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Step Up to Writing....
Old 09-05-2006, 04:48 PM
 
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Is anyone using Step Up to Writing in their classroom? We are part of a team that is going to use it and then see if anyone else would want to use it. If you have used the program let me know. Thanks in advance for any input. Also, anyone use Rebecca Sitton's spelling program? I have been thinking about using it. Let me know.
Thanks and have a great evening.


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I have used Step Up before
Old 09-06-2006, 12:31 PM
 
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and I have to tell you, I hate it so much that I probably would not accept a job that entailed teaching it. I honestly would look for another school. Step Up teaches some of the worst habits I have ever seen, and teaches kids to write like little clones of each other. We spend three entire years in the middle school trying to UNDO Step Up. We can always tell who's come from a Step Up school, because their writing stinks.

There are probably teachers out there who like it, although I find that hard to imagine, so maybe you should be talking to them, instead. I really can't say anything nice about this program. I will say that I have seen it practically ruin kids who were pretty good writers before they got hit with this homogenizing program.
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step down
Old 09-06-2006, 06:51 PM
 
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I've used the step up and I thought the students' writing skills took a nosedive... I don't recommend the program.
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Step Up
Old 09-07-2006, 03:59 PM
 
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I have taken Step Up classes and have found many of the ideas useful. Like any writing program, I look for what works for me in my classroom. I do not teach the program in its entirety.

While many students are gifted with words, there are others that struggle and need direction and a "formula". These students need help with organization. Step Up can offer that organizational help. I would suggest that you pair the ideas with 6 traits in order to fully develop your writers.

I understand the distain of certain programs and formulaic writing, but frankly, I see it as a "stage" in a writer's development. I can easily work with kids that start all their paragraphs with "First, Second, Third". We can eliminate those transitions and learn to bury the transitions so the writing is smooth and seemless. We can develop word choice, etc. So, for me I like the basics of Step Up and can't wait to move kids along to more advanced writing too.
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Step up
Old 09-08-2006, 07:17 PM
 
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I currently use step up to writing. I teach 6th grade. It's defintely a useful tool, but it's definetely much more of a supplemental resource. It provides nice outlines, lists & flow charts.


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Old 09-12-2006, 12:40 PM
 
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I love the structure that Step Up can give to kids. Even my great writers (4th/5th) graders can utilize the structure. It is not an all-encompassing program, but after 16 years in the classroom, I can say that it is the 1st program I've seen that gives kids a place to start. It works best when the whole school is using it so that there is a common thread through all the grades.

I hate Sitton Spelling. Talk about taking a nose dive! Our spelling has gotten progressively worse with Sitton. Kids also substitute basic words that they know how to spell rather than using a more advanced one that they must look up.
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Old 09-12-2006, 12:41 PM
 
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I love the structure that Step Up can give to kids. Even my great writers graders can utilize the structure. It is not an all-encompassing program, but after 16 years in the classroom, I can say that it is the 1st program I've seen that gives kids a place to start. It works best when the whole school is using it so that there is a common thread through all the grades.

I hate Sitton Spelling. Talk about taking a nose dive! Our spelling has gotten progressively worse with Sitton. Kids also substitute basic words that they know how to spell rather than using a more advanced one that they must look up.
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hate it
Old 09-12-2006, 04:51 PM
 
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Step up to Writing is good for early elementary school students and ESE students in the upper elementary. Our school used this program for one year. Most of the teachers hated it, including me. I would look into a better program if I were you. If you research step up to writing, I believe it was designed for the ESE classroom, not for regular ed students.

