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Making a Difference:
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February 4 - 6, 2015 | Hershey Lodge and Convention Center

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17. Short Writing OFTEN, Not Just Long Writing Seldom

02/05/15, Hershey, PA
>> I'm Diane Funsten, I'm an educational consultant at the PaTTAN office in King of Prussia, and I would like to welcome you to this session. It is my great honor to be able to introduce our
presenter, Anita Archer. Dr. Archer serves as an educational consultant to school districts on effective instruction, classroom management, reading and writing instruction, and design of effective
literacy programs. She has taught elementary and middle school students, and is the recipient of nine Outstanding Educator awards, including the 2006 Leadership Award from the University Of Oregon
College Of Education. Dr. Archer has been a faculty member at San Diego State University, the University of Washington and the University of Oregon. She is nationally known for her presentations and
publications on instructional procedures and design. She co-authored Skills for School Success, a study skills program for elementary and middle school students, Advanced Skills for School Success,
Rewards; A Program to Teach Students Advanced Decoding and Fluency Skills, and Rewards Plus with Dr. Mary Gleason. She also co-authored the Phonics for Reading Program, and has authored many other
curriculum materials, chapters, books and training materials. Please join me in welcoming Anita Archer!
>> Thank you! And thank you so much for being here! One of my favorite conferences, favorite states, and it is beautiful here! The snow is gorgeous! Ah, maybe it's only gorgeous for people who live in
the Pacific Northwest, where it rains and it doesn't snow. But it is absolutely wonderful!
So, here we are today, in this session, which goes right up until our lunchtime, and it doesn't include a break. So, if you need to take a break, take a break. And it's on the area of writing, and
raise your hand if in your district, and other students you serve, you have any children for whom writing is not their highest area of expertise, 'eh? And so, in fact, when we look at our students,
whether they're general ed students or Special Ed students, consistently, their lowest area of performance is the area of writing. And it's not surprising, if we just stand back and think about the
complexity of it. In order to write, you have to read. In order to write, you have to have handwriting, or fluent typing. In order to write, you have to have spelling. In order to write, you have to
understand grammar. In order to write, you have to have words. And, in order to write, you have to have, like, whoo, an idea! And... So, all of those things are very demanding. And, as we all know,
the Common Core is orchestrated so that there are three major types of writing that students are to learn, that they are to learn how to write a - Narrative, which is not emphasized, a Argument,
which is emphasized, and Informational Text, which is also emphasized. And all of these standards look at having kids write an essay, a letter to the editor, long products. But our work in schools is
finding that we actually could make more progress in writing by having the kids write often, not just long, seldom. And that's what we're going to talk about today. Short-often, not just long-seldom,
as a way to promote the gains that we want.
Now, in the last few weeks, I have had an opportunity to teach in elementary schools, do demonstration lessons in middle schools and in high school. And there was a universal nature, and it was in
three different states. And there were children who were not, like, "riveted" to my every word! And raise your hand if you've ever had, in your school setting, lack of rivet! And some of the
children, even at the secondary level where I was teaching totally enlightening information, did not appear to be totally enlightened. Raise your hand if you've ever had lack of enlightenment! Now I,
looking out at this group, I think we have a few administrators here, too. Raise your hand if you are an administrator of a program. Okay, leave those up, because I like to do lots of extra
monitoring of them.
Last week, I had an all principal night session, from 7:00 to 9:00. Whoa! All right! So, we are going to use the same active participation I'd use if I had the gift of teaching your children. When
answers are very short, we'll say the answers together. I'll ask a question, I'll put up my hands, this says, "Think! Do not blurt!" And when I lower my hands right there, you'll say the answer. For
example, what day of the week is it, everyone? It is...?
>> Thursday! And tomorrow it will be?
>> Thursday!
>> Friday!
>>Friday! Excellent! Now, sometimes you're going to share answers with a partner, so everybody at their table needs a partner. Let me model with this table. You're number one, partner number two.
You're number one, partner number two. You're number one, partner number two. Now, if you end up with an odd number, and raise your hand if you happen to be a principal. We have some. Yes, so
principals, every teacher should have every period, an even number. It's just as simple as that! And if someone's partner is absent, you know, you just send home the partner! So, don't forget that,
add it to your To Do list! But if you end up with an odd number, then form a triad with the middle person being one, and the other two being a two. Everyone needs a partner, no outliers in the back.
Get a partner and a number, and go!
Hey! Fall silent, turn and stare at your partner. And raise your hand if your number is one. And raise your hand if you're a two. And raise your hand if you're a one, raise your hand if you're a two.
Raise your hand if you're a two! All right, that was just an alertness check! All right!
So, we are going to look at short writing, and we had this all set up, and just a second -- so, this is a handout that's online for you. We're going to put it up as a PDF, but also as a .doc file, so
that you can use whatever goes with it. And there are some other PowerPoints that are going to be up there for your use, too, as we talk about this. So, when we talk about short writing, what we're
really looking at is, the kind of writing that could occur in a high school chemistry class, a biology class, a social studies class, a health class, that could happen in a middle school, language
arts or a social studies class. It could happen in a Special Ed classroom, it could happen in a fourth grade, but ones that would not be a two week assignment, not ones that would be six pages, but
might be a paragraph, so that the students were not writing occasionally, but writing often; writing as a way to learn. And there are a number of types of writing that are particularly useful, and
one is that the students have read something, or have had a unit on something, and they write a -- what, everyone?
>> A summary.
>> A summary. And a summary happens to be one of the best forms of having the kids write, because it's the two-for-one. When you look, for example, at the review of research and writing, called
Writing Next, that was written by Steve Graham and Dolores Perin, one of the things they recommended is that students write summaries. But when you look at the research on comprehension, one of the
recommendations is that the students write summaries. So, we're going to get comprehension as well as writing. Another one would be that a student in the throes of learning information might write
something that is a Compare and -- what, everyone?
>> Contrast. So, we write how two characters are the same and how they're different, how the United Nations and the League of Nations are same and different, how two wars in terms of the causes were
>> Contrast.
same and different. So that, again, could be used in many classes. We are definitely having a technology problem now, and I have no idea why, because we never do! So, sweetie, you're going to sit
here and touch it. You have a new job. It is to --
>> Just keep it going!
>> -- keep it going, because it's not the computer, it's something in the connection. But just touch here, but not yet. Not yet, no. Not yet. OK. Not yet.
>>Not yet.
>> All right, I'll cue you. And the third one is that the students would respond in terms of comprehension and -- what, everyone?
>> Reflection. But here is the problem - Even in short writing, if you tell students in a fourth grade class to write a summary of a story, what they do is this - This happened first, then this
>> Reflection.
happened next, then this happened next, then this happened next, then this happened next. And you say, "Time's up," and they write, "The End." If you say to a social studies class in eighth grade
write a summary of the information on Jacksonian democracy, what you get is, like, whoo, attitude! Errgh! Errgh! Errgh! Raise your hand if you've ever been there! And so, even with short writing, we
have a challenge, in that the task is here, and the students are here. They look at it as if it is a daunting task, even though it's not going to be a six-page paper. One of the challenges in the
area of writing is that children lack what we know to be called efficacy; the belief that I can do it. There's two big areas that we have very good research on, that show that students don't have a
consistent believe they can do it. One is writing, and one is math. And if I don't believe I can do it, then I'm not going to be motivated to engage in it. So, our job as teachers is to recognize the
task is here, the students are here, the belief system often is, "I can't do it," and we need to, like, lift them up!
