I am curious about how teachers in my school may respond to this project. What are your thoughts? Do you have any suggestions?
Purpose of this Project:
This project will help non-ELA teachers in my school become familiar with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for writing that they are required by the Common Core to include, help them become more comfortable with assigning and assessing writing in their classrooms, and open the door for communication and collaboration between departments. The goal is to begin a conversation that has the potential to unify our staff with regards to writing expectations for the sake of students.
How it Demonstrates/Integrates Best Practices:
Encouraging writing in disciplines other than ELA provides an opportunity to use some tenants of Best Practice in Writing that can be difficult to incorporate in the context of an ELA classroom. For example:
All students (and people) can and should write – this is obviously a practice in ELA classrooms. Incorporating meaningful, purposeful writing into other disciplines can provide students with a context that helps them to understand why this is important and give them a chance to practice. A scientific description, historical account, or mathematical proof can give students more opportunities to practice good writing.
Help students find real purposes and real audiences to reach – perhaps this explains itself, but in discipline specific writing, a purpose is almost automatically included, whereas in ELA it is easier to do writing for the sake of writing. The context in Health or Spanish is implied. The continued challenge in every discipline is to provide a real audience.
In more formal writing projects, which non-ELA teachers may choose to take on, other best practices such as helping students get started, guiding students as they draft and revise, and conferencing with individual students on their writing may also be included. The tools we are implementing in this project will help non-ELA teachers feel more comfortable with using forms of Best Practice in Writing.
We will be presenting and helping to implement use of the Writing Across the Curriculum resource found at http://thirdcoastwritingproject.wordpress.com/big-questions/writing-across-the-curriculum/. This resource provides tools to guide discussion around the Common Core State Writing Standards with all content area teachers.
The first step will be to create a team that will introduce and encourage the discussion as well as support teachers as they being to incorporate more purposeful writing in their classrooms. My goal is to invite the principal and ELA department chair to participate on this team, as well as any other individuals they think would be interested and beneficial to the process, such as the curriculum director, interested teachers, or those who have expressed an interest in writing more in their classrooms.
Our next step would be to use the How to Use this Guide tool to have a discussion about how our staff can best use this tool to enhance student learning and understanding of Writing. We will come up with a timeline that outlines how and when we will present the conversation to staff and what we will expect to see in the activities of staff as a result. The goal is to have this discussion before the 2012-2013 school year begins and to introduce the conversation during the first marking period.
Finally, we will need to provide support and encouragement to staff as they participate. The points below outline the things staff will need to understand as well as strategies that could help us to support the staff as they participate in this conversation and apply their new learning to their teaching.
Important Points to emphasize with staff:
- Every staff member is in a different place as far as writing in the classroom is concerned and we respect that.
- We are a hard working, energetic staff that is open to new ideas.
- We are trying to begin a conversation, not necessarily transform writing right off the bat.
- We are not asking for total change, but a conversation that will help us look at CCSS, as well as the writing we already do in our own classrooms with new eyes.
- The goal is to add value to writing your students are already doing in your subject area. Applying CCSS will provide continuity for students. With similar expectations for similar types of writing in different classrooms, students will be able to focus on the writing process and pertinent content rather than memorizing varying expectations between teachers.
- This conversation is meant to make the CCSS implementation easier; it is not a complete overhaul.
- The conversation is meant to take some of the pressure OFF of the ELA department, even though it might seem work heavy for them in the beginning.
Possible Support Strategies
- Create a master document of common ideas and vocabulary (with definitions) as the conversation progresses. Place this document somewhere that all teachers can easily access and refer to it.
- Communicate to staff that they can be honest if they are feeling overwhelmed with writing expectations.
- Establish a point person to collect questions and concerns and bring them back to the team to address.
Send short email reminders to staff summarizing what the most recent phase of the conversation contained and where they can find resources.