everyone would have buy-in. Ideally, that would work. However, we have one non-teamplayer who would be the fly in the ointment.

Anonymous said

at 8:59 pm on Jun 26, 2008

We always have those non-teamplayers, too. We just work around them. Everyone else gets on board... that's good for kids. I'm not sure a department-wide rubric is an answer, but it does help us have good conversations about what kinds of things we're noticing in writing and want to address together.

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