Now, I'm going to use an analogy of coming to this hotel, because I had much time to anticipate and think about this. So, first, I was in New York City for the last week, working there. And I was to
fly out of Newark to Dulles to Harrisburg. And so, I got to Newark very early yesterday, three hours before my flight. That's because I wanted to have, like, a nice dinner, do some work, do some
emails. So, I did. I had a nice dinner, did some emails. And then my flight was delayed a half hour, an hour, two hours and a half, and they weren't going to get me through Dulles to here. So, I went
up to the counter, and I said, "Well, you know, I need some help here, because I do need to be there tomorrow morning, and can you help me out? Can you put me on another airline? And then they picked
up my card, and they said, "Oh, platinum, I think we'll help!" And so, that was useful when you fly too much! So, they got me on a U.S. Air flight that went through Philadelphia to Harrisburg, and I
got in at about 11:30. But I didn't have any luggage, and so I went to the U.S. Air, and they said no, it probably came in on the United flight, go there. And they were locked up, and no one was
there, and so I didn't have any luggage. So, finally, I got to the hotel, so I called United, I said, "Can you send me the luggage, because I saw it in the United Office. There it was, I know it's
there, can you get someone to bring it to -- "No, we can't, because now it's transfer responsibility, U.S. Air." All right! And so, "U.S. Air, can you do it?" "No, because it's in the United Office."
All right! Well, so this morning, I had to get up at dawn's earliest light, take a cab to the airport to claim it. And then I had to open up a suitcase to prove it was mine, because there was my book
on the top, that I wrote. And so, I thought that was good proof! But then they said, "Well, someone else could own the book," and I said, "Well, I hope they do!" But anyway, so, we finally got back
But, so that was sort of the feeling I had, just a little bit of frustration. And is it possible, that starting new pursuit, that some of our students might have some frustration, some history of
things not going their way. Could that happen? Yes or no, everyone?
>> Yes! So, go back to last night, when I came in and got my room. Now, I've stayed at this hotel many, many times, but I've always stayed where you just go to the first elevator to the next flight,
>> Yes!
and the closest room is yours. But when you're the last person to register, it's not that true! And so, gave me the map, I'm the last person in, and I have the last, furthest room from the lobby! I
look at that map, and I look I look at the map, and I look at the map! And Matt, the wonderful man at the desk explained to me, "You just go here, and you take an elevator one up, and then you go
down this long hall, take one down, then you go down this hall, then you take one up, and you go down this hall. And you'll know it because it's Reese's Pieces," or whatever! So, I start on my
journey, and I'm not finding it. And it's late, and so I say to myself, "Anita, you need, like, help!" So I go back to the lobby, there's not a worker bee in the lobby. But there are some people
having, like, a really good time over in the other social area! And so, I go over and a wonderful participant leaped up and said, "I'll help you!" And so, we tried, and it was enough! And that's the
same thing with our kids. Just asking a peer often is not, like, enough! And so, she said, "Let's go back and let's find someone." So I did go back, and now Matt is back at the front desk. And I
said, "Matt, you know, we tried this. We followed the map, we went up, we went down, we up, and we're just not, like, getting there!" And he said, "Well, I'll take you!" So, that's exactly like our
students. The relief of having, like, a teacher who's going to teach you, and a teacher who believes that not just telling you what to do, but modeling it.
So, Matt walks me to my room, and all the way to the room, and I am just, like, thrilled, "Thank you, Matt, I got this down!" And then I got up early this morning, and I said, okay, Matt got you here,
but you still need some scaffolding! And you really can't call the desk and say, "Send Matt!" And so, at this point, what did I do? Well, I said, okay, Anita, you have an idea how to get back, but
then you're not sure how to get back! So, I took out my iPhone, and I started down, I took a picture of the hall, and then I took a picture of the elevator. And then I took a picture of after I
punched it to know where I went. And then, okay, so all the way. It's sort of like I'm scaffolding myself with breadcrumbs on the way. And finally, I get to the front. And I say, yes! Scaffolding! It
really helped me! First I had a teacher which reduced my frustration, then I had scaffolding. But, I needed practice, and I had lots of practice, because then I had to go back when I got my luggage
and got dressed, and then I came back to get a cup of coffee, then I went back to dry my hair, and then I came back. And so, each time, I tried a little less scaffolding, until I think I'm able to
walk independently to my room. But I have the backup phone number of Matt! So, but it was so wonderful to reflect on the familiarity of this scenario with our students, when it comes to something
like, whoo, writing! They need the teacher, they need the scaffolding, they need the practice if they're going to gain it.
So, that is what we're going to look at, and tools that we could easily put in place, because I am very convinced if we are going to get our kids to write, they need to write often, they need to have
teaching and scaffolding. But it has to be writing that doesn't just occur in the resource room, it occurs in their science, in their social studies, and other situations. And, it is done often
enough to reduce their belief they can't do it, to set them up for success. Raise your hand if that would be sort of your vision, too. 'Eh?
So, looking over here, so the Common Core focus is on extended and short writing products. So, it says right in the Common Core that the students would write for long extended times, and for short.
And we looked at the three things that we're going to focus on, but the students do need scaffolding. And when you look at the research on writing and scaffolding, we've got three major types of
scaffolding. One of them is that the students are given a writing -- what, everyone?
>> Strategy.
>> Strategy. Or, so that they were given certain steps that they are going to follow, in order to write a product. Another possibility is that they are given writing --?
>> Frames. And the writing frames, of course, would have some of the paragraph there, and then they're going to complete the sentences! And finally, they could have a special graphic organizer, and
>> Frames.
the research on writing referred to as what, everyone? A --
>> Think sheet.
>> A think sheet. And those are basically the three major kinds of scaffolding. Some of them are more scaffolding, for example, a writing frame is more scaffolding than giving them a think sheet. And
a think sheet is more scaffolding than giving them a writing strategy. So, the maximum amount of scaffolding would be a writing frame. And we would use this in the same way that we would teach other
things. That we are not just going to say to students, "Here is a think sheet, fill it in, write from that, bless you!" Because basically, a sign and bless is not working with our students. We would
have to model how to do it, model how to use that think sheet, or that frame.
So, the same model of instruction we use for teaching many things, we would often use, of, I do it, I model it, we do it together, and then you do it. So, these steps are, what, everyone?
>> I do it, we do it, you do it.
>> I do it, we do it, you do it. Now, sometimes, we can, if it is a lot of scaffolding, we can simply model it. Watch me do it, or I give you a model, a worked problem model, and then you do it.
Now, here is one of the biggest issues in writing that I don't think we've faced. And that is this, and one of the reasons for short writing. When we do long products, those long products often take a
great deal of teacher time to grade and give feedback on it. And in search for a life, many teachers then assign less writing, so that they have, like, a hope of a life! And I see this when I am in
my hometown of Portland, Oregon, like this Saturday. I start my Saturday mornings exactly the same. In my neighborhood, we have six Starbucks', and then I go to one of them, then I work up the street
to the 24-hour Starbucks. You do not have one in Pennsylvania. And when I got to the first one, there's a big oak table, and I always sit in one chair at the end, to work. And inevitably, a high
school English teacher, or a middle school English teacher arrives with a stack of papers, and I can guarantee, they're there for the day! And they're not, like, happy about it! They're thinking, "I
will never assign this again," but the end result is, our kids are getting less writing practice. That's one reason why we need to give short writing practice that don't demand the same amount of
time for giving feedback.
