Wednesday, March 31, 2010

ASSIGNMENT TWO: WRITTEN REFLECTION–Section One- The Essential Writing Life Chapters 1-3

Reflect on the following comments written below from Chapters 1-3 and any additional thoughts that you have after reading these chapters.

Chapter 1: Simplify the Teaching of Writing
• Simplify our teaching
• Becoming more knowledgeable about teaching writing
• Examine your beliefs

Regie gets to the heart of her book Writing Essentials with this quote on the final page of Chapter One: “By reducing the clutter in our teaching lives-the overplanning, the unnecessary activities, the paper load, all the ‘stuff’ that takes our time and energy and does little to improve teaching and learning-we bring joy back into our work and the world of our students.” Many of us work very hard and spend many hours complicating our teaching lives. In this book Regie will help you simplify your teaching life for your benefit and that of your students.

One of the frustrations that teachers encounter regularly is the ever changing “latest and best” writing programs that districts or states force on them and their students. With this revolving cycle of programs, teachers are spending too much time learning how to use the program rather than becoming better writing teachers. Regie explains that in the districts where students are the best writers, they are writing for real purposes and audiences and publishing their writing; teachers are not using prescribed writing programs.

Look at Appendix A (page A-2.) Examine your beliefs about writing by reading the statements about the writing process and marking true or false in your book. (Go ahead and write in your book, it’s OK! You can even use a pencil and mark very lightly if you want to.) We found this activity very enlightening. Let us know what you think after you complete the activity.

In your reflection for Section One, please include your thoughts about the following questions or statements:

• Regie demonstrates how to use the Optimal Learning Model (shown on the front cover and page 11) throughout the book. Consider how the Optimal Learning Model fits into your own instruction.
• As you think about how to teach writing so that all students can become successful, effective and joyful writers, reflect on how you presently teach the “12 Writing Essentials” (as described on pages 13-14 in the text) during your daily writing instruction. As we continue to read through Regie’s book, hopefully you will begin to see how you might make changes in your instruction to better incorporate these “12 Writing Essentials.”

Chapter 2: Start With Celebration
• Make sure writing is meaningful not just correct
• Use stories as springboards and ensure that ALL students hear stories
• Write in front of your students and connect home and school

The title of Chapter Two simply states, “Start with Celebration,” and that’s exactly what we need to do for our students. The celebration of all students’ writing needs to be put into the forefront and be made our first teaching goal. Celebrations should happen school-wide, within our classrooms and with students individually. As children begin to see themselves as successful writers, they will take more risks in their writing and in turn will become better writers who enjoy the writing process.
Another key point that Regie highlights in this chapter is to “make sure writing is meaningful, not just correct!” Students need to understand that writing is “enjoyable and for a real purpose and audience.” She also reminds us “that teaching skills in isolation does not make student writers; neither does teaching to the test. And breaking writing into bits and pieces robs children of the joy of writing.”

Regie suggests using stories as a springboard for teaching and learning. Hearing and telling stories builds our students’ oral language skills and these stories are “an entryway into reading and writing.” Only when students are reading and writing real stories can they connect the “skills” based learning to their reading and writing!

Please include your thoughts about the following questions or statements in your written reflection of Section One:

• Regie explains how important celebrating student writing is. How do you celebrate student writing in your classroom? How might you add more celebration of student writing to your day/year?
• Consider what changes you could make in your writing instruction to make writing more meaningful and purposeful for your students.

Assignment One: Introduction

Welcome to Writing Essentials! We look forward to working and learning with you. In order for everyone to get the most out of the course, please be sure to read and respond to each others comments. Please try to keep your responses within one allotted "comment" space to ensure that the blog remains manageable for all participants :)

ASSIGNMENT ONE: Post your Introduction to the course Blog.

Introduction Post- Tell us about yourself. Where do you teach? What grade do you teach? How long have you been teaching? How many students are there in your class? Do you have instructional support? What does your current literacy program look like? (If you aren’t currently teaching let us know.) What is your knowledge/training in the area of literacy (be specific about your experiences teaching writing?) Does your district provide training in literacy –especially writing? If so, what exactly have they offered? Has your district been bogged down with getting students to perform well on state writing assessments – prompts? How do you feel about teaching? Are you happy at work? Also, let us know a little about you outside of the classroom: Interests/ Hobbies/Family Life? What do you hope to get out of this course? Post your reflection to the blog.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Assignment Nine: Final Course Reflection

This is it everyone!!! Welcome to the last assignment for the course! All coursework is due 3/12!!!

It's been great reading what you all have to share! Take a look at the last section in Regie's text, Writing Essentials, it's chock full of great resources!!!

Teaching in Action: Lesson Essentials

5 Day Lesson Plans & Appendices
• Secrets of Second Graders
• Heart Poems
• Procedural writing
• Hero writing
• Persuasive writing
• Appendix survey
Be sure to look through this section. If you haven’t already done so, look at Appendix A (page A-2.) Re-examine your beliefs about writing by re-reading the statements about the writing process and marking true or false in your book. Did you change any of your previous answers? Would you consider bringing this page to your team or even to your entire school to jumpstart discussions about writing?

Take some time to look through the appendices. There are several useful examples included. One we’d like to point out to you is Appendix L- The Genre Characteristics Excerpt on page A-13. Look to the Writing Essentials companion website at for the entire chart as well as directions to assist you playing the DVD.

ASSIGNMENT NINE: Final Course Reflection - Critically examine your current literacy program and develop realistic goals to improve your instruction. Also reflect on the balance between your home and school life. If our students are to become happy, literate people, they need happy, balanced teachers. BRIEFLY, share several of your goals with the class by posting them to the blog for this final assignment.

We would appreciate any feedback you might be able to give us about the course! Please email us comments and thank-you for participating in our course!!!! Jackie & Mary!