-Karrie
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Sitton problems
Old 09-28-2006, 06:58 PM
 
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I am a parent and my daughter consistently gets D's and F's on her sitton spelling tests. Yet, there is nothing I can do, because there is nothing to help her study. In my book, after four weeks of this program getting D's and F's, the program does not work. Of course, I am results oriented.
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Works for me!
Old 09-29-2006, 10:22 AM
 
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I like the structure of Step Up. I teach ELL students and have found that the program helps them to better organize their thoughts. Of course, any good teacher is going to take the best of what works from each program they come into contact with to create a balanced comprehensive program. My suggestion is to take what works for you and then continue to look for something else to fill in the gaps. There is NEVER going to be one program that will cover EVERYTHING that you want and need. Good luck!
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step-up
Old 10-05-2006, 06:12 AM
 
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I have used this program for many years and have found it's the only organizational tool that has worked for my Language Disordered kids. I have also taught many of our regular ed. teachers the program and so far, they all find that the kids are writing paragraphs that were much more detailed than before. The program also provides the vocabulary the children need in order to write better paragraphs. Again, like others, you use the parts of the program that you are comfortable with, but you can expand on your writing after they understand the development.
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Old 10-10-2006, 08:31 AM
 
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We have had many teachers in our District trained - k-12 - in Step Up. Everyone agrees that the strategies have provided the structure teachers need to help guide students toward improving the quality of their writing. We are working toward using Step-Up to give us a common language. We are NOT using it cover to cover. We are taking the parts that directly relate to what is in our curriculum. I have not received any negative feedback from teachers so far, and have had a lot of positives!
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Middle School Resource Eng. Teacher
Old 10-13-2006, 07:07 AM
 
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This program is the best one I have found for my learning disabled kids. They love the tactile features of the dots and sticky notes. It also gives them visual clues for organizing their papers. However, once kids acquire adequate fluency in their writing, they should move on to a more rigorous and creative program.
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grammar, writing, spelling middle school teac
Old 10-20-2006, 06:44 AM
 
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Step-up to writing is an awesome tool!n The program come with "handy Pages" for the student to use as reference. The program is very effective and contains a lot of reproductable material. I have used it with 2nd, 3rd, and 6th graders. Get it.
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grammar, writing, spelling middle school teac
Old 10-20-2006, 06:45 AM
 
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Step-up to writing is an awesome tool! The program come with "Handy Pages" for the student to use as reference. The program is very effective and contains a lot of reproductable material. I have used it with 2nd, 3rd, and 6th graders. Get it.
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Old 10-22-2006, 04:33 PM
 
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Step Up to Writing is not a spelling program. It is a writing program. I wouldn't judge a math program based on someone scores in science.

I use this program as a starting point in writing with my 3rd grade students and they really respond to it. Most 8 year olds can't organize thier writing and can't really seem to vary their sentences. This program helps in both areas.
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Step Up To Writing
Old 10-26-2006, 08:24 AM
 
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My school district has used Step Up To Writing for the past three years, and I have seen nothing but an improvement in writing. The problem with all writing programs is that if the teacher allows the program to reach instead of using the program as a tool all students’ writing will suffer. My district has used this program to give teachers and students one more source or tool to help developing writing skills. Step To Writing is a great writing tool. It gives students a foundation of structure. It gives them concrete needs in the abstract world of writing.

I for one think Step Up To Writing is wonderful. I don’t see clone writers. Each student still have their own voice. Paragraphs and writing assignments are focused, organized, and have a flow to them I have never before seen. For those teachers who think that Step Up To Writing kills creativity, they need to look at how they are using the program. Maybe they lack creativity.
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Old 11-05-2006, 12:13 PM
 
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I agree - This is the first year (3rd grade) we are exposed to this and it is only 2 third grade teachers in the school using the system. My sons is also getting all D's and E's. They tell me he is behind - but how do I possible catch him up on over 200 words that he is SUPPOSE to know by heart and the new ones???? I do not agree that this programs makes them spellers for life. How can this possibly help them if they are already behind????
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Step-up
Old 11-05-2006, 02:04 PM
 
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I agree with many of the posters here. I use 6 Traits Writing, but I use the organizational part of Step-up with my low 6th grade Language group when doing organization with 6 Traits. They DO need a place to start, and this way of organizing has been helpful - but not the "be all and end all." Where my students are, they are still struggling with the idea of multi-paragraph essays and modification of the step-up organization lends itself this. Should it be the only process taught? No way!