So, what kind of feedback on short products would we want? Well, one kind of feedback would be right as these students are writing. So, you're doing a very good job, thank you! So, as we are having
the students write, of course, the teachers are not sitting at their desks. The teachers are out and about, monitoring. What Stan Payne talked about, we walk around, we look around, we talk around.
We walk around, we look around, we talk around. And when we talk around, there's three basic kinds of feedback. I could either acknowledge and praise you, I could encourage you, or I could correct
you. What we often call "peck, peck, peck," praise, encourage or correct. Praise, encourage or correct. Everyone!
>> Praise, encourage or correct. So, I am walking around, and I stop here, and I say, "Excellent! You have a claim here, I know exactly what you're writing about. Now, finish up the frame, which will
give your reasons." Or, it could be encourage. "Honey, we're writing now!" Or, it could be a correction. "I read your claim, and I can't tell what your position on that is. Can you make this so it's
very clear, plain. I'll be back." So, we could give feedback in real time.
Another possibility is, I'm monitoring, and I give feedback to the whole group. And so, I say, "Pencils down, look up here." When I am monitoring, the one thing I'm noticing is that our claims, which
have to be absolutely clear so anybody reads it knows what side of the issue we have. Not all of them are. So, I want you to reread your sentence that is a claim, be absolutely certain that everybody
would know what your position is. First, ones, I want you to read it to your partner, see if they know which side of the issue. Then twos, read yours to your partner, and then continue writing.
Now, so we could give feedback to the whole group. We could also have kids listen to their partner, read the whole product and give feedback, or we could have the students evaluate their own. So, I'm
not looking here for every comma corrected, I'm not looking for a colon changed to a semicolon. What I'm looking for is, the students are practicing writing, and they're given feedback primarily on
the content of it, and the structure and organization of it. And the teacher, if they need a grade, might have completion, partial completion, no completion. But they're not going to take it to
Starbuck's, 'eh? See, now? So, we can get the practice in we need, it's just like this. If you want to be a better cook, you need to, like, cook! And every dinner does not have to be Thanksgiving!
And so, that's exactly analogy to what we're looking for, here.
Well, let's look at summaries. And remember, there's three scaffolding; a strategy, a think sheet or a writing frame. So, this is a strategy for writing a informational summary, informational summary,
taken from the work that I did with Dr. Mary Gleason on Rewards and Rewards Plus. So, we taught the students a simple strategy, but very powerful, that you do these steps - List, cross out, connect
and number. Everybody!
>> List, cross out, connect and number.
>> List, cross out, connect and number. That you write down the topic, and you make a --?
>> List. Then you reflect on the list, and if you have a weak idea, one that is not critical in the summary, before you even start writing, you cross it out. And then, you ask yourself, are there any
>> List.
ideas that could easily be crafted into one sentence, and if so, you connect them with a little pointy arrow, and then you number them and write them. List, cross out, connect and number.
So, let's look at the example, here. So, the students have read an article about the history of Greek Theater. So, they write down the topic, Greek Theater, and then they wrote down details that they
thought were important enough to include in the summary. And, then they look back at it and said, you know, this was not a significant detail, so they crossed it out. Connected ideas that could go
together, numbered it, and then wrote their summary. So, this could be actually not just used for a summary, this could be used for any informational paragraph, or any argument paragraph where you
have a reason and key details that support it. List, cross out, connect and number. Everybody!
>> List, cross out, connect and number.
>> List, cross out, connect and number. And the writing quality of the students in our study significantly increased, using this simply strategy.
Now, what I like to always myself if I teach kids a strategy is, will it generalize and be useful other places? So, if I was a Special Ed teacher, and taught them list, cross out, connect and number,
could they use that in their sixth grade social studies class? Yes or no?
>> Yes.
>> They could still be using it in high school! My goodness, they could still be using it in --?
>> College! Why, they could still be using it in, whoo-whoo, life! So then, and simple and generalizable, that's what we're looking for. Ones that they would actually, like, use! Some strategies are
so difficult, you'd never remember them and never use them, and they're not worth teaching. So, simple, usable, generalizable.
Well, another possibility, this is just like a little bonus that's in this handout, one of the things that is a character of writing is the utilization of transition. So, this is just a reference for
you, so that you could duplicate it and use it with your students. But I want to tell you a recent observation I made. In the Common Core, they're asking children constantly to add evidence to their
comprehension answers. That's one of the big things; find evidence, add evidence. So, just two weeks ago, I was in Wichita, Kansas, and I was reading eighth grade papers, in which they had to read
documents, and add evidence. But the problem was, the students had no way to infuse the evidence in what they were writing, so they just, like, popped it in. They needed to have, like, a list of ways
to do it. For example, "according to," "in this document," "on page seven of this." They need these kinds of cues for adding evidence. So, I would suggest that teachers who are teaching kids how to
add evidence make up a beautiful list of those kinds of statements that give the kids a way.
One day, I was in a high school class in a borough of New York, and this young woman raises her hand. And we were talking about transitions. She raised her hand, and she said, "Dr. Archer, did you
know if you wanted to have an example, you could start the sentence by saying, 'For example.'" I said, "Wow, I'll be using it!" So, but a teacher had told her that, and it was reminder to me that
even though she had read a lot, we do not automatically pick up these things. Some teachers are committing what I call, "assumicide," assuming that if you're a reader, that you might have, like,
noticed things like, "for example." But you don't. You don't attend to that as you're reading. You attend to the content. So, we have to point it out. You want an example? Try, "for example." So,
this is just a bonus.
So, here's another way to work on summaries. And this one, I just want to get you enthused about. So, one of the movements I see across the country is, teaching children that basically sort of
schemas, that when you have a topic, there are sort of subtopics that go under it that stay the same. For example, you're in social studies, and you're studying an inventor. And what you want to
learn about that famous person is, who they were, why were they famous, what were their accomplishments? Where did they live? When did they live? What did they believe? What's unusual or important
about them? Now, you're in music class, and you're going to write a short paper about a composer. Who was that composer? Why were they famous? What were their accomplishments? Where did they live?
When did they live? Where did they live? What did they believe, and what was interesting about them?
Now, the goal of this is to use them again and again and again, to plant in the children schema, so they can say, if I want to learn about a person, these are the things I want to learn. This is so
cool! Can you see how this would be cool? And it could be adapted to so many of our classes, where we could use them again and again and again. So, this is an example of a day I was reading actually
in a fourth grade about Ben Franklin, and the teacher had introduced, here is the schema that we use when we talk about famous people; whether it's in social studies, or in our science class, or an
author in language arts. And so, after reading Ben Franklin, we answered these questions, and the students under my guidance filled in their think sheet. And then, we actually wrote a paragraph
together that summarized this. But even if we had just stopped here, the students are learning something, how to think. You know, everybody has in their head many schemas that you use again and again
and again. And teaching them to kids is very useful.
So, these are just some examples. Maybe we are going to have a concept, and, or a theory. Maybe it's going to be continental drift. And afterwards, we're going to go back through. What is it called?
