When I read Response: Celebrating our Students' Good Writing today, I was excited about the ideas tossed around by Mary Tedrow, one of my favorite writing teacher gurus. Her WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW idea struck me as a YES WE CAN WRITE opportunity for my kids, as well as other struggling students.
Now to pitch it to their 'regular teachers' in a package they will buy.
The idea is painfully simple:
- Lecture for a short time (Tedrow suggests 5-9 minutes. I would go with the number of minutes per grade level - 7 minutes for 7th graders, 8 for 8th, etc..Research shows that is a fair indication of how long students should be able to sustain attention without needing a transition.)
- Now, students write what they just learned. (WOW! Instead of trying to write while someone is talking, you LISTEN?? What a powerful thought!)
- After allowing time to write the new information, students share with partner. (I would love to see my kids partnered with strong students who would have great note-taking skills to share.)
- Then, come together as a whole group to clear up misconceptions, and have one more reinforcement of ideas.
Would it work? I can see some potential drawbacks:
- Some students may not be able to remember what they heard, so they will be contributing little to their partner in the pair/share time. (hmmm.... I guess it will be a learning process, and hopefully, as time goes by, and the process becomes more automatic for them, they will be able to contribute at least something. Perhaps with an adult guiding the individual sharing time, allowing the struggling student to share first?)
- Some students may think - well, I will just get the info from my partner and write it then. (To this, I would suggest close teacher monitoring during writing time could help this.)
This activity serves a dual purpose. 1.Writing, writing, writing - writing what you know.. 2. Intentional teaching of note-taking strategies.