I do agree, though, that when a student is ready, they should be encouraged and given the tools to move on. I have read for the 5th grade state writing assessments, and unfortunately, the Step Up clones are out there.
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The teachers here
Old 11-17-2006, 03:10 PM
 
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who say that their students' writing really improved after exposure to Step Up--my God, what kind of garbage must they have been writing before? If this IMPROVES their writing, then they're really starting from a deep, dark hole.

I'm sticking to my guns--we can tell, in middle school, who's been taught with this program--their writing STINKS. Some of you are valuing form over content. That's a huge mistake. A huge mistake. Your kids come to middle school and can't write their way out of a Glad bag.
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Old 11-20-2006, 06:33 AM
 
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Do you teach all gifted or advanced students? Your comments lead me to believe that.

Once you said "What kind of garbage must they have been writing before?"

Well, I'll admit it...Many of my students do have horrible writing skills, and I'd much rather them write like a "step up clone" than the way they do now.
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Old 12-04-2006, 08:23 PM
 
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We are starting Step Up at my school and I am very impressed and excited about it. We are going to use it school wide. My questions are directed to those of you that DO like Step Up and are using it in your classrooms/school/districts.

1) Do you have a pacing calendar or a plan of some sort that you have created by grade level? I am a second grade teacher so I really am most interested in that grade.

2) What rubrics are you using with the writing samples? Are you even collecting writing samples or using rubrics?

3) What is the best place online to get the colored sentence strips? Do they come in packets with just one color or do you have to buy the multicolored packs?

4) DO you have any other helpful hints for me???

Thanks so much!!!!
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Old 01-05-2007, 10:37 PM
 
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I just finished two days of training for secondary Step Up. I found it to be a horrible waste of time for high school teaching. Special Ed: Yes, Remediating students: Yes. For high school level proficiency exams? No.

It's funny, though. The academic coaches loved it as well as the Instructional Facilitators. The teaching staff all thought it overly simplified, inane and encouraging uninspired writing. I will teach the paragraph structuring and essay formatting to my classes to show how important structure and organization is. In all, this is a good elementary program and will be very helpful in teaching younger kids the importance of structure at a young age.

The secondary program is a one size fits all 6-12 program that gives little to no emphasis on the use of voice and audience identification. The definitions of writing modes is completely off mark of what colleges and universities expect students to know. I seriously believe that adopting this program for 7-12 instruction will ultimately do a great disservice to students.
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Sutw
Old 01-08-2007, 07:13 PM
 
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Step Up To Writing will be useful if you have a positive attitude. If you are stuck teaching the same way you've been teaching for years, any new program will be disliked. I was looking for a simple writing plan to get my students moving their pencils across paper, with a topic in mind. Yes, all the papers looked the same (format wise), but they were able to use the steps and have all the requirements, from topic sentence, details, transitions and a conclusion. The students are able to communicate their thoughts and lower their frustration levels. THAT is success.
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need research
Old 02-19-2007, 12:48 PM
 
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I am looking for research on this program. Does anyone know where to find it?
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Old 02-25-2007, 06:38 PM
 
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Step-Up is an organizational tool. It works well when paired with 6-1 writing traits. I don't believe there is one program that works for all. Step-Up gives the students a plan to be successful. In my class the the type of papers vary greatly from wow to the basics, but organization is there.

