1. Inside the class, within 45 minitues of writing workshop timeframe, should i give student time to brainstrom and finish writing or
2. Should i tell student that take your work at home think/research about it, finish some part at home and some part at school
3. Schema activation
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Remember that you don't always need to work on writing the same way. Teach this to students. Some pieces will be brought through the entire writing process, and some will remain drafts. In some cases, we will only work on a thesis or an outline, and in other cases we will brainstorm. The writing process becomes more fluid and you can work on different aspects each time.
In our classroom, we always spend a lot of time working on our writing pieces. Sometimes it seems to me that we take too long because while some students use the entire time, some students waste time. The students who waste time are usually the ones who won't do it at home either. Here's the thing though, many students do not have a home environment conducive to working on homework, so I have stopped assigning things for homework.
I agree with the posts that suggest schema. Building the ideas is often the most difficult part for students. In my classroom, my students write in their journals everyday, and we use these to build ideas for discussion and eventually for writing longer pieces. Many students claim that they cannot write in class, and although this may be the case some of the time, there are ways to have them working actively in developing ideas so that writing can come later.
I too would say do as much as possible in a classroom setting where you can break the task into its smaller pieces for the students, model it for the group, and then oversee the progress being made. This process is especially important at the beginning of a writing task where some students truly don't know where to start or even understand what you are asking them to do. Get those individualized questions answered, get them on their way, and you will have something substantial to work with to create a more finished product in the end.
I agree with clairewait that as much as can be done in school as possible, the better.
The best strategy for teaching the recursive process of writing, at any grade level, in my opinion, is to maintain a hanging classroom file and an electronic file (for word processed documents) for each student that contains all of the student's writing, then REVISIT the writing for different purposes.
For example, if a draft is assigned for a John Collins Focused Correction Areas of commas, end punctuation, and apostrophes, there is nothing preventing the teacher from having the student revisit that same paper later on for additional correction areas. Students learn grammar and usage best when they use their own writing as text.
My personal philosophy is now to give time for and do as much in class as possible - even at the high school level. There is far too much opportunity available to cheat, slack off, fake it, or simply do nothing.
I too agree that spending as much time as possible teaching the building blocks of thinking is the most valuable. Unfortunately, middle schools have become too focused on passing multiple choice exams (and getting kids moved on to high school). In NC, 9th grade is the final English state exam, and sophomores and up have no idea how to function outside of the process of elimination. I frequently wish there was more time in middle and elementary school teaching students to think through things themselves and learn to determine and discern things that are important/unimportant and why.
The idea of "think like a teacher" has pretty much been lost with the newfound emphasis of standardized tests. Teachers are even starting to think about things in these terms, which is scary.
I agree with #2 - schema always ensures a greater level of final understanding and gives the students the level of understanding they need to go away and work further on the topic. Sending work home is a very dubious thing to do for the reasons outlined above - I would like to add that in some contexts kids will get their homework done for them by concerned parents. Much better to ensure understanding in class and make sure students know about the topic so that then they can research it further if you wish.
Schema Schema Schema. Always first. Even if it takes two lessons prior to the process. Remember that in the taxonomy create is now the last step, so any work done towards the final product has to be exploration, analysis, and research. However, students find it difficult to research independently about something they have no clue about because they will lack essential questions.
My suggestion is to build schema as a whole group, maybe with a PPT and it will be your chance to introduce them to the rubrics, and to model a research process with essential questions. After that, then you can do a writer's mini workshop of just the theme and beginning statements and how they should be written to obtain the highest score.
I woulnd't trust sending home work because a) some kids do not have the time at home because it is THAT bad where they live b) who knows who ends up doing the research/homework, c) they may waste valuable research time getting confused.
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