Friday, September 14, 2012

Written Response - Not Just for Reading Anymore

Deb Hetrick

Attending the annual literacy conference in Hillsdale, MI this summer, brought me back to my summers with the EMWP. Write, respond, and write some more. Now, with the focus of the Common Core Standards on in-depth reflection/student interaction, the emphasis of the conference was - student participation in peer discussions and written response.

When engaged in thinking, speaking and writing activities on a regular basis throughout the day, students take responsibility for their learning. They take ownership of the material when they have multiple opportunities to discuss, write, discuss and revise their thinking/writing again. Both nationally known authors, Sharon Taberski (reading) and Penny Kittle (writing), stressed the importance of written response, for all subjects, throughout the day.

So, as the school year gears up for another stressful round of standardized tests, teacher evaluation, and focusing on meeting the Common Core Standards as well as the report card objectives, I need to get back to the basics. The “writing project” basics: think about it, talk about it, write about it, talk about it, think about it and write about it some more. That’s what I need to model for my new class.

If you drop into my classroom, I hope you hear my students discussing and coaching, and see them reflecting and writing during guided math, literacy, social studies, science and writer’s workshop. I want them to attend to the mini lessons or focused instruction and then talk with peers and write about the “how and why.” During work station rotations I expect them to talk, write, talk and revise, and write again.

Creating a classroom climate conducive to this independent thinking/reflection is more daunting to me than new curriculum material. Modeling behavior for supportive peer coaching, independent working, and staying on task are what the Daily Five Sisters advocate for literacy. This year I’m trying it out as a daily way of life in my classroom. Wish me luck! And if I’m in the front of the room talking too much, don’t hesitate to take me aside and whisper supportively into my ear, “Get back to the writing project basics.”
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