Remember, it is the teacher and how they present the information that makes it work. Not the program!
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thumbs up
Old 02-26-2007, 06:21 PM
 
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We use Step-up to Writing and it WORKS WONDERS.....
students love the Color-coding.......it begins to give students a structure they can follow..such as "always put a transition word"..always plan how you want to by choosing one of the four methods introduced you......always end by putting a conclusion word.......etc...the colored posters and colorcoding really helps ingrain the system into the child's mind........

i have seen students writing improve at all levels!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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strategies
Old 02-26-2007, 06:22 PM
 
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i forgot to say its a set of strategies, u use what you want....

you can easily tie other programs with it....

ITS great...i am a 4th grade teacher and my whole school is beginning to use it and we have seen dramatic improvement in our children's ability to write
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Step up to Writing works
Old 03-04-2007, 03:08 PM
 
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I work in an inner city school. The entire district is implementing this program, and in my third grade classroom, the students are excited about writing, and they love the color coding with highlighters. After just a few days of using the quick sketches, my students were able to write a story in just 30 minutes where most turned out much better than before we learned to use the quick sketches. Therefore, I am loving the program!
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Old 04-07-2007, 10:35 AM
 
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Well said! I agree with "imalith"! Step-up's structure literally rescues struggling writers and gives them great conficence, often for the first time in their school career! It also serves as a great investigation tool for the more able writers and I don't see it dragging my students down in any way whatsoever. It's a good study and a logical foundation from which to grow. I use it with great success for "the basics," but also bring in other rich writing and we play with that as well. No one program can meet all needs. That's where the *art* of teaching comes in. It's up to us to know our students then pick and choose, take from here and there, and do what we must to meet their wide variety of needs.
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Spec. Ed
Old 05-21-2007, 11:41 AM
 
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I have found Step-up very useful. I love the program. My students have gone from writing nothing to paragraphs. The have shown major improvements on their pre and post writing scores. I am impressed and will continue to use it in my class.
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Step Up
Old 05-21-2007, 02:17 PM
 
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I agree with everyone. Step Up is great! You must be in a whole language trance.
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Compare Step Up with IEW
Old 06-24-2007, 07:42 PM
 
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I have a child who has been exposed to a writing program called IEW for Institute for Excellence in Wrtiting. It is very structured but each child's results end up different. It incorporates public speaking. I haven't seen a better program. In six weeks I have a child that's gone from barely being able to write a sentence to writing a long paragraph....And this is in the first two levels. The best part of the program is that it can be incorporated into every subject area - science, social studies, health etc. The approach is used in many parts of Canada and works well with both reg ed and spec ed students ... especially those with low processing speeds or working memory. Children also quickly learning about adverb and adjective clauses and other parts of speech.
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Teachers using 6+1 with Step up
Old 06-24-2007, 07:58 PM
 
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I am part of a district wide team that is charged with looking at a "way" to improve writing. We have trained special ed teachers Step Up -- It has been well recieved and has started to be used in some general ed programs. 6+1 is represented the best model by some. Those that prefer 6+1 are suggesting that Step Up is contradictory-- Is anyone using both? I see a place for both in the process.
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Where the students are starting from
Old 07-19-2007, 06:02 AM
 
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Okay - stick to your guns, but let me tell you - for lower SES, inner city school children in the Bronx who have none of the advantages of middle class - for instance, most of my 7th graders do not have a computer in their homes, much less their classrooms, they *are* writing crap and they do need formal instruction.

To expect them to pass the same NCLB state test that Westchester kids take is punitive and socially unjust if we do not give them the tools to communicate in the predominate discourse of power. Fine, great, you teach students who already talk the talk - but, I find your observations about students who may benefit from a program like this to be uninformed and insensitive.
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Old 07-21-2007, 04:41 PM
 
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I used the Step Up program a few years ago at an inner city middle school and had wonderful results. This coming year, my school will be using the program along with the 6+1 Traits of writing. As with any writing program available, none of them are the "key." From my experience, a mixture of 2 or more programs will cover what you need and give you the results you want. Just look at what each program has to offer, and use what will work in your classroom. Not everything works for every class. Good luck!!
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Old 08-22-2007, 08:49 PM
 
