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Writing Curriculum
Old 01-08-2006, 08:05 AM
 
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We are in the process of researching different writing programs available for our elementary students. What is everyone using and what are your thoughts on it? We have a balanced literacy program in place, but are weak in the writing aspect and do not have it aligned yet. Needing any thoughts/advice!


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Old 01-08-2006, 08:46 AM
 
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Wwe use Write Source in conjunction with Six Traits.

http://www.greatsource.com/store/Pro...level2Code=002
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Writing Curriculum
Old 01-10-2006, 02:50 AM
 
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We use Marcia Freeman. Here is a link to the website and her books.
http://www.maupinhouse.com/freeman.php
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Old 01-15-2006, 08:54 AM
 
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I am a whole language teacher, and so writing programs are the pits for me! I think you should all take the Writing Project for your state and learn to run effective writer's workshops. Kids learn to write by actually writing pieces that they have chosen, then conferencing and revising with you, and with peers. Teaching kids to write topic sentences on one colored strip, details on another (I'm describing the world's most hideous writing program, Step Up to Writing), and conclusions on another only teaches kids that:

1. Writing is hard.
2. Writing is not fun, but is quite tedious.
3. Writing does not involve creativity.
4. There is only one way to write or to organize our thoughts.

These kids come to middle school and their writing is not only ATROCIOUS, but it's impossible, impossible to break them of their awful (learned) habits.

Take Writing Project. Truly become a teacher of writing, not a teacher of an ineffective, and frankly stupid, program.
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I agree Mary!!
Old 01-18-2006, 03:14 PM
 
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The though of a writing program makes me cringe!! Even though I know some of them are worthy, I just think they are a waste of money and is in an insult to teachers (As most canned programs are)!

I teach Kindergarten and my writing scores are always very high. I run a writers workshop and read read read quality literature that models good writing. I spend a lot of time on illustrations and exploring language and ways to talk about the art and apply it to them as writers and the choices they have. My students LOVE to write and we have a big block for writing. I encourage the use of environmental print and teach my students to be risk takers and invent their own spelling.

We engage in interactive writing, shared writing and I have a big writing center with lots of supplies. I "publish" books for my kids.....If they write three sentences then they can have their story published........typed (they choose font, color, size), they then illustrate it.....I then laminate and bind it.......they present, keep in the classroom for a while (they reread it a hundred times and become very fluent!) Then it goes home!

When we get together to score the K's writing they all look the same,
I like mom. or I like cats. Then my author's "books" come to the table.........pages stapled together, signs of editing, about the author pages, talking bubbles, sound effects..etc etc!!

Have trust in what your doing......pull from lots of programs and teach from your heart.


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Kali rocks!
Old 01-18-2006, 04:34 PM
 
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Man Kali, I wish there were about 8 million more of you. I LOVED reading about your writing workshop. Your kids will stand head and shoulders above the rest who were taught (yes, TAUGHT!) to write transitions like this:

This paragraph has been about ___________.

Or intros like this:

Hi! My name is ____________.

Or conclusions like this:

I hoped you liked reading my story.

You go, girl! Try to teach a few others along the way. Do you live in the Denver area, by any chance? I was just hoping that there was the merest chance that I could get kids in middle school who have been taught that way. I actually had to give them a list of words/phrases they are NOT ALLOWED to use (like the sentences above). I make them check that list before they turn anything written in to me. I won't grade it if it says any of those things.

Your kids are very lucky, indeed.
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Old 01-18-2006, 05:28 PM
 
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Maryteach: I just had to laugh when I read your post. i could just rip my hair out when I get sixth graders writing:

This paragraph has been about ___________.

Or intros like this: Hi! My name is ____________.

Or conclusions like this: I hoped you liked reading my story.

Or how about the famous: "This report is about ___________ " for an intro and "This is the end of my report about _________".

