News about WriterKey

To the WriterKEY community, On April 6th, 2016, the CEO of Bedford, Freeman and Worth, Ken Michaels, announced the acquisition of WriterKEY. The press release of that announcement can be found here. We want to supplement that announcement with some more information about where we have been and where we are going as part of the Bedford, Freeman and Worth family. When we initially launched WriterKEY, we committed ourselves to build applications that were responsive to the realities teachers face while supporting the best practices Continue reading →

Knowing the Criteria

“Teachers struggle to grade effectively or fairly when they don’t identify and give students a criterion for success.“ -Rick Stiggins I am just back from North Carolina and NCTIES. I met many teachers who reinforced the message that their schools are focused on reading and math with a waning focus on writing. The lack of emphasis contributes to a culture where writing assignments are no more than summative assessments with minimal revision opportunities. But then you meet with committed teachers and you hear that they remain focused Continue reading →

In A Room with 800 English Teachers

Last week at CATE’s Annual Conference (CA Association of Teachers of English), I listened carefully to Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey present their current ideas about the teaching of reading. I include the adjective “current” because they explicitly described how their thinking and teaching has evolved over the years. I find it refreshing when practitioners show you how they have changed and why. We learn – we adapt. Implicitly they were modeling behavior they were describing when they talk about re-reading. Fisher and Frey advocated Continue reading →

Which Draft is Better? Next Steps…..

Kelly Gallagher in his book, Write Like This, provides a range of ideas of how teach real world writing through modeling and mentor texts. But I thought the gem of his focus on modeling is found in his latest book, In the Best Interest of Students. Beginning on Page 137, Mr. Gallagher narrows his focus to “Modeling in the Revision Stage.” This section outlines the strategy of “Which One is Better, Draft A or Draft B?” He offers examples through page 144 of how he Continue reading →

What to try when students are reluctant to revise their writing?

Effective writing teachers know that students learn the most during the revision phase. When students revise writing, they evaluate the effectiveness of the writing, make distinctions about what can be improved and what needs to be deleted, and – hopefully – reflect back on changes for coherence and meta-cognitively understand the writing revision moves they made. Master writing teachers design writing experiences for students that focus on the power of revision. Some students express difficulty with revision because they believe they put in their best Continue reading →

Getting from Reading to Writing Instruction

Effective teachers explicitly connect the teaching of reading and writing. When we analyze texts (both non-fiction and fiction), we have the opportunity to explore the author’s craft even in the most basic textbooks. When we provide complementary texts about the same subject matter that have dramatic differences in the style of the writing, we have an ideal opportunity to discuss voice, audience, and tone. When students write they should have the opportunity to make conscious decisions about the purpose of their writing and manipulate language Continue reading →

Free Download of Hattie Resource

Our friends at Routledge Publishing are making a new John Hattie resource available for free. While it is not the full text of his works,  Know Thy Impact: Visible Learning in Theory and Practice, is an excellent introduction to his research and the practical application of it in schools. Why not take them up on their offer? Click here to find out more about the book. Click here for the direct link for the download registration

Writing Groups and Peer Review

Authentic peer review gives students opportunities to share their writing with their peers. Peers get a chance to read and respond to each other from audience and writer’s perspectives. The feedback helps writers understand the impact of their writing and student readers (peers) to better understand the tools of writing from a different perspective. Writing groups are a form of peer review, but the approaches and goals are different and should be distinguished for students. Writing groups are used early in the writing process as Continue reading →

Should Formative Assessments be Graded?

In this week’s Education Week, 4 experts were asked if formative assessments should be graded.  You can find the article here if you are a subscriber. What can be added without picking a side? I think the conversation should start with the culture of the classroom. The master writing teachers I know disagree on this topic as well for more reasons than these four have space and time to get into. My colleagues know that the culture around grades can be destructive, but that doesn’t mean Continue reading →

Writing With Doubt

Many students struggle getting started on persuasive writing assignments because they feel they have to have a defined, provable point mapped out before they begin typing their first word. This mental block points to one of the most important reasons for teaching writing: writing is a vehicle for thinking and learning. One master writing teacher who advises us uses analogous writing assignments to help students move past writer’s block. In this sample, she describes her approach to one of her favorite topics when analyzing Macbeth. Continue reading →