Continental Drift. What is the big idea? That at one time all of the continents were connected, as shown by their outlines today. Or, maybe we have an organization. So, we study the United Nations,
and fill these in. We study the League of Nations, we fill it in. We study Doctors Without Borders, we fill it in. We study your school district administration, we fill it in. Because in
organization, you ask basically the same questions. Okay, show me some, like, really, thrill. Isn't this interesting? Hey, we need more thrill in the room, okay? I'll have to practice thrill with
you, in a second.
So, we have an event. When did the event occur? Where did it occur? What was its duration? What happened? What happened in the end? What caused the event? Why is it significant? And what were the
consequences? Well, you could take any event in history, you could take any event in an organization or a state, country, school district. You could take the Ukraine, I just did this, actually, with
the high school over time of what was happening in the Ukraine.
Here is another one of these schema think sheets for a narrative story. And the student could use this to fill it in, and then write about it, make a summary from it, because for every narrative, what
is the title? Who is the author? What was the theme? What was the setting? What was the relevance of the setting? Who was the main character, et cetera? Now, I want to tell you, because you're
getting this as a .doc file, if you taught very young children, you would make this simpler. And so, you could just edit away. We're just giving it to you to edit, as you wish. So, you'd probably
find some that you wanted to cut out as they were first learning it.
So, we looked at a strategy, we looked at a think sheet. Another possibility would be a writing frame. So, check your partner, see if they're still with us. Some of them have this on -- excellent!
Perfect! So, I am looking for writing frames that many teachers could use. In fact, you're going to get, if you go online, you'll get a PowerPoint that has about 50 of these, so that a teacher could
just find it, put it up on the screen, and use it. And that would be, like, a really happy moment! So, here is one that was for a summary of informational text. And the students would -- this one was
one that I most recently used in a middle school setting. And the students would copy this in this section of the chapter a number of critical points were made about, and then they would finish it.
And then, after the end punctuation, they wouldn't go to the next line. That's the major error we had to watch. They go to the end punctuation and write, "First the authors pointed out that." So,
let's look at the example there, from the class I taught in middle school on continental drift, a true thriller!
And so, afterwards, we did this together, as the teaching model of it. In this section of the chapter, a number of critical points were made about Alfred Wegener's theory of continental drift. Then
they copied, "First the author pointed out that" -- Wegener believed that all the continents were once joined together in a single land mass that drifted apart, forming the continents of today. And
then they copied, "This was important because" -- explained by the outline. Okay?
Now, there are many benefits of writing frames. And I want you to take a moment with your partner and think of whether it was this, or many that we're going to look at, what would be some of the
benefits if I was a Special Ed teacher and using it, or I was in a general ed science class, and was using it. And as you do it, count the number of benefits that you can come up with of a writing
frame, and go!
I expected very astute answers. You know, the first answer I heard was this - The students have a way to get the task started. Now, that is no small thing, and I find that the most critical one,
because the teacher says, "Write a summary," and our kids sit there, like, "Huh? What am I doing? What do I do next? What do I do? What are you talking about?" And I'm not just talking about Special
Ed kids. I'm talking about the masses. And so, it gives them a way to start. A number of you said, it also helps them with the structure and the organization of what they are writing, so that their
writing is more structure. But you know, we'll do one later, and you'll see, it also structures your thinking. And so, as you're doing it, it tells you, well, what do the authors first point out? Oh,
that's going to structure what I'm looking for, what I'm thinking about. A number of you also said that this is academic language, not conversational English. And so, the students are actually
writing a product that has academic language; such as, many of them don't say, "first," "next," "therefore," "another critical," "finally." So, it is giving them the practice of academic language in
But then, one person said, wow, when they're done, they have a product that sounds academic. See, one of the benefits of writing frames is, if we have that lack of efficacy, that lack of belief that I
can write, we have got to give them situations where they start believing they can, like, whoo-whoo, write! And this is exactly what that does.
And I had a perfect experience of it. I'm working one week a month on a project for response to intervention for the State of Kansas, in Wichita. And so, I'm very blessed by this work, and they've
done a beautiful job, and they're multitier services. And I was at a school that was almost 80% students that were free and reduced lunch, but also that were first language Spanish. And I went to
observe in a language arts class. And the teacher had come to me and said, "You know, every time I announce we're going to write, I have, like, revolution, across this group of students." And so, I
said, "Well, let's scaffold it so they have success." So, we started using writing frames, and the day I was there, the students had a writing frame not unlike this, it was actually one for a
narrative. And when they were done, they were so proud of their products. They could tell that they were well-written. And they wanted to put them all up. Everybody wanted to put theirs up. She
hadn't gotten anybody to ever say, "Put mine up," everybody wanted to put theirs up.
Now, there is some other hidden benefits. And that teacher said, "Anita, I have some students who probably, after we did this a while, could write without it." And I said, "Here is the glory of
writing frames, and that is the perfect tool for differentiation." So, I can use, let's say, this one in my science class. Maybe I use it for one chapter, and then we use it for another chapter, and
then we use it for another chapter. And then I put it up and say, "Today you could choose to use this, or you could choose to substitute your own wording." And then the next time we put it up, I say,
"You could use this, or you could change some of the words, or you could change it in totality, as long as you have a summary." So, I can still have some students who are fully scaffolded, some that
are partially scaffolded and some that are doing it on their own. That is a very good thing, true? Now, some kids might want to go to doing it on their own, and I, as a teacher, would have to come
over and say, "Use the scaffold!" Because we need writing hope, here. So, to me, there are many, many benefits.
Now, just recently, I had a teacher when I was teaching this raise her hand and say, "Anita, the problem here is, it takes away all of the creativity in writing." And here was my response. Let's
pretend that you don't cook, right? And you're taking a cooking class. You don't cook at all, really. It's pathetic! And so, we're taking you to a cooking class. Now, hopefully, that teacher in that
cooking class does not start with alternatives to oregano, but rather, with a simple recipe, so that we have, as our first goal, edible! That people could, like, actually eat it! And later, after you
have really mastered "edible,' then we could talk about the utilization of spices, and throw in cayenne pepper. But not now. We need "edible." And see, we have a lot of children who have not gotten
their writing even close to edible, true? And so, I'm not fearful that this is going to reduce their creativity. I am certain it's going to get them closer to edible. And those creative kids, and our
kids and general ed kids who are creative are still going to be creative, as soon as we lighten up the scaffolding. So, I'm not afraid of that at all, even when I taught University, I had not edible!
And so, we just have too many kids who have not gotten to where we want, to day that this is going to reduce their creativity. And so, cook, stick with the recipes, make it edible. A few years from
now, we'll talk spices, okay?
Well, here is a parallel one that is a narrative for a -- or, a writing frame for a narrative. And again, the students would copy it, complete it. So, here is an example. And again, if you just ask an
elementary student, particularly, to write a summary, all they do is say - This happened first, and this happened next and this happened next, and this happened next, and next and next and next and
next. And I'm telling you the truth -- then, when you say, "Time's up," they write, "The End." It's very cute! But this is more what we're looking at. This gets them to think about the essential
elements of a story that would be in a synopsis. So, "The title of this story was," the kids copy that, "My summer vacation." The setting of the story was, "A cattle ranch in Texas during summer
vacation." Wallace was the main character of the story. We learned that Wallace was a young city boy who was spending his summer with the crew, on a ranch. His problem was that he had to learn all
the skills of a wrangler, such as, how to move the cattle from one location to another, and use a lasso properly. And so, would we get a higher quality product than we often do? Yes, or no, everyone?