I like your checklist of what not to write. I think I will try that.
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it works
Old 01-18-2006, 09:26 PM
 
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My department calls my banned list the "anti-rubric." Isn't that a hoot? I'm telling you though, it has vastly improved their writing to be forced to figure out another sentence, phrase, word. We all use it now, sixth through eighth, so maybe the high school folks will finally get a break.

Some of the words not allowed are cool, nice, good, awesome......
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Empowering Writers
Old 01-21-2006, 11:07 PM
 
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You should check out the Empowering Writers approach to teaching writing. I am amazed at the difference this approach has made in my classroom. You can get to their website by typing in Barbara Mariconda. She is one of the authors. I would be glad to send you some samples of my students' work. So many programs show you what quality work looks like. Barbara shows you how to teach to get quality work. After 20 years of teaching, I have seen many programs come and go. This approach is the best I have ever seen. Martha H.
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question for Martha
Old 01-22-2006, 08:42 AM
 
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I've seen you recommend this author before. The book is called "The Most Wonderful Writing Lessons Ever" or something like that, isn't it? You have interested me in it. I am getting my masters in The Teaching of Writing, so I would like to see what is in this book. Can I get it at any teacher bookstore?


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Basic Writing Skills
Old 01-24-2006, 02:40 PM
 
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I won an award for being an outstanding writing teacher. I did not do it by using the Writing Project. That works for gifted students but most students do not fit into that mold. Sorry, Writing Project is all over the place and gives no sequence to this very important cognitive skill - and it is a skill that has to be taught and learned. USE BASIC WRITING! I agree with the post before yours!! Whitney
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congratulations
Old 01-25-2006, 04:11 PM
 
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on the award you won. I'm glad the program works for you. Good for you. You should keep using it.

Writer's workshop works for me. I have had NO unsatisfactory writing scores for the past two years (and expect to repeat that this year), and I work in a minority school, with 65% free and reduced lunch, 30% technically homeless. I find it works for students on any part of the continuum. My special ed. kids especially respond to this approach. Certainly, the gifted do, but they are far from the only ones.

I'm surprised that you didn't like it, but not everyone likes everything. It does happen to be the approach that is most supported by research (the problem with programs is that they do their own "research" so we can't really rely on what they say). WW is not a program, so no retailer thought it up; consequently, no retailer feels the need to prove or justify what they've come up with. This is also the approach being taught in teacher licensure programs across the country, in every university I know of, although I concede that I don't know every school's curriculum.

Anyway, I'm glad you found something you like. I'm sure your kids are doing very well.
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Questions for everyone
Old 01-29-2006, 04:39 PM
 
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Wow! Thanks for all the responses! Here's our problem: If we go with having a Writer's Workshop, we will not have any consistency. We have educators that have to have a "BOOK" to teach from, we have others that are repulsed at the idea of a textbook, and everyone ends up teaching what they want. So, has anyone's school aligned certain aspects of writing without a set curriculum?
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Same Problem
Old 02-02-2006, 04:52 PM
 
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Our school is facing the same decision. Our teachers are being trained on The Six Traits of Writing - plus one. Our teachers are concerned that they will teach writing concepts, but miss grammar concepts. What are other schools doing to ensure that grammar concepts are being taught consistently throughout the grades?
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On a six-trait rubric
Old 02-02-2006, 09:08 PM
 
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the grammar traits would be taught under conventions and sentence fluency. (The six traits are ideas and content, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions. The plus one is presentation). A good six trait rubric specifically address capitalization, punctuation, spelling and USAGE. You teach grammar just as you always have. Six traits is often used with writer's workshop. You teach them grammar in small minilessons and in writer's conferences.
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Best Writing Program!
Old 02-04-2006, 02:31 PM
 
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We adopted the Lucy Calkens books last year! Oh my goodness! AMAZING! In first grade, my students are doing an outstanding job of writing beginning, middle, end of stories. They are writing "small moment" stories so they are not writing morning to bed stories. They are also writing made up stories with problems and solutions. I also publish these stories as well. We have Author's Chair so they can celebrate their writing, then the students give 3 compliments or suggestions to their story. We also have Read into the Circle on Friday. They pick ONE sentence from any of their stories and we all sit in a large circle. No body talks unless it is your turn to read your sentence. It's really powerful!! The kids become more interested in what they wrote about and also gives them ideas for using good describing words and dialogue.
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Lucy Calkins
Old 02-04-2006, 04:55 PM
 