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I just got our state test results back. After using Step Up for one year we raised our scores significantly. It's not a perfect program, but it is a great tool to add to the tool box.
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Old 08-23-2007, 03:30 PM
 
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Has anyone used Lucy Calkins program, "Units of Study for Primary Writing"? I teach in a small private school and we are trying to decide what to use for teaching writing. We have the Open Court/SRA program and it does not address writing that much. I am not sure if the "Step Up" program or the L. Calkins is a better choice for us. Our school has grades k-6. I teach a combined second and third grade class, and I would like to know what is best for that age. I would appreciate any input. Thanks.
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Two Programs
Old 08-24-2007, 10:09 PM
 
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Step Up is a collection of strategies that when combined with other approaches, such as 6 +1 Traits, or Writer's Workshop, helps most students find success. Another great tool for the teacher is Blowiing Away the State Writing Assessment Test by Jane Bell Kiester.

It is the teacher that needs to be taught how to write. Then that teacher can better decide which strategies might help an individual student during a WWS Conference or which lessons are best taught to the whole group. Teachers need to WRITE. From there, you can hear passion even in a poorly written paper and know how to help that child get organized and have better word choices. When teaching writing, you the teacher, need to know and use every trick in the all the books.
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Old 11-18-2007, 07:15 PM
 
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I also teach in a private school - 2nd grade. I love teaching writing workshop. Our upper elementary is thinking of using Step Up to Writing. I'm very disappointed because it seems to be such a different approach and philosophy. I can see that some teachers would prefer teaching the Step Up program. It seems to require little thought - just plug in a formula. I think that our students deserve better.
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Hate Sitton program
Old 11-24-2007, 07:17 AM
 
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I have the same problem with my son, age 9. He is actually an excellent speller! If you give him a list and he studies it, we talk about the things that make those words spell that way; he does great. How anyone would adopt a program where the words come out of thin air, you have no idea how they were spelled correctly in the first place, and no way to study a list, and then expect students to miraculously spell then righ is beyond me. Clearly the schools that have shelled out the big bucks to adopt this ridiculous program are not going to admit its failures and the poor appropriation of our tax dollars. The kids (whom I would argue are 'visual learners' as opposed to the ESP type of learning) have no hope of excelling in this program. I usually convince the teachers to give me a list, but if you get one that doesn't, your student is out of luck!
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Four Square Writing
Old 04-04-2008, 12:37 PM
 
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I am a middle school special ed teacher, also interested in Step Up. I currently use an inexpensive program (really just a reporducible book), that I really like called Four Square writing. Step up reminds me of it. Has anyone used Four Square Writing and if so, what do you think of it? My students love it.
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Great Strategies
Old 04-29-2008, 09:36 AM
 
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I have been using the writing strategies in the program and have seen great success and improvement with my students. Let us not forget that it is not the program that makes something work, but how you explicitly teach the strategies and engage the students. I absolutely love the color coding strategies and the word lists that the program provides. My students' writing are all different and definitely do not sound alike. The organization part of the writing process is very important. Once your students have mastered the organization part, then you can challenge them to bury or omit transition words, and even use the higher level transition words. I absolutley love how on the detail part of the writing they can come up with metaphors and similies, explanations, examples, and experiences. My students know and understand that I am looking for them to paint a picture in my head. They learn how to write detail sentences that fit their reason or point with adjectives that can help me imagine what they are writing. I believe that the program offers excellent tips, lists, organizers, and strategies for a successful writing program. Once again, it is not the program that makes something work, but the individual who believes and is convinced that it works!
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1st grade teacher
Old 08-08-2008, 12:33 PM
 
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Lucy Caulkin's program is wonderful! Students seem to be wonderful writers. They learn many skills. I just came from a school that recently adopted it. We were very excited to begin using the program.
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Re: Step Up
Old 10-07-2008, 07:15 PM
 