>> Yes.
>> Yes. But the teacher has to model it, the teacher has to give them an example, or do one with them, so that they know how to proceed, using this more independently.
Now, I'm always told, "Anita, you didn't give us any examples of writing frames that we could use, like, in math classes, particularly in high school." Well, I stuffed one in here! So, but it just
shows the generalizability of it. So, this actually came from a study where the students in math had to do a statistical analysis. Maybe they are going to choose, in high school, to analyze the last
50 years of snow in Pennsylvania. And so they say, I am going to investigate if there are any changes in the snow in Pennsylvania over the last 50 years, and if there are any patterns that emerge in
the amount of snowfall. I think that the results will show that there is a diminished amount of snow, that we have measured snow, every year. I don't know if that's true, but that's just a
hypothesis. I think this, because there's not much snow out there today. And the information I need to collect is the measured snowfall, by month, for the months of November, December, January,
February, March, April, and unfortunately sometimes May. And I'm going to get this information by going to our state weather department.
Now, so, we had a high school math teacher who said, "Oh, my God, this is good!" And this is exactly what the kids did, and they all had a product that was very academic, as a result. Then they write
up their data. Well, the science teacher said, "Anita, is there nothing for science?" Well, you can use all of the short ones, but this was actually from a study on how to support kids writing up a
science lab. And so, it designates the part of the lab -- this is the introduction, the materials and method, this is the data, this is discussion of the data, this is the conclusion. And it's a
combination of a checklist to be certain you have all of these things, but then the kids didn't have science wording. So, then, they put in sentence starters that you could use to make it sound more
scientific! Well, the science teachers, now, are, like, happy people, because is it possible that some students in high school chemistry might benefit from some scaffolding? Yes, or now?
>> Now, I've had people who didn't use this in classes, but took it home to their son and daughter and said, "Gosh, this is what you're going to do. You're going to check it off, you're going to use
>> Yes!
these sentences, and you're going to have the best lab report of all time!" So, if you have a student in your home, this is one to pull out. But again, it shows the benefit of scaffolding, and here
again, the teacher could use this very specifically for a first lab, and the next lab, and then could reduce it. You could reduce it, or you can -- you have to have the same information, but you
could use your own wording. And next time, you can use it, or you can change some of the wording, or you can change it altogether, but you still have to have the same information. So then, we could,
once again, have it utilized at different levels across our students.
Well, let's go over to the second one I put on that list. All of those are ways to summarize; summarize the labs, summarize the data we've collected, summarize what we've read. But another one is
Compare and Contrast. And here, just following that idea, we could have a writing frame for Compare and Contrast. And these are so generic, as to make them useful across classes. So, let me just use
-- I was just in your -- for a long time I had a second home in New York, and my residence, see, though, is in Portland, Oregon. So, I'll just compare New York City and Portland, Oregon. New York and
Portland are similar in a number of ways. Both of them are the largest city in their state, though they are not the capital. Another critical similarity is, they both have major rivers running
through the city. Another critical similarity is, they both have a dedication to art and music. Another important -- okay, I've almost run out -- the differences between New York and Portland are
obvious. The most important difference is, New York has buildings, and Portland has trees.
So, but, you can see that we could use this for two characters, many different things we would be able to use it. Now, I put this example in because it is something else we need to be aware of. This
was an example I taught in a advanced placement high school class. Many kids get into advanced placement and do not have good writing skills. They have taken notes, they have smiled often in class.
They have been a hand-waver. And they have gotten into advanced placement, but their writing is still -- ahem! And so, I was working with these teachers to do short writing scaffolded, so that they
could embed the teaching kids about writing, as they used the scaffolding. Because a scaffolding helps you learn about writing! So, it is a tool of instruction.
So, the teacher said, "Okay, what we are focusing on today is, what are the differences between narrative and informational text?" It was not, like, a total thriller, but we did it. And so, we wrote
in, "How were they the same, and how were they different?" And we used the structure of it. But afterwards, one girl said, "Wow, that's some of the best writing I've ever done!" Advanced placement.
So, there is times when scaffolding can be used as a tool to take kids even higher.
Well, we could also use a think sheet. So, I could have given them a graphic organizer to be able to utilize; so here, they're comparing the Senate to the House of Representatives; how they are the
same, and then how they are different. Now, here is one big idea about using think sheets, though. Think sheets need to be done so that students could generate them themself, to use independently,
because if I give you this think sheet in social studies in middle school, and we use it often to compare things, but then, you go to another class, another grade, and the teacher doesn't give you a
think sheet, but you say, oh, this is no problem I write a piece of paper, I write down - Same, Different. I write the two things I'm comparing, and then I write down how they are the same, and then
I write how they are different, a category, and the differences, so the students could create this with great ease. In fact, that's how you measure if you're going to use a think sheet. You go
online, and you're going to find a lot of graphic organizers for writing. But some of them, you could never create on your own, particularly, like, the cute ones. And so, you want ones that they
could, and you teach them.
Today, I'm not going to give you -- I gave you an empty one, I'm not going to give you this -- but get out a piece of paper, fold it in half, put Same at the top, Different at the bottom. Put the two
things we're comparing, so you can write how they're the same and how they're different, then you're going to write one paragraph, two paragraphs. So, you teach them how to do it independently. That
is that gradual release of responsibility. Gradually release the responsibility, so the students could do it more independently. So, anytime we have something like this, we have to think, how can we
fade it to independence?
Well, thus, there is the paragraph. And for this, they wrote one paragraph for Same, and a number of paragraphs for Different. And a bonus, if you're going to teach them Compare and Contrast, these
are just the kind of comparisons for that.
Well, let's look at another element. And that is, answering questions. And before we look at this, I just want you to think for a minute of what errors do you think students that you serve might make,
if they were given a written question, and were asked to answer it? So, I want you to talk it over with your partner, what are the kind of errors they might make? Now, I'll tell you one. Is it
possible that someone might write a word or a phrase, rather than a complete sentence? Is that possible? Yes. So, talk it over with your partner other kind of errors like that might occur when they
are writing an answer to a question.
Well, we actually researched this answer. So, we looked at questions and students' answers to figure out what kind of strategy they needed, because of the kind of errors that they make. So, you
figured them out. The first error was, many of them answered with a word or a phrase, rather than a complete sentence, though teachers want a complete sentence. Another error is that many of their
answers did not actually match the question. And so, they had not read the question carefully, to know how to respond. Another error that occurred when they were answering comprehension questions was
that some of their answers, they never could use for subsequent study. For example, they had answers such as, "There are three." Oh, this is going to be totally enlightening when I study! Could it be
igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic rocks? Or, is it legislative, executive, judicial branch? Or, about a month ago, I worked for the diesis of Fresno, California, and I said, "Well, maybe it's Father,
Son and Holy Ghost!" I mean, really! So, you adapt to your group. And not only that, they were mostly nuns, so... But, the point being that, those were the three most common errors - Not a complete
sentence, it didn't match the question or answer, and they could not subsequently study it.
So, this is a simple strategy for answering written questions, and it was one that we also used in rewards. So, we field-tested it, and the students would first read the -- what, everyone? The --
>> Item.
