This past Monday a colleague and I presented a writing professional development workshop for the classroom teachers and the special educators. We began the workshop together; the teachers analyzed the CCR Writing Standards to make sense of them. The teachers matched and glued the Titles for each of the Cluster Standards. Next, the matched the synthesis statement to each of the standards.
Next, we shared a Clarification Document that was created by snipping the Cluster Standards for K-5 from http://rt3nc.org/objects/standards/cclitmap/ela.html
The teachers worked together to reflect on the grade level expectations for their grade as well as the grade level prior and the grade level above them. The teachers found that the intermediate expectations were very rigorous and it was the job of the primary teachers to ensure that our students are prepared as a writers.
Later, we split the intermediate and primary teachers in two rooms. We each discussed why we write, how we teach writing, and when we teach writing. In the primary years, students learn to express their thinking first with pictures and with an oral explanation of the pictures. Generally the teacher models writing their thoughts down. Later in their development, they work on refining their thoughts orally. Once they are able to explain their thinking orally and they have an understanding of print, they are prepared to begin to write their thoughts using words. Students have experienced frequent modeling and feedback in the primary years. In grades 3-5 students should be able to write regularly and improve their clarity and the organization of their writing more independently.
Written expression is a difficult skill to acquire. It is not developed unless is it taught, students read regularly to analyze the craft of various authors, students have time to practice, they are given immediate feedback, and they learn to revise their work.
We then discussed that when we are teaching the writing standards, we should think about where we need our students to go and plan how we will get them there through mini-lessons and informal writing opportunities. The writing process should be scaffolded through modeling and should be consistent. Keep in mind that like adults, children generally do not have the stamina to write for the entire ELA block.
We worked on analyzing our upcoming units to identify the writing standards we need to teacher and we worked in grade levels to plan writing mini-lessons in a logical manner. We discussed the importance of using the clarification documents to create a grade level appropriate exemplar. We reflected on the importance of creating success criteria with our class so that they understand the expectations of the assignment. The teachers worked to long range plan and to leave space for responsive small group writers' workshop.
We also talked about the importance of providing time for students to informally write to practice and refine their writing skills. We came up with a list of ways students could become engaged in writing during a work on writing literacy workshop.
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Hi! My name is Megan Haberkam. I am a S.T.A.T. teacher with Baltimore County Public Schools. I am passionate about teaching and learning. I am lucky enough to work with students and teachers on our constant journey of improving instructional practices and learning in our classrooms.