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is one of the main proponents of Writer's Workshop, and I agree, her stuff is awesome. For other good minilessons that work very well within a workshop, look into Ralph Fletcher and Tom Romaine. For the first grade teacher who posted, have you read Carol Avery? She's really good.
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Old 02-12-2006, 08:14 PM
 
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Okay, clear up a couple things for me: First, Writer's Workshop - who developed this? Same with Basic Writing Skills - who's is this?

Our second grade teacher has piloted Lucy Calkins and has loved it. She had to put it on a backburner for a week because of some scheduling conflicts and her kids were begging for it back. I have been piloting Portulupi and Fletcher's Writing Essentials. It has some great pieces and my students are developing a system for writing, however I don't know if it's necessarily appropriate for third graders at the beginning of the year - moreso for the second half. Also, not sure how we would align the programs for K-2 and 3-6 since they seem to be "common curriculums". Anybody else had to do this where you split up the curriculum between grade levels?
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Old 02-22-2006, 11:59 AM
 
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Wow! I was a little disturbed by your message. I totally agree that kids need to be creative in their writing. However, my experience has taught me that kids need a foundation first. You have to show them what excellent writing looks like and teach them what elements they need to make it wonderful. Without out a base, how can they be creative? I am also restricted a bit by our state testing. Our students have to know many types of writing for a benchmark test. Unfortunately, I don't have time to workshop with each of my students (I see about 100 in a day). My only hope is that my students learn some basic writing skills and develope their own creative style as they continue to write. I also hope I'm not the one sending on students with awful (learned) habits.

Teacher of an ineffective program?
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Old 02-26-2006, 09:03 AM
 
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To Whitney: You have it backwards. Writer's workshop is the approach that is supported by independent research. That's because it's NOT A PROGRAM. That's why the research is independent. No one "owns" it, unlike BWS. There is no Writer's Workshop website. To research it, you have to read various peoples' work. YOU have to do the work. You are right, however, about the Council for Child Health and Human Development being behind BWS. Too bad those organizations are not made up of educators. The types of degrees found in an organization of that type are medical degrees, accounting degrees, many degrees, actually, but very few in education. That's a lot like a plumber telling an electrician how to make his wiring to code. It's not all that helpful, since the plumber doesn't understand the math behind the electrician's job, doesn't understand various levels of wire insulation, doesn't even really understand how electricity does and doesn't work. And it certainly is not all that relevant. So okay, I guess you could call their research independent, but I call their research silly--it's just not their area, and they're not the people who are qualified to make this call. Long, fancy titles behind organizations do not lend them credibility, unless viewed by the impressionable. This organization is highly respected in many fields, and is well-founded, but this just isn't where they're experts. Doctors and accountants and social workers should not be telling teachers how to teach.

Moats and Shaywitz are educational researchers, this is true. But their degrees are in Education. You may say that's what I was arguing for in the last paragraph--but that was just part one. Here is part two: Having educators do this research is far more helpful than having social workers and pediatricians do it, but it's BETTER BY FAR to have the research from people with degrees in ENGLISH. That's because English majors' work is kids' reading and writing. An educator's work is reading, writing, math, science, etc. But teaching reading and writing is what an English degree is FOR, in education. These are the people who have studied this, who have done (relevant) studies, who know what they're talking about, and their degrees are in English, not administration or curriculum development (which is an administrator's degree, also). Here is what is so disturbing about Dr. Hochman--she barely taught--she's an ADMINISTRATOR!!!! She was a superintendent for many, many years. People! Do you really think your superintendent is the one who should be writing the curriculum for your writing program? You would trust a superintendent to do that?! Superintendents deal in calendars and budgets, principals and parents, school boards and media. They are BEAN COUNTERS!!!! Dr. Hochman is not teacher of writing--she's a shrewd businesswoman who figured out how to sell a bill of goods to some school districts, and is getting fat off the profits. I have a degree in English, (which means I had 16 hours of the teaching of writing, compared to the 3 or 4 hours that someone with a degree in education has). I hold a minor in Reading Instruction--18 hours of how to do this, not the 3-5 hour offering that an education major gets. So my first day on the job, I was already WAY more qualified to teach both reading and writing than Dr. Hochman has ever been. Now that I'm getting my master's in The Teaching of Writing, I'm way ahead of her. You see, her master's is in administration and curriculum development--not the same thing, at all. As an electrician, I do NOT want this plumber telling me how to do my thing.