>> Item. And then, as many of us have taught children, the second step is actually the most critical, is that you take wording from the question, and turn it into part of the answer. And so, if the
question was, what are the three branches of the federal government? On your paper, you would write - "The three branches of the federal government area..." Now, that one is not to be skipped. All of
our kids need to be taught this, because the end result is, you had to think of the question. So, then there's a higher probability that your answer will meet it. But also, you write it down,
immediately. "The three branches of the federal government are..." And thus, you're going to, when you complete it, have a complete sentence. So, the step two is the critical one.
Then, you could either think of the answer, or you could locate the answer or evidence within the material, and complete it. This is the kind of strategy that we've always taught general ed and
Special Ed students, and we can't not teach it. Read the question, turn it into part of the answer, write that partial sentence down, think of the answer, or locate the answer or evidence, and
complete it. So, we could teach a strategy.
Another possibility is to give these students writing frames. And now, they could be general, and these are some general ones. So, I'm giving an explanation, there are a number of reasons why. There
are number of reasons why we might use writing frames. The most important reason is, they give students a way to begin the writing product. Another reason is, they end up with coherent academic
language within their product. A further reason I might use writing frames in my classroom is, it will structure their thinking, and their writing. So, you can see why I have chosen to utilize
writing frames out within my class, and also to give the examples to my colleagues in the school, so that we could have short writing in many classes. Okay!
So, these are some examples for explanations - Maybe we are going to work on argument. Now, argument is sort of the centerfold of the writing in the Common Core. Now, it is useful if the students
would do short arguments, a lot of them, before they do, like, the big essay, that they're already thinking about their claim. One other thing I'm finding is, language arts teachers, Special Ed
teachers, we must be careful to be certain our kids understand the language of the Common Core. So, I am teaching, in January, in California, in Central California. I'm teaching a lesson in eighth
grade, and I say when we have an argument, we first have to decide what is our claim. A boy raises his hand, and he says, "Are you still talking about the Gold Rush? Now, I had a moment, I was trying
to figure out this non-sequitur, but they had been studying the Gold Rush in California, and you make a claim! And I said to myself, like, oh, yes, we have to again not commit assumicide, we have to,
like, think! Maybe they don't know what a claim is! Maybe they've heard it as a thesis statement, or as an opinion, from elementary. We'd better be certain that they know the language of the Common
So, this is a very good way to have them start. So, the last time that I modeled this for a student was this, it was in social studies. And they were given this prompt, they had been reading about
Andrew Jackson, and the prompt was, do you believe that Andrew Jackson was as a president what he advertised during the election that he was "the president of the common man," okay? And so, the
issue, either you believe that he was the president for the common man or not, unless you're going to have a claim. So, I said to the students, let's talk about reasons on both sides, and then I
modeled for them.
So, though not everyone would agree, I want to argue that Andrew Jackson was not the president for the common man. And I have several reasons for arguing this point of view. My first reason is, though
he did expand suffrage, so it wasn't just wealthy white men who could vote, but all white men, whether they had property or not, whether they were wealthy or not, could vote. But it still did not
include people of color, men of color and it did not include women at all. A further reason is that he did not include the Native Americans as being a president for the common man. He ordered the
removal of Native Americans from Georgia and Florida, and moved them to a territory labeled, "The Indian Country." Furthermore, Andrew Jackson was a president who owned 150 slaves. So, obviously, he
also excluded from common men, slaves. Therefore, although some people might argue that Andrew Jackson was for the common man because he was the first president that was not wealthy that was elected,
and he did include more people of varying incomes in his vote, I have shown that he was not the common man for people of color, for women and for Native Americans.
Now, notice that that is a lot of thinking that goes into that, right? But we're not writing an eight-page paper. But, you see, if you practice that often, you'd be, like, ready for it. You would have
-- here is the issue, here is my claim, and here is my big reasons. And then, when I write a longer argument, what I'm going to do is, for each of those reasons, I'm going to give more evidence, more
explanation of it. But what we often do is, start, like, writing the big one, rather than doing this over time, so that the kids already have, like, the gist of it. So, and can you see how this could
be done in almost every class? We could be writing little arguments in many classes!
Now, I just want to bring us to another big point that we have found in our work on teaching kids how to write arguments. So, I have worked in doing field testing of teaching kids how to write in
middle school and argument. And we were able to teach them how to write a long essay, we were able to teach them how to write an introduction, a body, a conclusion. We were able to teach them how to
have a claim in the introduction, and to preview the reasons. We were able to teach them in the body to have reasons, and all the details that supported it with evidence. But, here was the problem -
When we looked at their work, the sentences were so weak that the essays were still weak. It's sort of like I could have a wonderful recipe for a salad, I mean a wonderful one, and I go to my kitchen
and open up the refrigerator, and it says that I need kale, and I have some kale. It's been in there for a few months, but it's still kale! I pull it out. Then it says you need to have an onion.
Slightly moldy, but it's an onion. Then I pull out, it says you need some radishes. They're also in the moldy bin, but I have radishes. And then it says you need some oil, which is beyond the date on
the bottom by a few years, but I have oil. So, I have all the ingredients. But, it would not be edible. And that's what we've found. The students knew all the parts of an essay, but the sentences
were weak.
So, we need to work on sentences, even as we're working on these. And one of the people's work I really appreciate is Judith Hochman's research. Now, Judith Hochman worked on sentences through
sentence expanding. And if the kids came into a seventh grade language arts class, this would be their do now, every day. They'd have one of these up for, "Do Now's." And they would be given a kernel
sentence, and then they would have to choose, in this case, three questions to answer, and they'd write those down, and then how they would answer them. And then, they would put them all together in
one sentence. So, maybe It could be like this - We went to a conference, and you decide to say when, in February, and where, at Hershey Lodge, and why, to gain more expertise in serving our children.
And then, you put it together. "In February, we went to an excellent conference at Hershey Lodge to learn more skills to serve our children." 'Eh?
Well, one of the things that we're now doing is, we're using this as a "Do Now" in other classes, 'eh? So this is an example from that unit that we did with Andrew Jackson. So, we taught the kids,
when you come in, you're going to have a sentence here that's going to require you to use what you learned recently in social studies, in order to do this. This is very cool, so get the coolness of
it! So you come in, and up on the board is only this, "Andrew Jackson and his American forces won." Well, before he was elected, he was well-known across the country because of this. And so, you say,
well, I'm going to answer these three questions. What? The Battle of New Orleans. And when? January 18th, 1850. And why did they win it? Well, they wanted to keep the British from seizing New Orleans
and the Louisiana Purchase. Then we teach them how to put it together.
I just want -- raise your hand if you're a teacher here. Raise your hand. I just want you to think, wouldn't it be lovely if your children could, like, write this, okay? "On January 8th, 1815, Andrew
Jackson and his American forces won the Battle of New Orleans, stopping the British from invading and seizing New Orleans, and the vast Louisiana Purchase." Raise your hand again, if you think,
"Whoo..." Right? Now, but we've done more than one thing. We've done short writing, we have done coherent writing that's academic, we have looked at the structure of a sentence, and we have reviewed
social studies! Whoo, whoo, whoo! Right?
So the students in the classes where we're doing this, they have, like, a social studies composition book, and they write these down, so then they end up over time with a summary of the information!
