Writing Interventions That Really Work Jim Wrightwww.interventioncentral.org
Workshop Agenda In today’s workshop, we will: • Analyze the subskills that make up ‘writing ability’ • Identify barriers that can prevent students from being effective writers • Review effective writing interventions
Writing Sample [If lost on an island] I woud drink water from the ocean and I woud eat the fruit off of the trees. Then I woud bilit a house out of trees, and I woud gather firewood to stay warm. I woud try and fix my boat in my spare time.
Writing Sample Existing is being unique. Existence, reality, essence, cause, or truth is uniqueness. The geometric point in the center of the sphere is nature’s symbol of the immeasurable uniqueness within its measurable effect. A center is always unique; otherwise it would not be a center. Because uniqueness is reality, or that which makes a thing what it is, everything that is real is based on a centralization. Source:Sandy LaFave, West Valley College, Saratoga, CAhttp://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/writsamp0.htm
Elbow Group Activity: When was your ‘writing breakthrough’ point? • In your group, discuss when each member felt that they reached the ‘breakthrough’ point when they felt they were competent writers. • Be prepared to share your discussion with the larger group.
The Act of Creating a Piece of Writing Is… • Not a single unitary skill but instead is a… • Spectrum of interrelated skills and… • A process of plan, write, revise
‘Style’ Content Punctuation Spelling Syntax Grammar Written Expression: A Spectrum of Skills
Students must learn that writing is a process not a product. The Horse in Motion Eadweard Muybridge, 1904
Barriers to Writing The physical act of writing…
Middle Bronze Age Alphabets Egyptian Hieroglyphs: Hieratic Script Early & Later Greek Alphabets Proto-Canaanite Alphabet Phoenician Alphabet Origins of the Latin Alphabet Latin (Western) Alphabet
Origins of the Latin Alphabet:Phoenician Alphabet Source:Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenician_alphabet
Origins of the Latin Alphabet:Early Greek Alphabet Boustrophedon: ‘ox trail’: Script alternates between left-to-right and right-to-left Source:http://www.translexis.demon.co.uk/new_page_2.htm
Barriers to Writing Spelling…
GHOTI George Bernard Shaw’s Spelling of ‘FISH’… • ‘F’ as in ‘ENOUGH’ • ‘I’ as in 'WOMEN • ‘SH’ as in ‘NATION’
‘Simplified’ Spelling behaviour behavior defence defense enough enuf receive reseev incandescent inkandesent
Barriers to Writing Grammar…
"If all the grammarians in the world were placed end to end, it would be a good thing." • Oscar Wilde
Grammar: A Definition “Grammar is the study of rules governing the use of language. The set of rules governing a particular language is the grammar of that language; thus, each language can be said to have its own distinct grammar.” Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/
Grammar’s Dueling Perspectives: Who Defines Good and ‘Bad’ Grammatical Usage? • Descriptivists: Collect neutral ‘field study’ information of ‘the patterns through which meanings are typically created in functional speech and writing’ • Prescriptivists: Set grammatical rules for how language ought to be used Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/
The Complexities of English Grammar: A Sampling Tense: Future tenses (from Wikipedia): • Simple future: "I shall/will listen." This is used to express that an event will occur in the future, or that the speaker intends to perform some action. • Future continuous: "I shall/will be listening." This is used to express an ongoing event that has not yet been initiated. • Future perfect: "I shall/will have listened." This indicates an action which will occur before some other action in the future: Normally two actions are expressed, and the future perfect indicates an action which will occur in the future but will, at the time of the main future action expressed, be in the past (e.g. "I will know the tune next week because I will have listened to it"). • Future perfect continuous: "I shall/will have been listening." Expresses an ongoing action that occurs in the future, before some other event expressed in the future. Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/
The Complexities of English Grammar: A Sampling Tense: Verb Moods (from Wikipedia): • Indicative, or declarative, mood:the simplest and most basic mood. (Examples: I am walking home. We are very happy.) • Subjunctive mood: used to express counterfactual (or conditional) statements, and is often found in if-then statements, and certain formulaic expressions NOTE: Casual spoken English rarely uses the subjunctive, and generally restricts the conditional mood to the simple present and simple past. (Example: If I were you, I would bet on the lottery) • Imperative mood: used for commands or instructions. (Examples: Let me do the talking, Put the package down on the table.) Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/
Synergistic Relationship Between Reading & Writing • Spelling • Vocabulary • Grammar • Syntax • Style • Genre Reading Writing
Writing Samples: Student Analogies • Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a ThighMaster. • She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef. • She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up. • Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever. • The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t. Source:Funny analogies http://writingenglish.wordpress.com/2006/09/12/the-25-funniest-analogies-collected-by-high-school-english-teachers/
Writing Samples: Student Analogies (Cont.) • Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze. • He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River. • Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do. • The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work. • He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something. Source:Funny analogies http://writingenglish.wordpress.com/2006/09/12/the-25-funniest-analogies-collected-by-high-school-english-teachers/
Physical Production of Writing ___Y ___N Writing Speed. Writes words on the page at a rate equal or nearly equal to that of classmates • Teach keyboarding skills • Allow student to dictate ideas into a tape-recorder and have a volunteer (e.g., classmate, parent, school personnel) transcribe them. ___Y ___N Handwriting. Handwriting is legible to most readers • Provide training in handwriting • Teach keyboarding skills.