Rina: You belie an ignorance of what is going on in the universities--it's whole language. They may call it different names, but teachers in English programs in universities--are teaching teachers to use whole language. Programs are for teachers who have only a few hours' in their college programs for how to do this--non-English majors, non-writing teachers. It's the same reason we have all these awful basal series and reading programs floating about--most teachers don't have any idea how to teach reading. They NEED a program (note that years of experience doing something does not equal years of experience doing something WELL--many teachers have years of experience teaching both reading and writing in a very ineffective manner). If I taught a contained elementary class, and had to teach math, believe me, I'd NEED a program. I didn't have the hours in my college program dedicated to math, since I was an English major. Three or four hours' worth of practicum in math instruction did not turn me into a great math teacher, just as a few hours' instruction on how to teach reading and writing does not turn one into a great teacher of these things. In Colorado, though, there has not been a degree in education offered for many years--it's not viewed as an actual discipline here. We major in a discipline here (English, math, chemistry), and only minor in education.

Regie Routman, Donald Graves, all the people I mentioned before are English degreed people--the people who have the knowledge, experience, and yes, independent research to support what they're doing. The Teaching of Writing in the university is taught in the English department. Also, the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) and the IRA (International Reading Association) endorse and promote whole language, and believe that programs such as BWS harm good educational practice. Dr. Hochman has never been invited to speak at conventions of these organizations, not even once, but you will get the chance to hear Ralph Fletcher, Nancie Atwell, Dawn Latta-Kirby, Donald Graves. Dr. Hochman's education and administration degrees don't fly in that atmosphere.

Finally, there is a huge difference between a respected, established university (The University of Colorado, in this case) and the Windward Teacher Training Institute. If those two institutions are equal in your mind, something is very wrong, indeed. One is accredited, respected, recognized, one is, well, a teacher training place--a teacher training place run by the same clever woman who piloted the bogus program they teach. And she has teachers just lining up to be enlightened--nice. No wonder our kids can't think critically.

Writingteach: I hope you're not one of those, either.

Also, I am appalled at what seems to be a terrible lack of classroom management skills on this thread--maybe that's why some of these kids have such trouble. Some of you can't manage a class of 25 with independent work while you conference--scary. If you can't manage a workshop, you certainly won't be able to run one, so maybe worksheets are best for your kids, so you can keep them under control.

Somebody said something on this thread or a different one about their kids liking BWS so much because they were just so sick of the writing process. Oh. My. God.
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I got my research
Old 02-27-2006, 07:16 PM
 
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from the BWS website, the one that told me how to order the completely ingenious WORKSHEETS inside the completely revolutionary WORKBOOKS that appear to be a cornerstone of this "research-driven" approach.

Her website talks a lot about the administration aspect of her career, which appears to be lengthy, not as much about the teaching. But it doesn't matter. She doesn't have the proper credentials to do respected research in this field.

