Writing flourishes – Times Gazette
This school year, students at Greenfield Middle School are learning a foundational skill in a new way, and it’s paying off.
Through the University of Miami’s Ohio Writing Project (OWP), English teachers are learning better ways to guide students not just to be better writers, but to be confident writers. and able.
Throughout the year, college English teachers met with OWP instructors who provide and demonstrate engaging writing strategies and lessons. It is something not only to help students learn writing in a new way, but also to help teachers in their teaching.
According to college principal Jason Potts, the emphasis on writing wasn’t really there before the project, as everything related to English Language Arts (ELA) was combined into one block of time. This year, this block has split up so that there is time dedicated solely to writing.
“Good writers are good readers, but it doesn’t always work the other way around,” Potts said.
Because this block used to be for all things ELA, Potts said he knew teachers would need extra support if there was to be any real success in teaching handwriting in particular. This is where OWP came in. He said he took OWP training a few years ago and it was “the best outside training” he had ever attended. So he immediately knew who was going to be the support of the teachers.
“OWP is designed not just for kids to write, but to enjoy,” he said. “Students write more than teachers can read, and that’s okay. Teachers can then use selected pieces of writing to develop students into stronger writers.
While Potts noted that teachers were hesitant at first, they have since “grabbed” the ideas offered by OWP and are seeing student writing flourish.
Anna Black teacher said the OWP encourages write frequency for long periods and encourages strategies to engage students in the world around them. For this reason, many students use cognitive thinking observation, like writing about things they notice and things they are asking questions. According to Black, it’s a strategy that encourages students to slow down, take a closer look, and communicate freely.
She said there are set time periods for what are called quick writes, as well as strategies that apply to an extended writing project. With speed writes, students engage in a brief timed writing opportunity in their notebooks. It can last anywhere from two to 10 minutes, Black said, and it integrates writing with critical thinking.
Amanda Collier, a teacher ELA seventh grade, said that these notebooks were also used to place students generate ideas for creative writing and also fast writing. Students also use their books to “extract” of future ideas, which is facilitated by the table of contents for each student creates his notebook.
She said that in the books, there were no worries grammar, spelling or organization. It is written, and they discuss grammar qu’OWP other ways managed to make exciting and engaging for students, she said. So instead that students go through a spreadsheet to correct grammatical errors, they spend a few days exploring now grammar in a new way.
On the first day, Collier said, students are given a model sentence from a published work and the students share what they notice about the sentence and make a class list with all those things. The next day, a similar sentence is introduced and the two sentences are compared to see if students can identify the grammatical topic they will be working with. On days three and four, students imitate the phrases and apply the knowledge to other engaging activities. The fifth day is spent discussing the sentences to determine if they need to be changed or revised. Collier said this was especially important when talking about sentence fragments.
As the students learned to recognize the fragments, they also discussed examples where the authors had intentionally chosen to use them.
Collier told an exercise that students have found very amusing when they took the dependent clauses and were used to build passive-aggressive letters. An example of this, was she said, was: “Dear Gum Chewer, As you may know, people really hate it when you put your chewing gum under the table. Sincerely, Ruined Soccer Shorts.
“The courses are about treating them like writers,” Collier said, and giving students the tools and choices to engage in the writing process.
Potts said the plan is to continue with OWP next school year and stay on track for a more targeted teaching writing and allow students to become better writers.
“Writing is the key to improvement in all other subjects,” Potts said. “We still have a hill to climb when it comes to writing, but it’s better than the mountain it was before we started using OWP.”
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the Greenfield Exempted Village School District.
Greenfield eighth graders Logan Warner and Jacob Mick are pictured having discussions in their writing pad.
Greenfield Middle School sixth graders are shown during a writing exercise. This is part of writing-focused efforts and creating better writers.