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Writing… Why I Should Care! (Tips and Content Area Strategies). Nebraska City October 19, 2012. “Things to Think About”. Why should I use valuable classroom time for writing activities? What are some unintended consequences if I don’t use classroom time for writing?

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writing why i should care tips and content area strategies

Writing… Why I Should Care!(Tips and Content Area Strategies)

Nebraska City

October 19, 2012

things to think about
“Things to Think About”
  • Why should I use valuable classroom time for writing activities?
  • What are some unintended consequences if I don’t use classroom time for writing?
  • What are some concerns I have in using classroom time for writing?
teaching writing is like flying a plane while building it because
Teaching writing is like flying a plane while building it because…

Quick Write #1

  • Think/Write… complete the prompt.
  • Pair… find someone from across the room with whom you can share your statement
  • Share… 60 seconds per contributor.
writing to learn
Writing to Learn…

Writing facilitates learning by helping students to explore, clarify, and think deeply about the ideas and concepts they encounter in


writing is thinking
Writing is Thinking
  • 1970s research (Janet Emig)… writing is a mode of thinking
  • Multi-sensory nature of writing
  • Writing is an act of composing
  • Writing is a process of exploration and clarification
  • Can use writing to have students think about what they will read or learn
  • Can use writing to have students demonstrate their knowledge of what they have read or learned
reeves research
Reeves Research

A synopsis of what Mitzi said…

Writing in the content area increases test scores in content areas.

And we also know this…

writing is a 21st Century Skill.

writing to learn1
Writing to Learn




writing to learn2
Writing to Learn
  • Writing to Learn
    • Short
    • Spontaneous
    • Exploratory
    • Informal
    • Personal
    • One draft
    • Unedited
    • Ungraded
  • Public Writing
    • Substantial
    • Planned
    • Authoritative
    • Conventional
    • Audience centered
    • Drafted
    • Edited
    • Assessable
our task as content teachers
Our task as content teachers-

How can we use writing to support elements of our teaching to support the curriculum?

focus on
  • Ideas/content
  • Organization
pre learning phase
Pre-Learning Phase
  • Writing to get ready to learn…
    • Informal writing
    • Looks like:
      • Free writes, admit slips, brainstorming, quick writes
    • Assess with a + or –
    • Use the rubric (just one component) to assess
during learning phase
During Learning Phase
  • Writing to Learn
    • Informal writing
    • Looks like:
      • Journals, logs, double-entry journals, quick writes, short answer, 1 sentence, etc.
    • Assessed with point system (1-4, using rubric)
examples of during learning writing
Examples of “During Learning” Writing

In Algebra 1, students work individually or in 2s in class to design a word problem to submit for a ‘class generated’ homework assignment to be given out the next night as a review for an upcoming test. The teacher conducts 30-second conferences with each student/group by stopping by and allowing each student/group to ask one focused question about the evolving word problem.

example 2
Example #2

In Small Engines/Automotive class, students respond to the following cause-effect prompt: (1) Create a how-to manual for teen drivers who want to know how they can make sure the engine of their car maintains peak performance. Students are told their language must be clear and concise in order to be effective, so (2) they go on a ‘lazy word’ hunt. Each time they find a vague or overused word, they replace it with a more precise word.

example 3
Example #3

In American History, students are given a newspaper article about a Civil War battle that contains too many details. The students are instructed to work in pairs to identify which details are necessary to describe the event, and which details muddle the article and are not descriptive. The teams rewrite the article using only the necessary details and/or combining details for clarity.

journals logs
  • Allows students to increase fluency, use note taking and documentation skills and develop vocabulary and writing skills.
  • Less formal so less structured.
  • Invites response, reflections, questioning and reaction to materials or questions posed during discussion.
double entry journal
Double Entry Journal
  • Allows students to connect to text during reading.
  • Uses note-taking and documentation skills to record information from the text.
  • Right-hand side… students think about content they noted in the journal and write their reaction to the text.
post learning phase
Post Learning Phase
  • Writing to demonstrate what has been learned
    • Formal
    • Looks like:
      • Essays, research papers, content-specific writing, 3 paragraph position papers, RAFT, biographical poem, agree/disagree, etc.
      • Assessed with points using the rubrics
raft role audience format topic
  • Guide students as they analyze the important ideas, concepts or information from the reading assignment. (topic)
  • Brainstorm (with the class) possible roles class members could assume in their writing. (role)
  • Have students decide who the audience will be for this writing. (audience)
  • Determine what format the writing will take. (format)
  • With the students’ first experience with this strategy, assign all the students the same role. In subsequent assignments, encourage the students to brainstorm their own role, audience and format.
other ideas for raft
Other ideas for RAFT
  • Outline plans for half-day workshop
  • Create a city-wide program and write an action plan for…
  • Design a brochure
  • Develop a proposal
  • Design a flyer with a mail back portion
  • Write a corporate philosophy
  • Write an employee handbook section with guidelines on…
  • Write a letter of recommendation
  • Design and conduct a survey
give one get one
Give One – Get One

