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Showing posts from January, 2010

Encouraging Real Independence in Writing

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At the start of every school year the term ‘independent learners’ is frequently heard when teachers begin to articulate their goals for the year ahead. They want their students to develop as independent, self directed learners. This is a worthy aspirational goal!

The question I would ask is, –How will you achieve this? What will you do to make this ‘independence’ a reality in the classroom? What will students say and do that indicates they are working independently?

In the writing classroom independence develops when students:

• Are encouraged to select their own writing focus or topic -And their teacher believes they are capable of this deeper thinking.

• Materials for writing are readily accessible

• Frequent opportunities are provided for planning writing and thinking about future writing and ‘rehearsing’ writing thoughts between writing workshops.

• Choose to work on the same writing piece across several lessons.

• Willingly embrace revision in anticipation of a writing conference…

Working with our youngest readers and writers

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Research has confirmed the fact that writing leads to improved reading achievement and reading leads to better writing performance and linking the two leads to improvement in both areas (Deford 1981, Smith 1994, Tierney & Shanahan 1991)
It is for these reasons that we encourage our students as both readers and writers. Sacrificing writing to focus exclusively on improving reading scores flies in the face of the available research and teacher’s knowledge of the profession.
Despite the available research, a study conducted in 2001 by Burgess, Lundren, LIoyd and Pianta found that most early years teachers devoted appreciably less time to writing. In this instance the teacher’s beliefs about writing appeared to indicate they considered it less important. Reading clearly had a stronger influence on their instruction. Teachers beliefs can sometimes drive instructional practice in opposition to findings of the available research.
Last week I was in Sydney visiting my son and his family. I w…