It is, like, so good! But I also included one, just as an example, of one that was done in language arts. So, here, the students were reading the novel, and if you haven't read it, it's a good read
for you, too. They were reading the novel, Wonder, 'eh? It's actually one of the best books that I've read for students who are in fifth or sixth or sevenths, to increase their empathy about students
with disabilities. This is a very beautifully written, very beautifully written book! And so, they were reading about August, a fifth grader. And August has very, very severe facial deformities. So,
we put up, after we read the first chapter, this - August is going to school. And who is he? A young boy with facial deformities. When? In the fall. Why? He no longer needs to be home-schooled
because of frequent surgeries. And what is he? In fifth grade. So, when we modeled putting it together, "In the fall, August, a boy with facial deformities, will go to school for the first time
because he no longer needs to be home-schooled because of frequent surgeries."
So, now we get practice on sentences, practice expanding sentences, more sophisticated. We get a summary of what we have read, chapter one, so that -- and we get short writing. It is good, because it
puts it all together. Can you see how this could be an everyday kind of task? The kids would get the task down, and it's the kind of short writing that serves the class in learning, as well as in
Well, I want to take a moment to look at the PowerPoint with you that is going to be available, because of its potential use. And I want you to have in your hand just a pen and something to write on,
because as we look at this, I just want you to write down some that you could see being used, and where you might see it being used.
So, in addition to this handout which will be up as a .doc file, we'll put this up as a PowerPoint. I'm always looking for things that are for the students; fairly simple, that they could generalize,
and use across classes and use across time. But I'm also very respectful of teacher time, and I'm looking for things that are highly powerful, and low-prep. Raise your hand if those things, you like,
too. And things that would be very useful, but also low prep. And so, we made a collection by looking through studies and sources, a collection of writing frames. Some of them you've already seen,
like a summary of informational text. And so, use it in science or social studies class, and it can be. You're going to get it as a PowerPoint, so if you wanted to make it simpler, you can. There,
you have an example. So, you could even share the example with the students. And I'll just tell you, the biggest error we had is, this is written down, so you copy it and complete it -- many kids,
then, needed to see that you start this sentence after the punctuation, not at the margin. So, that was a detail you really have to emphasize to make it look like a paragraph.
And that's why we showed this, okay, and now, we start after the period, not here. And here is the narrative one we looked at. Now, this is one that is a summary of what we watched on a video. And so,
if I, because we are watching many videos in science and social studies classes, but if you knew that you were going to have to write a summary, is it possible that you might actually, like, attend
to it more? Yes or no, everyone?
>> Yes.
>> Yes. Okay. And so, the most recent one that I watched in the class happened to be one that was in Portland, Oregon, in a high school class. And if you look out my bedroom window, you see Mount
Hood. And it was a video on Mount Hood. Although I already knew that Mount Hood was one of the highest composite volcanoes in the Northwest, I gained much more information about Mount Hood from this
video. I learned some new facts from the video titled, Mount Hood. I learned first that over time, since the early 1900s, that many people have climbed Mount Hood. In fact, many of the groups had as
many as 400 climbers. And, I also discovered that when they climb Mount Hood, they leave at midnight, or soon after, because they have to walk on ice. And if they walk too much during the daytime,
then it is not safe, so that the climbers climb with headlights, or flashlights, and they leave at night. Another fact that I learned was that about a third of all the climbers have been women, and
in the early 1900s, they wore dresses, which was not the optimum climbing apparel, you can tell from the pictures. However, the most important and interesting thing I become aware of was, the impact
of global warming on melting the glaciers on Mount Hood, which means if it continues, no one will be able to climb it, because all that will be left is gravel-like rock that you can't walk on, that
it has to have the snow and ice in order for people to climb it.
So, again, it got me started. It structured my thinking, it structured my writing, and I could have kids take five or six minutes to do this, right? Then they could share it with their partner, and
then we could have a discussion.
Now, here is another big point of having short writing - If students have to write before they discuss, thus they have thought of it, the discussion go way up. If we just simply say, "So, Shawn, what
was one important thing about that?" Then, you will get wimpy, undeveloped thoughts. And so, you need to have them think about it, and having them do short writing before a discussion improves it
significantly. Given that the Common Core is all about collaborative conversations, to have a collaborative conversation, you must have an idea. And this allows you to come up with ideas.
We looked at Compare and Contrast, but we know that you're teaching a range of children in terms of grades and age. And so, we included some simpler ones that we located. And simpler ones that we
located. And, we also have a explanation, and a simpler explanation. So, we're going to stop on this one. And, you've got that pencil in hand, and this is not going to be about writing frames, but
short writing. So, there are a number of reasons why students should write short products, often. Not just long products, seldom. And you're going to do the whole paragraph. So, get your pencil
ready, and if you want to just add to it, you can; I would not allow children to do that, because I'd have them write the whole thing. But we'll make it shorter. There are a number of reasons why we
would have students write short products, not just long products. And, finish it up, and begin.
Notice that I'm not standing up in the front, I am monitoring. Why? If I do not monitor, are some of our children not writing?
>> Mm-hmm.
>> Yes, 'eh? It's all about accountability. First, making it possible, because you have a writing frame to support it, but also, it is accountability. And so, going around and giving feedback, again,
phrase, encouragement and corrections, but we can't have teachers sitting at their desk. We have not one study showing the number of minutes teachers sit at desks highly related to student gains. But
we do know the amount of times teachers teach, the amount of times that they monitor and give feedback, directly related to teacher gains. So, writing requires, like every other area, walk around,
look around, talk around. Walk around, look around, talk around. Many of you are wrapping this up, and so, first ones, you are going to read your paragraph to your partner, then twos, you're going to
read your paragraph to your partner. And, begin. What would be some reasons for short writing?
[INDISCERNABLE] as I monitored, almost all of you started out with the benefit of practice, that if I write and write and write some more, that I am going to get better, particularly if it's
scaffolded so it's good writing. I am going to get better at writing. Many of you also said, infused in it would be consistent practice with writing skills; like using transitions, using punctuation.
A number of you also said, writing often is a way to actually increase the amount of learning in subject areas. So, we're using it not just to practice writing, but as a way to rehearse and think
about it. In fact, if you look at my reading some great books on practice, because I'm doing a Webinar for the State of Alaska on practice, starting next week. So, I've read, now, six books on the
research on practice. And one of the biggest things that they talk about is, the importance of what is called, "retrieval practice," where you have to retrieve information, and how that retrieval
practice increases the probability of learning.
So, for example, I had two groups here in a study. In this group, I had you read material, an article three times, and this groups, I had you read it once, but every time I had a line, you're going to
stop and ask yourself questions. Then you're going to look back and check it. Are you going to do retrieval practice, and you only get to read it once. And you read it three times, this group had
significantly higher immediate and long-term retention of the information, because you have to retrieve it. And so, when you're writing, you are retrieving your ideas that you're putting in there,
increasing the probability that you will remember it. And so, many of you said if we wrote often, kids would be less intimidated by writing. They would have success because of the scaffolding, thus
they could change their attitude towards writing, that they would also benefit because they would be learning many skills embedded in the scaffolding that they could generalize to other products.