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WOW! Sounds like someone is a little bit bitter. Maybe you should change your profession! Seriously, get a grip woman. I like Step Up to Writing so far. Of course I only use parts of it as TOOLS for teaching. It's not a stand-alone program.
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last message
Old 10-07-2008, 07:20 PM
 
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Oh that last message was for MaryTeach...she seems like a bitter old school hag.
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I teach SUTW and have for years
Old 10-23-2008, 11:48 AM
 
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I teach SUTW in an urban high school to both honors and remedial students. SUTW is mainly for teaching essay structure, sentence variety through expanded vocabulary and for stretching content. When you want to add style, voice and creativity, you have to be creative and teach that as supplementary material. Don't rely on one program for everything, is my advice. The implication that teachers who like SUTW must be few in number, and somewhat of an abberation, is incorrect. You actually have to have the skill to recognize the missing components of the program, and know what to supplement. Overall a fine program, when it is differentiated to meet the needs of each grade level and skill level, and allows creativity for the teacher. Using SUTW, we have an increased number of kids who pass the high school exit exam writing component.
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For MaryTeach
Old 04-08-2009, 12:02 PM
 
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You obviously do not teach special education. This is a wonderful tool to teach ID/LD students to learn to organize their writing. Just because YOU don't like it doesn't mean it is not a good tool for students with special needs.
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9th Grade English Teacher
Old 05-13-2009, 07:44 PM
 
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I absolutely love Step Up to Writing. I can teach students the organizational structure of an expository essay through color-coding. When students first enter my 9th grade classroom, they have no idea--even my best writers--how to organize an essay because they lack the knowledge that an essay categorically moves from a general concept to a specific concept to a more specific concept to a most specific concept. So for all you teachers who absolutely despise Step Up to Writing, teach the students the organizational structure of an essay, if nothing else. I believe that one of the reasons why students enter high school without the skill to organize an essay is because many teachers lack the knowledge themselves. I have had tremendous results with this program. You can too! Give it a try.
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Need help!!
Old 05-22-2009, 12:25 PM
 
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I see a lot of people putting down the Step Up program and I was wondering if anyone has any recommendations for other writing programs that would be suitable for students with LDs.

THANKS!
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Writing
Old 11-21-2009, 07:33 AM
 
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I agree with you. Some teachers do not know how to write . . . . I teach English in high school. Through the years I've had conferences with parents who were teachers. They admitted they could not help their own children because they knew very little about writing. How can they teach if they cannot write? Students tell me no teacher ever explained anything about their writing.

They appear to know nothing about prewriting. When I ask them to revise their writing, they are clueless. Surely, they should remember something they did with the writing process before they become juniors and seniors in high school.

MyAccess is a wonderful on-line program that helps students with planning, writing, and revising. It provides hundreds of prompts and gives immediate feedback to students, teachers, and administrators. There are many resources for students and teachers such as word lists, pictures, pre-writing graphic organizers, letters to parents, etc.) My students are 100% focused and passionate about their writing when we use MyAccess.
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Not on PT
Old 11-21-2009, 12:11 PM
 
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Please don't use derogatory personal comments on this board...we prefer courtesy.
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Step Up to Writing
Old 04-14-2010, 09:09 AM
 
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What are some of the drawbacks of the Step to Writing program? I've seen students who were terrible writers and when taught some structure became better writers. Please let tell me your experience and thoughts about this, because I am looking into using the program.