Dr. Shaywitz is a respected PEDIATRICIAN, and in her arena, I grant her all the respect in the world. Pediatricians know about child development, yes, but they don't know any more about the teaching of reading and writing than your Aunt Sally. They know all about diseases, anomalies, emotional/physical development. They know more about the brain than I do. But I know much more about the teaching of writing than does Dr. Shaywitz, and so does any English professor at any accredited university. Being a pediatrician does not make one an expert on reading or writing. I mean, doctors get almost no training on nutrition, for Pete's sake--why on earth would you believe they know about the teaching of writing? Why do you think you can learn about reading and writing from a superintendent and a pediatrician/neuroscientist?! How many reading groups has the neuroscientist run? The Study of Learning and Attention is wonderful, I'm sure, but I say they know a lot more about ADHD from this study than writing. It's interesting that she is at direct odds with the NTCE and the IRA, but that doesn't even make you bat an eye.

Again, an accredited, respected university, or a teacher training program? When I mention Dr. Hochman's name to the professors in my masters program, most have not even heard of her, but of the few who have, eyes roll and shoulders shrug.
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Old 03-03-2006, 06:49 PM
 
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Mary,

I just now saw your note. The book I mentioned can be purchased from Scholastic. If you go on Amazon.com I think it is only $10.00.

I found this book a couple of years ago. I would love to know what you think about it. I flew to Connecticut and met the author,
Barbara Mariconda. Empowering Writers is the name of her company. They have recently offered me a job. I will probably just take a leave of absence to work for them next year. I am so convinced that teachers in Texas need her materials. Writing workshops are great, but they are hard to manage especially for new teachers. Barbara offers a whole group approach that students love. If you would like to see a few samples of student's work after being taught this approach let me know.
I have some I can share with you.

I teach 4th grade. My daughter uses this approach with 7th. A college professor came by the other day just to look at my book. She said she was going to go buy one to use with her students.

Martha H.
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Thanks to everyone!
Old 03-05-2006, 09:06 PM
 
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No matter the take or views - thank you to everyone for sharing! You have provided me with countless resources to research and try. This discussion has been very healthy to view as we search to discover what is best for our students. Whether workshop or BWS, the bottom line is finding what works best for our students, right?
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Writing Program for Gifted Kids
Old 03-14-2006, 01:11 AM
 
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My school is looking for a writing program that is appropriate for gifted children. Our gifted kids are in stand alone classes. We tried Lucy Calkins and there were some nice things in that approach, but there were also things that didn't work for these kids--for instance, there was a lot of writing from life and an emphasis on feelings. A lot of the kids, the boys especially, like to use their imaginations. They also like to be funny. We found it was very rigid in its own way and our district is very rigid on top of that. One aspect of our kids we'd like to take advantage of is that they can learn a new form very quickly. Is there anything out there that's not as basics-oriented as the 5 paragraph report but not as touchy feely as Lucy Calkins? We want to teach them to write well and creatively in a variety of forms, fictional and nonfictional.
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I was just going to throw up my hands
Old 03-18-2006, 08:34 AM
 
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and let this thread go, but some of the stuff being said just really needs to be addressed.

Any program that goes K-12 has problems before you even start, because--do I even have to tell you why? Does anyone think that teaching writing in K is like teaching writing in 12? Or that teaching writing in 10 is the same as teaching writing in 3? Someone please, please tell me you see something fundamentally wrong here. I'm really getting worried.

Kids who "hate the workshop model" are usually kids who are lazy or just hate to write. It's okay for kids to hate to write. I hate to do a lot of stuff that I have to do in life. Kids will, however, generally write with greater enthusiasm if given a choice, which is what workshop is --choice-driven. I can see, though, how some kids would prefer the BWS worksheets. Mindless, easy, don't have to come up with a topic, don't have to have original thoughts. Shoot, yeah. Bring it on.

Writing instruction should not involve lots and lots of instruction (translation: worksheets, DOL, teacher-driven talk). What on earth are you talking about and instructing on that kids can't learn better by trying it? When it comes time to write, say, an essay for the district writing assessment, is it too much independent work? Is it too much "writing alone?" Also--workshop is not "writing alone." It's the exact opposite. It's what real writers do in the world. Real writers write alone, then share what they've done with a peer (sometimes an editor). But you gotta write it alone. You can't worksheet yourself to the Great American Novel, or even a decent essay or short story.