Mechanics & Conventions of Writing ___Y ___N Grammar & Syntax. Knowledge of grammar (rules governing use of language) and syntax (grammatical arrangement of words in sentences) is appropriate for age and/or grade placement • Teach rules of grammar, syntax • Have students compile individualized checklists of their own common grammar/syntax mistakes; direct students to use the checklist to review work for errors before turning in. ___Y ___N Spelling. Spelling skills are appropriate for age and/or grade placement • Have student collect list of own common misspellings; assign words from list to study; quiz student on list items. • Have student type assignments and use spell-check.
"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." • Mark Twain
Writing Content ___Y ___N Vocabulary. Vocabulary in written work is age/grade appropriate • Compile list of key vocabulary and related definitions for subject area; assign words from list to study; quiz student on definitions of list items • Introduce new vocabulary items regularly to class; set up cooperative learning activities for students to review vocabulary. ___Y ___N Word Choice. Distinguishes word-choices that are appropriate for informal (colloquial, slang) discourse vs. formal written discourse • Present examples to the class of formal vs. informal word choices • Have students check work for appropriate word choice as part of writing revision process.
"Your manuscript is both good and original. But the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good." • Samuel Johnson
Writing Content (Cont.) ___Y ___N Audience. Identifies targeted audience for writing assignments and alters written content to match needs of projected audience • Direct students to write a ‘targeted audience profile’ as a formal (early) step in the writing process; have students evaluate the final writing product to needs of targeted audience during the revision process. ___Y ___N Plagiarism. Identifies when to credit authors for use of excerpts quoted verbatim or unique ideas taken from other written works • Define plagiarism for students. Use plentiful examples to show students acceptable vs. unacceptable incorporation of others’ words or ideas into written compositions.
"Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs." • Henry Ford
Writing Preparation __Y __N Topic Selection. Independently selects appropriate topics for writing assignments • Have student generate list of general topics that that interest him or her; sit with the student to brainstorm ideas for writing topics that relate to the student’s own areas of interest. __Y __N Writing Plan. Creates writing plan by breaking larger writing assignments into sub-tasks (e.g., select topic, collect source documents, take notes from source documents, write outline, etc.) • Create generic pre-formatted work plans for writing assignments that break specific types of larger assignments (e.g., research paper) into constituent parts. Have students use these plan outlines as a starting point to making up their own detailed writing plans.
Writing Preparation (Cont.) __Y __N Note-Taking. Researches topics by writing notes that capture key ideas from source material • Teach note-taking skills; have students review note-cards with the teacher as quality check.
"When I sit at my table to write, I never know what it’s going to be until I'm under way. I trust in inspiration, which sometimes comes and sometimes doesn't. But I don't sit back waiting for it. I work every day." • Alberto Moravia
Writing Production & Revision __Y __N Adequate ‘Seat Time’. Allocates realistic amount of time to the act of writing to ensure a quality final product • Use teacher’s experience and information from proficient student writers to develop and share estimates of minimum writing ‘seat time’ needed to produce quality products for ‘typical’ writing assignments • Have students keep a writing diary to record amount of time spent in act of writing for each assignment. (Additional idea: Consider asking parents to monitor and record their child’s writing time.) __Y __N Oral vs. Written Work. Student’s dictated and written passages are equivalent in complexity and quality • Allow student to dictate ideas into a tape-recorder and have a volunteer (e.g., classmate, parent, school personnel) transcribe them • Permit the student to use speech-to-text software (e.g., Dragon Naturally Speaking) to dictate first drafts of writing assignments.
Writing Production & Revision __Y __N Revision Process. Revises initial written draft before turning in for a grade or evaluation • Create a rubric containing the elements of writing that students should review during the revision process; teach this rubric to the class; link a portion of the grade on writing assignments to students’ use of the revision rubric. __Y __N Timely Submission. Turns in written assignments (class work, homework) on time • Provide student incentives for turning work in on time. • Work with parents to develop home-based plans for work completion and submission. • Institute school-home communication to let parents know immediately when important assignments are late or missing.
Elbow Group Activity: What are the major writing concerns in your school? • Look over the Writing Skills Checklist • As a group, select the TOP TWO areas that teachers in your school are most concerned about. • Brainstorm possible intervention ideas to address these concerns. • Appoint a spokesperson to share your group’s selections.
Create a CBM writing probe: a lined sheet with the story starter at the top CBM Writing Assessment: Preparation • Select a story starter
CBM Writing Assessment: Preparation Story Starter Tips: • Create or collect story starters that students will find motivating to write about. • Avoid story starters that allow students simply to generate long lists: e.g., “What I want for my birthday is…”
CBM Writing: Student Directions I want you to write a story. I am going to read a sentence to you first, and then I want you to write a short story about what happens. You will have 1 minute to think about the story you will write and then have 3 minutes to write it. Do your best work. If you don't know how to spell a word, you should guess. Are there any questions? For the next minute, think about . . . [insert story-starter]. The examiner starts the stopwatch. At the end of 1 minute, the examiner says, Start writing.
CBM Writing Assessment: Scoring Total Words: I woud drink water from the ocean and I woud eat the fruit off of the trees. Then I woud bilit a house out of trees, and I woud gather firewood to stay warm. I woud try and fix my boat in my spare time. Total Words = 45
CBM Writing Assessment: Scoring Total Words: Useful for tracking a student’s fluency in writing (irrespective of spelling, punctuation, etc.)
CBM Writing Assessment: Scoring Correctly Spelled Words: I woud drink water from the ocean and I woud eat the fruit off of the trees. Then I woud bilit a house out of trees, and I woud gather firewood to stay warm. I woud try and fix my boat in my spare time. Correctly Spelled Words = 39