Incredible Educators

Put Down the Red Pen

20081203_RedPensLet’s be honest with each other: Revision is the most dreaded step in the writing process, both for students and teachers. Why? To be blunt, often times it is a colossal waste of time, because it usually consists of students receiving back their writing with markings all over it, only to mindlessly rewrite it a second time, with maybe (if we’re lucky) some of the corrections added in. When this is the revision process, writing ceases to be a creative process and instead becomes a rote, dreaded hand-cramping task.

As educators, it is important to remember that the hand making the corrections is attached to the brain doing the learning. Thus, when students’ writing is returned already corrected for them, whether they’re 5 or 15 or 45, one of the most important processes: the refinement of their written thoughts, becomes pacified and a message of “I know better” is conveyed.
More importantly, a student’s written piece must be revered as the work of art (and heart) that it is. Few things feel more vulnerable than expressing one’s thoughts, feelings, and new-found knowledge on paper to be analyzed and critiqued. Just as we would object to art teachers painting on work in students’ portfolios or piano teachers interrupting performers to play the sonata better, so, too, must we question the underlying message teachers send when they return writing covered in red ink.

So what are teachers to do? It’s simple but oh so difficult to do; it’s remembering the answer to this question, “Who, ultimately, is the only person who can improve student performance?”

The answer: The student.

Indeed, teachers can begin to transform the revision process by putting down their correcting pens and instead engaging students in lessons and activities that will show them how to critique and augment their own writing.

Through future blogs, we’ll offer specific ways to enhance and upgrade the revision process to make it the respected and vital element of writing it is intended to be, all the while remembering it’s our job as educators to provide the tools and resources for revision and model using them so that students can then use them as they revise their own writing.

But for now, put down the red

If You Give Students Sophisticated Word Choice

hp-009_1zInspired by one of our favorite children’s books, we know if you give students Sophisticated Word Choice, they’ll want to use them in a sentence.
When they use them in a sentence, they learn the power of vivid language.
When they understand the power of vivid language, they’ll want to learn more interesting words.
When they learn more interesting words, they’ll want to make their sentence a Power Sentence.
When they write a Power Sentence, they’ll want to write another.
When they write another, they’ll be amazed at their own abilities.
When they’re amazed at their own abilities, they will want to write more and share it with their peers and families. When they want to write more and share it with their peers and families, they’re ready for the next Level of Writing!

6 Ways Writing With Design Helps You ACE the Common Core Writing Standards

6 Ways Writing With Design Helps You ACE the Common Core Writing Standards

Writing with Design:

1. Aligns 100% to Common Core Standards
As Writing with Design is implemented, you can rest assured your students are mastering every writing skill. From the writing prompts to the rubrics to the skill focus activities, every aspect of Writing with Design focuses on the Core.

2. Makes Writing Accessible for Every Student
Whether students are 5 or 15, our approach lets you meet every student where they are and grow their writing skills to impressive levels. Within a year of implementation, students will be ready to articulate well their thoughts in writing on any next generation assessment.

3. Incorporates Relevant and Meaningful Writing Across the Curriculum
Since Common Core believes that every teacher is a literacy teacher, Writing with Design provides opportunities for high quality writing in every class. With lengths of writing activities spanning one sentence to essay-length, we make it practical to incorporate meaningful and doable writing into every class anytime.

4. Creates a School Culture Focused on High Quality Writing
Our approach teaches students the structures and strategies of strong writers. Since we focus on quality, students quickly learn what it takes to write with sophistication and voice. With the same rubrics used to assess writing in every class, expectations remain high every time students write.

5. Provides Relevant and Real Time Feedback from Writing Analysts
We let you know how students are performing three times per year through formal writing feedback from skilled writing analysts. Plus you will have access to students’ scores on writing assessments and assignments on our web-based software, allowing you see real progress in real time.