This thread alternately makes me want to laugh, then cry. If I was a math teacher, as I've said before, I would certainly need a program, because my English degree didn't prepare me to teach math without some help. So I understand that people whose degree is in education (and it freaks me out that there are still so many, many states granting that degree) need help teaching writing. What amazes me is when the people who need the help truly, really, honestly don't see it, and think that people who have lots of degrees (but unfortunately, in unrelated areas) are the ones who are the gurus.

Like I said, this is either very sad or very funny. But it explains a lot about the writing of the kids I get.
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Clarification
Old 03-18-2006, 09:43 AM
 
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I probably should clarify some things:

If I was suddenly in a contained sixth grade classroom, I would certainly need and want a math program. I would really, really hope, though, that the program my school used was endorsed by the NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Math). That's because these are the people who understand math instruction. They know MUCH more about it than the people with degrees in curriculum development (or pediatrics, or social work). The NCTM are the people to listen to here--not the math component of BWS (Oh my God--a writing program with a math component. Why not a gardening component, as well? I know! Let's expand and do a science component, too!)

The NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) and the IRA (International Reading Association) are the people who should be endorsing whatever you use. I realize that you have to use what your school uses, but to walk around touting the "research" behind it is very, very questionable, especially when their "research" isn't even recognized by the organizations that know what they're talking about, that are staffed with people with English degrees, not social workers, not pediatricans, not superintendents (who taught ONE WHOLE CLASS the whole time they were superintendent), not curriculum development people (jack of all trades, master of NONE).

Also--the comment about kids just doing too much writing alone really confuses me. How else do you write? When you were in school, did you hand the pencil back and forth with a classmate, and share the essay? Do you mean that worksheets give us all the same experience? I hope you don't mean that, because in writing, it's essential to each have our own experience. If I'm writing from my head and from my heart, not filling out a worksheet, how is that done any way but alone? Isn't math done alone, in the evening when they do their homework? When you read a book, do you do it alone? My point is, we come together, in workshop fashion, to take the "alone" out of it, and put in the collaboration. Collaboration is what makes everyone, everywhere better at what they do. Musicians collaborate. Scientists collaborate. Mathematicians collaborate. Legislators collaborate. And writers collaborate. Workshop facilitates working alone, then fruitful collaboration. I don't understand your point.

I think the real issue is classroom management skills, and teachers who don't possess them. I imagine it IS easier to control a class that is filling out worksheets after I drone on to them for half an hour or so. It's not teaching your kids to be writers. It's crowd control.
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masters in writing
Old 04-06-2006, 06:04 PM
 
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That sound like a wonderful masters degree! May I ask where you are working on this?
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Old 04-09-2006, 11:35 AM
 
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Several posts promoting "Hochman" have been removed from this thread. Posting advertisements is not permitted on ProTeacher. Please report suspicious posts. Thanks to the ProTeacher visitor who spotted this ruse.
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Writing Project
Old 04-28-2006, 09:00 AM
 
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There are so many writing programs out there that send the message, "You don't have to know much, just follow these steps." I agee with you and am familar with The Writing Project, but have never had the opportunity to participate. Years ago at the U of FL, my professor, who spent time with Lucy Calkins, wanted to get one started in Gainesville. I left before that happened. I've been teaching writing in the third and fourth grade for some years as a resource teacher where I go from class to class for 45 minutes blocks of time. Not the most conducive way of teaching writing workshop. Now I have been given the opportunity to have my own room with three classes a day with 90 minutes for each class. Ultimately, these fourth graders will be tested in Feb. to determine if they can write to both narrative and expository styles of writing. It puts my writing program in jeopardy if they don't do well. Our schools are rewarded with money if we score well. Any advice on resource books for this age group. Calkins lessons plans are for primary. Does she have anything for intermediate.
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Have you looked at
Old 04-28-2006, 01:53 PM
 
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Nancie Atwell? In the Middle is like a bible.

