Thursday, June 2, 2011

Secrets to Successful Student Writing

Working hard on an Early Release… Last of school Early Release, that is

This afternoon our UP and 4th PLCs met to analyze their District On-Demand results for the 2010-2011 school year. After scoring and analyzing the data collected on their class and their grade levels, teachers spent some time reflecting on what contributed to their students' successes for the year. Here is what they had to say about their Secrets to Successful Student Writing.

Conferring in small groups: I take kids with similar needs and meet with them in small groups. “I’d be talking with one child and the others would be listening and even sharing their ideas. Then I’d address the next child’s need and the others would benefit. It was a win/win!“

Using the “Sandwich Approach” to teaching writing: This means we talk about different situations, audiences, forms, and purposes for writing right from the start. We then write like the models, confer with students, and end our unit with an independent try-it (on-demand) for both the child and for me to see how they do writing in this way independently.

Whole Group Discussions about Writing (Conferences): We end our writing time with a student offering to put their writing under the document camera and we all have an opportunity to confer with that writer through questions, suggestions, and compliments. It builds community. They really take their peers thoughts and ideas to heart, and become better writers in the end. To finish it off, we let the writers go back into their writing to add/ delete/ tweak their work as they seek to improve their message and further their purpose from the whole groups’ feedback.

Using SFAP(T) throughout the writing process: It really benefits our kids to have them SFAP during their genre writing so that when it comes time to show their writing skills independently (on-demand) it’s part of what they do—not just a “thing” they do only on on-demand.

Writing in Family Journals: Students have much more schema and practice writing effective letters and paragraphs. They are continually writing with a focus and working to organize their writing to develop it to meet their audiences’ needs.

Emphasizing Audience Awareness throughout the day/year: We talk about audience all the time- when speaking, listening, viewing, writing, etc. They know it’s important and they understand that different audiences have different needs.

A Context Approach to Conventions: I use my read aloud to draw their attention to particular a word an author uses instead of a boring word or one that didn’t match their message or the intended audience. We also pull our striking sentences and chop them up, talk about the punctuation- it’s effect on the meaning, and work with the grammatical aspects of words.

Writing Partners: We had both in class partners to offer one another feedback and we had 5th grade writing partners. The 5th graders read their buddy’s work and conferred with them as they have had their teachers confer with them. Talk about a Win/Win!

As you can see, the student writers at BES are making great strides due to their teachers’ efforts to set them up for success. Take a moment to congratulate yourself for your efforts to grow our young writers and share your greatest success snippet below.