principal's expectaion (long)

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by gab, Oct 15, 2010.

  1. gab

    gab Comrade

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    Oct 15, 2010

    Does anyone have a resource for dev. appropr. writing practices? Or a researched continuum for writing development that indicates time frames/durations for writing?

    One of my principal's expectations is for all students, k-6, to be able to write daily for 30 minutes, sustained, by the end of the year. Our state test scores, in all areas, were much lower this last school year. She believes that we need to build writing endurance so students can do better on state testing in the spring. This is her solution.

    I questioned quality writing over quantity/time duration writing. I questioned whether this was developmentally appropriate or researched base. She said to start them 1 minute per year of age but she had research that supports 30 minutes sustained writing. I am waiting to see her research but this just doesn't sit well with me. It doesn't seem natural. When she taught, she said she was able to get 60 minutes of quality writing from her class daily.

    We are currently at 8-9 minutes but none of my 25 students write the entire time. The quality of writing varies as does the amount they write. Some write very little, some a few sentences, a few write several sentences. My fear is that the longer students are expected to write, sustained, the more poor writing we'll get because students will write just to fill in time, not necessarily to add great info or details to their writing.

    Any help would be appreciated.
     
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  3. Momma C

    Momma C Comrade

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    Oct 15, 2010

    :yeahthat: I would rather have quality over quantity any day. Sounds like she wants to build stamina, rather than skill. On MS state tests they are scored on quality, not quantity. If you see her research, pass it on to us.
     
  4. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Oct 16, 2010

    You need to read anything and everything on Writer's Workshop on quality writing. If your mini-lessons have a purpose then your kids writing will improve. They should have a focus everyday that is purposeful - for example exploring great leads, great endings, using dialogue correctly, etc. You will be amazed at how quickly that time will pass once kids have a focus for their writing. I agree - just writing for the sake of writing is not going to improve test scores. But writing with a purpose will produce better writing and will give students the tools that they need to become better writers. The time will become a nonissue when they are actively engaged in this type of purposeful learning and soon even at the younger levels when they are going through the Writing Process Cycle - you will see that 30 minutes is not even enough time on most days. Promise. :thumb: My resource of choice: Lucy Calkins. LOVE HER!:love:
     
  5. UVAgrl928

    UVAgrl928 Habitué

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    Oct 16, 2010

    Ew, I don't like Calkins, but I definitely agree on the mini-lessons! We didn't have any formal writing program set up in the past. Last year I used Calkins and saw some improvement after the mini-lessons full of modeling and tied to children's literature.

    This year my whole team got on board and decided to try out the 6 + 1 program. My kids this year are loving it! I start almost everyday with a story. Before I begin reading, I normally tell them what we will write about after. So while I am reading them the story, they can start thinking about ideas. You know how they always have a million stories to tell you when you do a read aloud? Those now become their stories to write about! Sometimes we also brainstorm as a class before we get started (since this seems to be where most of my kids have a lot of trouble). The mentor texts make all the difference in the world. My second graders can now write for 30 minutes... in previous years, I would have never thought this was possible!

    In regards with what program to use, our issue with Calkins is that it is very scripted. If that is your teaching style, then she is perfect for you! However, some of the mentor texts are outdated and out of print, so they may be harder to find. If you like more flexibility, then the 6 + 1 program might be better for you!
     
  6. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    Oct 16, 2010

    Lucy will be the first to tell you that you do not need to follow the script. The script is there as a guide. Many new teachers, and teachers new to writing workshop, need a guide and example. Calkins will be the first to tell you to use your own anchor texts and own stories. Once you are comfortable with the units and are able to determine the best needs of your class, you make the lessons your own and beef them up or repeat them as necessary. It is not intended for you to do every lesson exactly as scripted in her book and in that same order. You are the teacher and make the decisions based on your professional opinions.
     
  7. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Oct 16, 2010

    That doesn't make a bit of sense to me. I was an awesome writer in high school. My papers in college always received an A. Even if my grammar stunk I could make up for it with my style and depth of content.

    But I'd never be able to write according to a time limit. I could write a response to a prompt. I could answer essay questions in a given time. Those answers and responses would be finished before the time limit though. Even when I had to test into my AP classes I would write until I had made my point, not until I reached a minimum time.

    Methinks your principal misunderstood the research she is quoting.
     
  8. gab

    gab Comrade

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    Oct 16, 2010

    Thanks for the feedback.

    My principal did say her goal is stamina. I tried to get her to see that quality should be the goal but she is certain this is the right way to improve scores. My team is working on 6 traits +1, read alouds w/ mini lessons.

    I wonder if it would be appropriate to contact the district curriculum coordinator regarding this idea.

    I do want to see her research when she has finished "putting it together." It sounds like she is pulling bits and pieces from several sources to support her idea. I was just hoping to have some research to present in favor of quality writing.

    I'll look into L.C. and also Reggie Routman(sp), someone she mentioned as a resource. We'll see.
     
  9. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Oct 16, 2010

    The problem with your argument, imo is that quantity and quality CAN co-exist. A half an hour/day is nothing, but as your principal says, it will take some time to build up stamina to do this.
     
  10. Mrs. R.

    Mrs. R. Connoisseur

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    Oct 16, 2010

    Stamina, though, is important. Katie Wood Ray addresses the issue of writing stamina in her book Writing Workshop: Working Through the Hard Parts (and they're all hard parts). This is one of my favorite resources when it comes to writing workshop.
    Much of the reading I've done over the past few years stresses the importance of both stamina and quality. Reading and writing are things you DO, not things you KNOW, so practice is essential.
     
  11. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Oct 18, 2010

    Standardized essay tests are pretty bad to begin with, and aren't like real writing.

    To a certain extent, quantity is important. If an "essay" is just a few sentences it doesn't matter how good they are, the essay will still be downgraded. Learn the typical essay length of the top scorers and go for that, no less and no more.

    A lot of standardized grading comes down to little things. Does the student write in paragraphs, within the margins? Do they indent? Do they have a topic sentence? These aren't things that tell whether someone's actually a good writer, but will make a difference on a test.

    No one who's any good at writing takes a 30-minute essay, and starts writing at minute 1 and stops at minute 30. At the very least, they plan for a few minutes in the beginning to work out the organization, sometimes using a relatively standard framework.

    And also, you should have all the students have at least a couple of vocabulary words available that are beyond their grade level, and teach them how to use colons and semicolons if they already can write simple sentences.
     

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