6. Gives You Everything You Need to Confidently Teach Writing
A comprehensive manual + a constantly growing online bank of resources = everything you need to effectively teach and incorporate writing in your content area, from introducing a writing prompt to honing specific stylistic skills. No other program supports teachers with as many ready-to-use and purposeful writing activities as Writing with Design. Plus, ongoing support via follow-up workshops, webinars, and online chats provide you with the support to make teaching writing enjoyable and purposeful. We work with schools for several years to cultivate a strong writing culture that lasts and lasts.

Ok, 7 reasons why…

7. Cultivates a Love of Writing in Students
Be prepared to be amazed as students become eager, confident writers! Teachers often comment that students ask to write about activities throughout day because they have the skills to convey their thoughts and want to showcase what they can do.

 

Just How Far We’ve Come

2023999Before spring break, several of my 2nd grade students came up to me and asked for paper to take home. My first thought was that it was so they could draw pictures and color. “No, Mrs. Plescher, we want to write!” Isabella informed me.

In that moment, I felt as though one of my year’s goals had been accomplished. I set out the year, using Writing with Design, to empower my students to be confident, eager writers. Realizing they wanted to spend time over their break thinking and writing showed me just how far they had come since September. The same students who rushed through writing, who were resistant to writing more than two sentences, who often said, “I don’t have anything else to write about,” now had the motivation, desire, and pride to write independently.

Writing is now an integral part of our classroom culture. As a teacher, I used to think, “What can I possibly write about this week?” Now, my students and I often say, “Oooh! Let’s write about that!” several times during each day. From working on sophisticated words to creative titles to strong endings, we have all come so far with writing this year!

 

 

 

A 2nd Grader Wrote THAT?

Just last week, I shared with middle school teachers writings created by a 2nd grade class. The middle school teachers were floored, “2nd graders wrote that?!? It’s better than most of what my 8th graders could do!”

It wasn’t the length that was impressive about the 2nd graders’ work. In fact, their writings were only 2-3 sentences long. What made the writng so impressive?
Two things: sophisticated word choice and sentence structure.
The 2nd grade teacher focuses solely on the quality of writing, not length. Without question, making length the integral foundation of writing sets students up to write more fluff than substance. Length will come naturally when students are ready, when they are confident, when they understand how language works and how to structure incredible sentences.

Thoughts on Sandy Hook’s Heroes

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What occurred in an elementary school last week is inescapable. It resonates with every indivdual who has learned of the event. As a classroom teacher and now as director for TLP, I can only hope I would have been as brave and selfless as Principal Hochsprung, Mrs. Sherlach, Miss Soto, Miss Rousseau, Mrs. Murphy, and Miss D’Avino.

I struggle with whether this senseless killing should be national news with nonstop media coverage magnifying the suffering. Knowing the specific timeline of the morning does not help with healing, only vivifies the nightmare.

Instead, what should be national news every day are profiles of the phenomenal women and men across this country who welcome students into their classrooms, who teach children to write and read, think and create; who spend their own money to make their classrooms incredible places; who worry about the wellbeing of “their kids;” who put in long hours long after the dismissal bell to tutor, prepare tomorrow’s experiment, and run the arts club. I have the honor of working with them across this grand country.

The teachers and administrators at Sandy Hook Elementary are heroes. And I know thousands more teachers and administrators who would have acted with the same selfless bravery. To every teacher and administrator, The Learning Project salutes you.

I encourage us all to spend more time celebrating, thanking, and supporting the phenomenal educators in this country than watching media coverage about this senseless act. Check out Donor’s Choose to be inspired and support teachers across this country. Read this. Follow #26acts, #20acts, and #SHES on Twitter to see how others are honoring the spirits of the amazing women and children who lost their lives last week.

Schools are safe places. Teachers work tirelessly to educate and cultivate young minds. Our country is an amazing place full of compassionate people. I find solace in remembering that every act of compassion counts far more than any awful act.

While there is much to process and learn from this horrific event, there is no doubt about the incredible work educators perform every day, all day.

 

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