Beautiful job! But if we had a discussion, many of you also said, this would be excellent front-loading for a discussion, because now you have ideas in mind that you could utilize within the
All right. Well, explanation, a process. I just want to show you that these are useful in all classes! So, I was visiting a teacher who teaches art at the middle school, and all of our teachers were
trying to include more reading of informational text, and more writing. And she said, "Anita, how are we going to include writing?" And I said, "Well, sweetie, I was in your class, and you have been
teaching for the last two weeks how to draw animals. And you had a poster over here of these steps, that you've gone through every day. Now, take that poster down, give the students a writing frame,
and have them write up the process." She said, "Whoo! To draw a picture of an animal, you need to follow these basic steps - First you need to carefully examine a picture of the animal, and determine
the largest part, the body of the animal, and on your paper draw an oval for that body. Next, you need to draw shapes for the head and the legs and arms of the animal, usually using a circle and
ovals. Then, you need to connect the parts and begin to add details to the drawing. When you've finished, you should have a picture of an animal that resembles the photo that you were given, whoo,
whoo, whoo!"
And so, again, she said, "Well, we're practicing writing, but now they've had to retrieve information about the process, and so that they're more likely to remember it, because they have had to
practice the retrieval." Whoa, smiley face for teacher! And an argument, and then another process, a more detailed argument, and an opinion. So, we put lots of variety here, so you just, like, flip
through to find your, like, favorite! "I think that this is an excellent conference! I feel this way because I got a Hershey bar when I came!" No! They almost forgot, and I stood there next to him,
and he said, "Oh, Hershey bar!" And I ate it! Maybe we have a description of a character, a description of an observation that we have had in science. We have an analysis of a character. You just
tell kids in sixth grade, "Write an analysis of this character." "Errgh!"
But, this one points out that there is going to be some significant traits, and that we're going to learn about those traits through certain events. And then we learn why this is a critical trait. So,
this really, again, is teaching you about how authors focus not on the totality of the individual, but a trait that is often absolutely critical to the plot, or a simpler one. This one is one that we
use to teach kids how to write up their math story problem processes.
Now, this came about because a number of years ago, in the State of Washington, the superintendent of the state was a good friend of mine. And she said, "Anita, our scores have plummeted in math, not
because kids couldn't do the operation, not because they didn't label it, but we are now requesting that they write a paragraph describing their process, and they couldn't do it." And, "What are we
going to do?" And I said, "Well, sweetheart, Terry, it's the same answer always. Let us teach them! That's why we're still called teachers!" And you know, we could tell people to do it, we could pray
that they would do it, we could hope that they would do it. But let's instead teach them. And she said, "How would you do it?" And I said, "The best thing to do would be to give them a writing frame
and use it once or twice a week, starting in September through January, then gradually fade it out so the students have had the practice, they know the structure, the know the kind of wording, and
continue to have them practice leading up to the state test."
So, I taught this with the class that the superintendent observed, and I was teaching fifth graders, who were learning how to figure out averages, and they had to figure out the average salary of the
village people. It was a generic village. It was not the dance! Okay, and so, in this problem, we were asked to figure out the average salary of the working people in the village. Some information
was already given, including the number of people that were employed, and each of their salaries. When creating a plan to solve the problem, I decided to follow a number of steps. First, I verified
the number of people that were employed. Next, I verified each of their salaries. Then I added up their salaries, and finally, I divided the number of employed individuals into the total amount of
income. After following these steps, I determined that the answers was $50,000. To check this answer, I redid all of my calculations using a calculator. Based on my verification of my answer, I am
quite certain that this is accurate.
So, we gave them the frame initially, and they wrote it out, and we actually had it in front of them. Then, a few weeks later, we put it on the screen, and they had to use it. And then, we gave them
the option of using it, or their own language. Then we gave them the option of using it, changing some of the language, or changing almost all of it, by having the same information. Fading it out,
getting it ready for a state test. Got to have a plan for the gradual release of responsibility.
Well, this one, we are going to do. So, get your pencil out again! And, this came from a study that was done in secondary classes. It could be the exit ticket. When I am in secondary classes, I find
that there's almost no closure at the end; it's just sort of, like, "No! Pick up your materials, line up, we're out of here!" And storm the door is not closure! And so, this study, every day this
went up, and it was used in two ways; one, sometimes the teacher would say, pick any of these three questions to answer in your science, or your social studies, your language arts log. Or, the
teacher could give specific questions that the students were to answer. And so, your job is, you are going to answer any three of these, and they're going to be shared with a group of people in a
moment. But you're going to pick out three, and everyone in the room is writing down the sentences. So, don't do it in your head, write it down, because you're going to be sharing it with a group.
And, go! Any three.
Actually share this with a group -- now, this is going to be easy when you have, like, a table here, and you have, like, a lot of people at your table. But, we have some tables that have too few
people, and so we want groups that have at least eight people. So, over here, some of you can rush and join some of those wimpy tables, or they can move, or you can just say, "Oh, two rows, stand up
and make a circle." This group over here, everybody here stand up, make a circle over there. Come on! Everybody, getting up, getting up. Don't do anything but make a circle. Pretend you're at a
table. One person up here. Good job! Some people can come join this group. They have a small amount. You, too! You just go join them. Okay! As soon as you have your groups, your little huddle group,
either at a table or there, fall silent. Excellent! Thank you, beautiful job!
So, looking at -- would you please stand? So, we have circles, and the person that is in this position is the one that's going to do it first, and they're going to share what they have written. Then,
we are going to move to the next person. But after you say it, then we're going to have at least one person ask you a question. Then you're going to share yours, and at least one person's going to
ask a question. You're going to share yours, at least one person's going to ask a question. And, don't leave, though, because we will have closure. And so -- but, get the structure here. I'm just not
saying read it. Read it, ask a question. Read it, as a question. So, we're going to do rounds, and begin now.
Okay, thank you very much! First of all, I just want you to notice the richness of much of your discussion, because you thought about it first, and had a way to organize. And so, we got sort of proof
how this might improve the quality of discussions, by having the students be able to think about it, read it, and then ask them questions. Well, we looked at one major way that we could tackle
writing. But, this is so doable. It is doable because we can do it in the Special Ed class, it's doable because content area teachers can do it, it's doable that it can be adapted to lower grades. It
is doable because it can support kids doing homework! I had two parents here say, "Wow, I'm getting that PowerPoint, we're having it in our room, so when my son comes home and says, 'I've got to
write a summary,' I'll say, 'Find the writing frame,' and then I will have, like, a life!" And so, you have total generalization. A totally delightful group, and we can make a difference with kids'
writing. Most of us were not taught writing. It happens to be one of the areas where teachers don't have efficacy that they can teach it with ease, because basically, when we went through school, the
major method was, assign and bless! Write an essay, bless you! Write a lab report, bless you! Write a paragraph, bless you! And then, we had to struggle through it. But we can teach writing, we can
support it, particularly if we give teachers tools such as what we talked about today. May you have a great lunch, a great conference! Thank you for being so attentive, and participating! Yaay! Thank
you, thank you!
And I do want to tell you, and I presume that it will probably be edited also, but you notice that it is being videoed. I gave them permission to video this because I thought it might be a useful one
to share at your school sites. And so, it's going to be available for that purpose. So, check in. Thank you so much, videographer, for being present! Yaay! And do we need any closure closures?
>> Yes, we do! Dr. Archer, you never disappoint! Please join me in thanking her again for imparting her wisdom!
>> Thank you!