Monday, 30 October 2017

Revising structure and proof reading in context...

As teachers we always strive to set our students up for success by giving them the tools to make sense of the learning. Along the way some of these tools get used over and over again, while others are left unused and the knowledge of how to use them gets lost along the way. 

Writing is one area where this happens a lot. Once we master how to use a language feature, a punctuation mark or more sophisticated vocabulary, we use it over and over again to cement it's purpose in our own knowledge ketes. However, for many of our students the contents of their 'proof reading kete' are often sparse. I think that in many cases these students try so hard to get their ideas on paper, or on the screen, that they overlook the fact that what they have written often does not make sense to others. If you have used up all your creative energy completing the task, then there just isn't enough fuel in the tank to go back and check it. So what did I do about this? I adapted and repurposed a few of the ideas I had learned at the Jeff Anderson PD I went to earlier in the year. 

My learners had responded really well to the power writing and the 5-7-10 writing I introduced last term. With this in mind I got creative with today's task and introduced our 
10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 timed writing challenge. The thinking behind this was that by breaking down the task into bite sized chunks it would add a 'fun' element to skills I needed my students to practise using. 

I have learned from my Reading inquiry this year that if I actively plan for front-loading opportunities, stronger connections are made to the learning. This is why I allowed for a total of 19 minutes of talking and planning. I tapped into aspects of the paired writing program so that each pair had a more able person who was able to guide, question and prompt. We agreed at the beginning of the lesson that this was to be a collaborative piece of writing, so must have input from both people to be done correctly. Initially the more able students took control so I intervened and included a role swap each time a new timed challenge began. This worked really well as it gave both parties an opportunity to record, read, notice, change and re-read along the way.

8-7-6-5 and 4 provided an opportunity for the structure and writing of an explanation to be practised, while 3-2 and 1 opened up the doors for proof reading to be revisited. This was derived from our LS2 adapted DRAFT process. The later part was where we got the most mileage today. It was empowering for me as a teacher to be able to hear the negotiating taking place as each pair took the time to look closely at their writing.

Once this was done I paired up the pairs and revisited the 3-2-1 again to allow our new audience to see if our learning intention of writing and DRAFTing an explanation that makes sense to the reader, had been met. I always find it interesting how tough my learners are on each other when they are giving feedback. They notice the small details in other's writing that are often overlooked in their own. Unfortunately at this time the bell rang so I wasn't able to capitalise on the immediate responses to the suggestions made. We did do this later in the day, but I think it would have been a more powerful learning opportunity if it was done straight away. 

Looking at the finished writing I can say this was most definitely a successful and 'fun' way to revisit learning. 

NOTE: I repurposed an activity I found here by adding the language of our classroom to the word bank. Each pair was given a word bank (that could most definitely be added to) and a blank framework (with no images or written prompts). I modelled how to use the word bank to craft paragraphs then let the talk flow. The reason I provided the content was that the learning was about structure and proof reading, and not on the ideas.

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