Sunday, November 6, 2016

Assignment Eight: Written Reflection- Sections 4 & 5

Sections Four and Five- Advocacy Is Also Essential and Teaching In Action: Lesson Essentials

Assignment Eight: Read Writing Essentials Chapters 11-12 and Section Five. Reflect on the comments below and any additional reactions you have after reading these chapters. Post your thoughts to the course blog.

Chapter 11: Build on Best Practice and Research • What are some of the key research findings most relevant to writing instruction?

• What are the practices of highly effective teachers?

• How can you be part of the ongoing professional development discussions in your building?

• What about test scores? What are the characteristics of high performing schools?

• Think twice before adopting a “program”

Regie begins this chapter sharing her experiences doing residencies in schools and the surprising (and delightful) discovery that whole school cultures changed during the course of their work improving literacy instruction. As she said, “This is what education should be about…whole schools working together so that all students (can) succeed.” How is the climate/culture in your school? On your team? One reason we continue to look to Regie for inspiration is that we feel she is so practical. There is not one right way or method to teach writing. “That is why formulas, programs and recipes don’t work. Every context, school and person is different and has different needs. Literacy is not a set of acquired or learned skills.”

Chapter 12: Make Every Minute Count• You need to “REDUCE THE PAPER LOAD!!!”

• What can we do that will save us time and allow us to focus more on meaningful instruction?

• Regie states, “Take more time to see the light!” Don’t get bogged down with daily worksheets and isolated exercises.

Though this chapter is short it is full of valuable ideas and reminders! Regie reminds us in this chapter to stop and reflect about what we are doing in the classroom. Ask yourself: Is this the best use of my time? Is what I’m about to do going to help my students become more joyful and accomplished readers, writers and thinkers?

“It might be that the best use of your time is to read a professional book, see a movie, visit with a friend. Sharing your experiences with your students may be a more useful way to get them to think about their writing than marks and comments on a paper.” “It’s hard to come to school all excited about teaching if you’ve spent hours the night before pouring over papers.” It is a disservice to our students and ourselves “if our out-of-school time is all about paperwork.” In fact, “Teachers’ comments on students’ papers do little to improve writing, even if the comments are positive ones. It is far more effective to conference with students and focus on specific writing issues with the student at your side.”

Also “(b)e sure that most of your writing time is devoted to writing, not preparing for writing or doing activities about writing. Safeguard sustained writing time; it’s critical for becoming a writer. Limit take-home work for students too, and place more emphasis on free-choice reading. Having more reading experiences positively impacts growth in writing skills.”

Regie closes this chapter by reminding us to breathe, relax and enjoy writing- and your life! “One way to reduce stress and have more energy for teaching and advocacy is to have a life outside of school. I worry about teachers and principals who work twelve-hour days. I have seen no research that shows educators who work the longest hours get the best results or that longer reading and writing projects teach more about reading and writing. Keep evaluating whether what you’re staying late for-or the hours of work you take home-will help your students  become more effective readers and writers."


  1. To me, in this section of the book, Regie is a teacher’s teacher. She knows what it is like to be a teacher and all the things we struggle with. I paid particular attention to her comments about how teachers need to use their time wisely, the information found under Some Key Research Findings and her comments about English Language Learners.

    Regie thoughts about reducing paper load and writing comments on papers struck a chord with me. I totally agree, writing conferences are a much more meaningful and efficient way to connect with students than spending time outside of class writing red comments on papers. That is a thankless arduous task. I think, this naturally segues into the idea of teaching the student, not a program. Conferences allow the teachers to teach whole to part and keep focus on the needs of the individual student.

    The Research Findings are there to inform and guide my teaching or as I thought of them “The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Instruction.” Finally, in regards to my ELL students here in Taiwan, she reinforced my decision to get them writing from day one. It helps them learn and raises expectations in class.

    As for having a life outside of school, it is all about creating a balanced life for oneself.

  2. We agree! We also feel that Regie is "a teacher's teacher." :) Yes, conferring is by far a stronger way to meet the needs of the individual students, plus they love the one-on-one time.