Saturday, June 25, 2011

Inviting ALL Students into the Writing Process

I have never been confident in my writing and editing abilities.  While attending the All Write!!! Summer Institute, I had the wonderful opportunity to hear Jeff Anderson speak.  In his keynote presentation, he made me think about my history, as a writer.  Sadly, it has not been a very positive history.  I came from the world of writing that was returned to me, looking as if it had just lost a very bloody battle, with a red pen. Quickly, I became discouraged and unsure in my abilities as a writer.  This is something, I do NOT want any of my students to experience.  I just have never been sure how to make that happen.  As Jeff stated, in his keynote presentation, "a writer in motion, stays in motion."  I just now need to find a positive way to set my students in motion.

After listening to Jeff Anderson speak, I knew that I would be purchasing several of his books.  The first book, of his, that I read was Everyday Editing: Inviting Students to Develop Skill and Craft in Writer's Workshop.  This book is a simple, common sense read.  I have such a better understanding of myself, as a writer.  I am beyond excited to get back into the classroom, in August, and start using these techniques with my students.  Everyday Editing is about inviting students into the writing process.  Students should be editing their own work, my red pen should not be doing all of the work.  

Throughout the process, of this book, Jeff Anderson discusses how to teach serial commas, colons, capitalization, apostrophes, simple sentences, appositives, paragraphs, compound sentences, and dialogue.  I don't know about you, but my students seem to struggle with all of these concepts!  The students are able to identify the errors when completing the redundant Daily Language Reviews, but in their own writing, they will continually make errors.  Jeff Anderson does a great job explaining how to get students to own and understand all of these writing conventions.

For students to understand writing, they need to own the process. Forcing students to make corrections, that  they don't understand, is not going to help them own the process.  Teachers should be inviting students into the writing process.  Jeff talk about several steps to use, when inviting students into this process.  Teachers can use all of the steps or just a combination of steps, depending on the needs and processing of the students.  

These are just a few of the invitations that I think my students will greatly benefit from.  Invite students to notice by using real examples, from forms of literature the students are reading or have read.  Don't use examples where students have to find errors, but where students tell you what they notice correct.   Invite students to imitate the examples that they have just noticed, by repeating the pattern in the examples.  The final invitation, that I wish would have been done while I was learning to write, is to invite students to celebrate by sharing examples in their own writing or books that they are reading.  Again, these are just a few of the invitations described by Jeff Anderson.

I highly recommend that every special education and language arts teacher reads this book, to learn how to invite students into the writing process.  Students need to own the process, and I truly think inviting them into the process will put them on the path to owning their writing and becoming confident, life-long writers. 

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