I am taking a Rhetorical Theory class in this graduate program I'm in for the teaching of writing (yes, it's hard! :-)) Needless to say, the people who teach and run this are HORRIFIED by what passes for writing instruction in most elementary and middle classrooms. Programs, programs, programs. The approach they're teaching is to tie rhetorical practices into the teaching. The thought is that the five-paragraph essay championed by a lot of teachers is what's hurting young writers. It's like once they learn that, it's the only thing they can do. They write EXACTLY five paragraphs of EXACTLY five sentences each. I understand that teachers feel this gives a structure, and I suppose it does, but the structure has COMPLETELY overcome the content for most of these kids. It's like everyone has said that this format shows organization, and so we're going to teach this, I mean CRAM THIS DOWN THE THROATS, of every child we get. Out come the colored strips and the glue. Or the silly lessons on transitions, in which we teach them to say silly things like all in all, finally, clearly.....that one is especially funny to me, since "transitions" were made up by teachers, not writers. Programs are what push transitions, not authentic writing. If we had started talking about transitions twenty years ago, people would not have known what we were talking about. The writing I get from the kids coming from the elementary school is almost universally terrible. It's highly likely that this is because the teachers who are teaching this are terrible writers themselves. I have never known a teacher who was a good writer herself say that a program is the way to teach writing. I think it's the blind leading the blind, if you want the truth.

Try Nancie Atwell, Dawn Latta-Kirby, and I find that a lot of what Tom Romaine says makes a lot of sense for middle school. And oh my gosh, Craft Lessons by Ralph Fletcher comes in a volume for narrative and one for expository. Writing Project gave me a wonderful book called the Writing Workshop (how original) and the author is Katie Wood Ray.

In Rhetorical Theory, they're saying why does the kid have to write you a five paragraph essay, unless it's the state test? I work with a very forward-thinking teacher who has her kids do multi-genre research papers!

If we're really serious about teaching kids to write, we have GOT to get out of this mindset of "what's the best way to teach the five paragraph essay and what's the best program to do it?" Testing has got us all freaked out, and everyone is looking for the magic bullet, but there is none. Kids learn to write by writing authentically--for real audiences, not just the teacher's red pen, and writing in many genres. And by WORKSHOPPING. There is not a real writer in the world who learned their craft by doing worksheets or by writing on colored strips that they glue onto the paper.

It's so nice to hear of a resource teacher who isn't merely taking the easy way out, but instead is interested in really teaching writing. The kids are lucky to have you, even if the time is somewhat fractured. A fractured time span, featuring effective instruction, will produce a far better writer, I think, than a structured, predictable space of time that is filled with a ridiculous program.
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Right On!
Old 05-01-2006, 02:26 PM
 
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Thanks for responding so quickly. I agree with your preceptions and can atest to the fact that you learn to write by writing-not worksheets or other cute ideas. Also, writing has to be authentic for real audiences especially for the young. I have Atwell's book and Craft Lessons. I'll check out the other resource books you mentioned. The bottom line is-to teach writing effectively, you have to have personal experience with the process of writing in the different genres.
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Old 07-19-2006, 07:53 PM
 
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I would look into 6 Traits. They have excellant kits that can be purchased for each grade. The kit has a whole book of applicable mini-lessons, rubrics, sample student papers and overheads. I really like it.
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disagree
Old 01-08-2008, 10:34 AM
 
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I am a high school teacher who has to clean up the mess of whole language middle school teachers. I totally disagree. Like learning math, learning to write begins with students being able to understand how the parts create a whole the first time around. You cannot teach math backwards, and you cannot teach writing by teaching them to "clean it up" in the end. Young students have a difficult time managing big chunks, and they do better when mastering parts at a time. When students take timed writing assessments like the ACT and SAT tests - or AP tests- they cannot revise. They need to learn how each part fits to make the whole in the first place.
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