Quick Write #3

  • Write down your favorite writing tasks/assignments.
  • Identify whether it’s “Pre Learning”, “During Learning” or “Post Learning” Phases
  • Find a partner… give one of your ideas; get one of theirs
  • Repeat… get three different ideas from 3 different people
new requirements that impact all teachers
New Requirements that impact ALL teachers…
  • The IEP must include a statement indicating how the information on the IEP is being shared with and accessible to all teachers involved with that student.
  • “IEP at a Glance”… can include
    • Disability
    • Strengths
    • Academic concerns
    • Goals/objectives
    • Accommodations for each individual student*
non negotiables
  • All teachers should be able to participate in the IEP process knowledgeably.
  • All teachers will make accommodations and modifications as identified on the IEP
  • All teachers will know their students’ disabilities and how it will impact their students’ performance in their classroom.
the iep foundations
The IEP: Foundations
  • The IEP is a process and a product that documents that the child is receiving a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) consistent with all state and federal requirements.
  • The IEP reflects the child and family’s vision for the future.
  • To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are educated with children who do not have (identified) disabilities.
  • Development of the IEP is a collaborative process.
  • The IEP team develops a child’s IEP with high expectations based on the child’s capabilities, strengths, needs and interests, including involvement and progress in the general education curriculum.
  • The IEP process involved on-going progress monitoring and decision making. Decision-making is solution-focused, based on the child’s needs, and used to improve results for the child.
the iep team
The IEP Team
  • Parents
  • Child/Student with disabilities
  • Special education teacher(s)/provider(s)
    • i.e. Speech, PT, OT, etc.
  • General Education Teacher
  • District Rep
  • A person who can interpret the instructional implications of the most recent evaluation
  • Other persons invited at the discretion of district or parents
  • Other agency reps for Transition Planning
    • i.e. Vocational Rehabilitation, Developmental Disabilities, Region V
rules for participation by the general ed teacher
“Rules” for participation by the General Ed Teacher
  • Not less than one general education teacher or provider is required to participate…
  • Gen Ed teacher should be knowledgeable about curriculum, appropriate activities of typically developing peers and how the student’s disability will impact their involvement and progress in class.
  • If the student’s disability will affect a child’s performance in the classroom, that general education teacher should be invited and expected to participate in the IEP meeting.
the role of the general ed teacher
The Role of the General Ed Teacher
  • Assist in the determination of appropriate positive behavior interventions and supports
  • Assist in the determination of appropriate supplementary aids and services, accommodations and/or modifications, and support for school personnel.
  • Participate in implementing the IEP together with special education and related services personnel.
role of the special education teacher
Role of the Special Education Teacher
  • Works with the parent to determine a ‘mutually agreed upon’ time and place for the IEP meeting (prior to the anniversary date)
  • Facilitates the development of the IEP
  • Completes and finalizes the IEP document shortly after the meeting has been held
  • Collaborates with general education teachers by making sure that teachers have access to or a copy of the IEP
  • Collaborates with general education teachers in the provision of appropriate accommodations
research accommodations
Research & Accommodations
  • Accommodations INCREASE the validity of the test scores; it improves the meaning and accuracy.
  • Students who were previously excluded are included with accommodations.
  • Should also be appropriate for daily instruction.
  • Analogies:
    • Eyeglasses
    • Wheelchair ramp to a building
what the research says
What the Research Says
  • Accommodations have no positive or negative effect for students without disabilities.
  • Most common assessment accommodations:
    • Presentation format
    • Response or recording format
    • Timing or scheduling of the test
    • Testing environment or setting
do s in accommodations
Do’s in Accommodations
  • DO base the decision on the individual needs of the student.
  • DO consult with the published or district list of possible and allowable accommodations
don ts in accommodations
Don’ts in Accommodations
  • DON’T introduce an accommodation for the first time during an assessment.
  • DON’T base the decision about accommodations on the student’s disability category.
  • DON’T start from a published/district list when considering what accommodations a student needs.

Accommodations: Provisions made in how a student accesses or demonstrates learning

Do not substantially change instructional level or content

Provides student an equal access to learning

Provides student equal opportunity to demonstrate what is known

Based on individual strengths and needs

May vary in intensity and degree


Accommodations should:

Work for those students who need them.

Be neutral for those students who do not need them.

Purpose is to “level the playing field,” not to provide an advantage.


Factors affecting

student performance on tests...

(Not just for students with disabilities!)

Timed tests…


Clarity of directions…

Reading ability…

“Noise” on each page…


Accommodations for Assignments AND Assessment

  • Timing
    • Extended time
    • Frequent breaks
    • Administered at the time of day most beneficial to student


  • Presentation of Directions/
  • Instructions
    • Large print
    • Braille version
    • Signing of writing prompts
    • Translate orally
    • Visual magnification devices
    • Auditory amplification devices, noise buffers
    • Re-reading of directions; highlighting key words for clarification


  • Student Response
    • Respond in Braille
    • Increased spacing, wider lines, margins
    • Dictate response to a scribe
    • Tape-record response to be transcribed for scoring
    • Use of assistive technology…
    • What is in the IEP? What does the student routinely use? Those should be included in allowable accommodations on Assessment.
role of iep team in determining accommodations
Role of IEP team in determining Accommodations
  • Not every accommodation is appropriate for every student or every test.
  • Match the accommodation to the testing format and to the individual student needs.
  • Use only if accommodations are used during daily instruction
  • Avoid the use of unneeded accommodations that might hinder the performance of a student by singling them out or making them ‘look different.’
accommodations for nesa r nesa m nesa s nesa w
Accommodations for NeSA-R, NeSA-M, NeSA-S, NeSA-W
  • Test Administration Practices
  • Content Presentation
  • Response
  • Timing/Scheduling/Setting

*See approved NeSA Accommodations document;

most recently updated November 2011.

accommodations for nrts
Accommodations for NRTs
  • Presentation
  • Time
  • Setting
  • Response
  • Assistive Technology
  • **Always refer to information provided by the publisher on allowable accommodations.