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maryteach maryteach is offline
Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 3,145
Senior Member

Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 3,145
Senior Member
The dissenter
Old 08-30-2009, 08:06 AM
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I have to respectfully disagree. I am a middle school Lang Arts teacher and this program has done more to poison the writers I get than anything. I can always tell a Step Up trained kid because their writing is very stilted and wooden. It follows an exact formula that's really obvious. I understand that some teachers feel it gives an important structure to their writing, but the kids who come from writer's workshop classrooms are always better writers. Their writing is smoother, more fluent, and more advanced than the Step Up kids. Those kids write paragraphs that are all exactly five sentences long, with corny, canned conclusion sentences.

Struggling writers tend to be more successful in classrooms where they are given choice and individual minilessons, during writer's conferences, which address exactly what THAT CHILD needs, one need at a time. They need to set goals and they need to evaluate their writing on the rubric before they turn it in. They need to set their next writing goal based on the feedback they've just received, in the form of a returned piece.

Children should not be expected to move lock-step through a piece of writing (today everyone is planning and tomorrow everyone is writing the first draft...). Writers don't work that way. A writer is the exact opposite of an automaton. If we want them, for example, to plan a really good piece, we can't insist that they finish in the next 20 minutes. They MIGHT finish then, but they might not, and that has to be okay. (No, they don't get to plan all week. We just don't insist on everyone staying together. Kids will be at different points within the process all year long. That really is okay, even desirable.)

I do this with 130 struggling writers (low SES, and I deliberately teach the low ones) so I know this can be done with 20-30 kids, even more effectively and easily.
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