|Is It Time To Go Back To The Basics With Writing Instruction?|
the average high school teacher, spending a semester on sentence-level
exercises that are heavily scaffolded seems easy and boring. But Nell
Scharff Panero said that when teachers try taking instruction back to
basics using what she calls "progressive mastery," they see big
improvements in the quality of both thinking and writing. She finds that
students can meet high school expectations when teachers slow down to
show them how to write well.|
Dan Scanlon, principal of John Adams High School in New York, said it was difficult for his staff to acknowledge that pointing fingers at students wasn't going to improve performance. Instead, the staff had to accept the reality of where their students were at and try something new and different for most of the high school teachers. Because John Adams has been a low-achieving school for a long time and has been designated a Renewal School, teachers ultimately had no choice. The whole staff got trained in the writing strategies, called Writing is Thinking through Strategic Inquiry (WITsi), and learned how to apply them to their content areas.
"We have better teacher practice because of their implementation of WIT and that has improved performance on Regents exams," said Joanna Cohen, a vice-principal at John Adams. School administrators chose to implement writing across the curriculum because they began to see that many of the gaps in writing knowledge also pointed to fundamental abilities to express relationships. Using "so" correctly in a sentence, for example, indicates causality, an idea that's just as important in math and science as it is in more writing-intensive disciplines like social studies and English.
NOTE: Learn more at:How Progressive Mastery Works