Thanks!
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Step UP
Old 04-14-2010, 09:48 AM
 
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Step Up was written to help struggling students organize their writing. It is not a tool that can be used as a program. Students that are good writers can't stand the way this is organized and it makes them crazy. It is great for students that struggle with organization but it is not good for all writers.
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teacher
Old 10-04-2010, 07:20 AM
 
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It sounds like the teachers in the grades below you aren't using the program correctly. We did it in a college class and everyones paragraphs came out differently. That's because everyones experiences are different. Step- up is much more than green, yellow and red. Most elementary teachers get stuck in the basics and never move ahead. Remember this was a program designed for middle school originally and it does a fantastic job if used correctly. Every student need to start out with a model they can emulate. You can't imagine the voice that some of my students exhibit once they have writing success because of step up and they internalize the process. Then, the voice starts to emerge.
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Old 10-04-2010, 11:48 AM
 
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Do you like the open court/SRA program? Are you having success with it?
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Back to Step Up
Old 10-08-2010, 02:36 PM
 
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I have used Step Up to Writing for years in the classroom. I use it very successfully with a combination of 6+1 Traits. I see Step Up as the "organizational" piece of 6 Traits. I see organization as the foundation for students to begin to work on the other traits; such as voice or word choice. Step Up does an excellent job of giving the teacher and students tools that are both visual and tactile to work on organization. I taught with Step Up for various contests and my students always fared well. Once they have the organizational piece down, you can really work with them on revising their content with 6+1 Traits. Step Up helps students who could never write, be able to write a good, solid essay. It also helps those who were already pretty good writers to polish their writing and become excellent writers. I cannot say enough good about it and I used it not with remedial students, but with gifted students. It is an excellent program. Essays on any state test are always judged hugely on organization. I have found nothing but success with it.
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grade 6 teacher
Old 11-27-2010, 02:00 PM
 
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I have used Four Square Writing before and am using parts of Step Up for the first time ever this year. I still use some of the quick warm up exercises that I loved in the Four Square book. Step Up has some great strategies and is a great place to start with my whole class.While some of my struggling students tend to hold fast to the structure it offers, more advanced writers branch off and successfully take more risks. I find that utilizing the Step Up strategies helps me better differentiate my instruction. It provides us with common language, and structure to fall back on. Once we get writing though- I meet with students in guided writing groups and can take those who are ready much further.
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Lucy Calkins - Writing Workshop
Old 12-20-2010, 12:32 PM
 
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If you have a lot of time to read, then you will find LC very insightful. LC uses a lot of dialogue from her own (and other's?) teaching experiences. I think the books could have been written more "teacher friendly." They are unorganized and frustrating for teachers who are already pressed for time. I actually think the ideas are great. It just takes so long to read them and organize them for use. Her ideas are all over the place. So, for a writer with wonderful writing tips, she sure makes it hard for us to read and use them. I would like her to go through and revise her whole format. Then, I would probably give it high marks.
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2nd grade teacher
Old 08-31-2011, 01:01 PM
 
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We are starting Step up this year in our elementary schools. I'm a second grade teacher who just had an hr. inservice on it and was given a stack of papers. I feel like I have no idea on how to get this started and implemented. Any helpful hints??

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Step Up To Writing
Old 12-29-2012, 12:46 PM
 
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I too am using step up to writing in a second grade classroom. This is the 2nd year I have taught it. We are doing a school wide program, building on each year.

1. I do not have a pacing calendar. I start with topic sentences using power words. We do this whole group over any topic I can relate it to. We might use a science or social studies topic or even a math problem. Once I feel that the majority of the students have this, we move on to conclusions since they are basically restating. There are always a small number that struggle with the topic sentence. I pull them up individually and also have those students that "get it" help them. Once we have topic sentences and conclusions, we move on to transitions and a five sentence paragraph. By the end of the year, we have worked up to an 8 sentence paragraph.

2. I am actually working on creating rubrics right now.

3. I didn't bother with colored sentence strips. Construction paper works just as well. I made booklets with green covers and yellow insides for the five sentence paragraphs. The pages were layered so that you could see each sentence at the bottom. At the top, the students could illustrate the sentence. They loved this. We did one for Christmas about a different way Santa could deliver toys.

4. As for helpful hints, take a little at a time. I think I have done much more this year than I did last year with it. If you are interested, I have several power points and other things I would be happy to share.
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