Principles We Can Reflect on When Working with Striving Writers
- Expect ALL students to achieve goals in writing and celebrate milestones toward those goals.
- When students are able to complete the work with independence, the modifications are successful.
- Build on a student’s strengths versus focusing or working on areas of weakness all of the time.
- Be explicit when teaching writing stamina (Quantity before Quality, at least, at first) – Teach into it – it doesn't happen overnight.
- Help students discover his/her writing passions – Ralph Fletcher calls these life topics, which are topics we revisit again and again.
Some Practical Tips to Keep in Mind when Working with Striving Writers
- Keep teaching points the same for all students – the way that students access the teaching point will vary.
- Modify the levels of support needed for students to learn the teaching point according to the strengths and needs of all students.
- The work will look different from student to student, however, the process students will have gone through, will have been similar.
- Focus on the main objectives of a UoS (Unit of Study) and or m.l., rather than getting caught up in the small details – what are the big goals of the unit – see CCLS for direction with this in planning.
- Read aloud the child’s writing to him or her on a somewhat regular basis, and do it with an incredible read aloud voice (read it as literature). Calkins calls this reading it ‘like it’s gold’
- It helps to think in 3s – What are three goals for this student inside of this unit? Remember that we can build smaller milestones into larger goals.
- Provide students with alternative methods for planning and drafting: storyboarding/booklets, planning boxes, webs, index cards
- For ELLs, encourage sketching and labeling as an access point to expressive language.
Community is everything. Build a place that honors struggle, reflection and goal-setting. Make all kids an expert at something, so that we have ‘go-to’ people for help. Create charts that teach. Recognize and celebrate the efforts of all, while nudging writers toward new heights and more ambitious goals.