Georgia Middle School’s goal this year is for 100% of our students to develop and extend beyond proficiency as writers. We have begun this year with two main sub-goals in this process: have students writing regularly in every class and to instruct and support the ‘steal and slide’ strategy to all students.
As James Clear states in his book, Atomic Habits, “Success is the product of daily habits – not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.” In order to create a culture where we all recognize ourselves as writers, we have committed to regular writing opportunities and experiences throughout our day. Students have been writing in all of their classes and learning strategies on how to make claims, support them with evidence and insight, and writing strong conclusions. Some of the great ways our student writers have engaged in sharing their learning through writing include:
- comparisons between a short story and a video adaptation,
- state reports identifying key aspects of their geography and economy and comparing it to Vermont,
- arguments for or against “sameness” as they have read The Giver together,
- problem solving explanations of their mathematical solution,
- personal reflections in art class,
- letters to the principal about the benefits of recess in health class, and
- daily reflections on the day’s lesson in Spanish
The investment we have made in building the regular habits with clear expectations around writing have begun to show great growth in our budding writers. Each week, teachers gather in teams to look at student work and discuss where our students are growing as writers and what areas they need to continue to develop. Discussions about how to provide specific and targeted feedback to students to support their ability to clearly communicate their thinking through the written word.
“I think I have grown as a writer this year. This is because I have been writing more than I used to. I also learned more techniques to use in my writing. ”
Exciting evidence of our amazing writers has come from our 5th and 6th graders. In a class-wide study of the novel, Deep Water, students have been learning about and engrossing themselves in understanding strong narrative writing. Lessons have emphasized the importance and implementation of figurative language and how strong word choice enriches your writing to help create strong imagery for the reader. Students have learned how these writing tools, along with dialogue, help to make the reader feel like they are in the story.
“I have grown as a writer by learning how to use other words for basic adjectives and verbs. For example, instead of saying said I could say replied, shouted, stated, etc. depending on the situation in writing. I hope to learn more about how to use similes and metaphors in my writing. I know what they mean but I would like to learn how to use them in all my writing/stories.”
Recently students created their own ending to the novel. The examples of student work shows just how well our students have taken their new learning and have adapted to create their own strong voice in developing their own creative ending.
Here is a wonderful Deep Water ending from one of our 5th grade students:
We are excited to see our students blossom into writers and build pride in their written works. As we continue to pursue our goal of ALL students to develop and extend beyond proficiency as writers, we hope to inspire the next generation of storytellers as well. And if our student’s responses for what they want to learn next is any indication, we can anticipate some wonderful things from these budding writers.
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