Daily Writing to Learn the Curriculum

Understandings

Mastering Content Standards with Constructed Responses

Understandings focuses students’ minds on what they are studying every day in every class, building mastery of curriculum content one standard at a time. Students learn to think critically by using engaging strategies in their written analysis and reflections. In the process, Understandings generates daily snapshots of what students understand, helping teachers readily identify any areas requiring further instruction.

Constructed Responses for Learning, Taylor & Francis, 2016

Primary :: Grades K-2

When teachers use the 22 critical-thinking journal strategies combined with the five key pract­ices of the Understandings routine, they see that primary grade stu­dents readily develop higher-order thought patterns. Four of these strategies help begin­ning writ­ers use letters to spell words from their thoughts phon­etic­ally. Jour­nal writ­ing for Understandings begins as dictated entries in kin­der­garten. One by one stu­dents breakaway from the group as they become confident enough to write on their own. At the end of the year, few students remain in the dic­ta­tion group. Stu­dents learn to log each of their entries in a Log of Entries for Stu­dent Self-Check at some point during Grade 1. Online or with hard copies offline, Daily Writing to Learn the Curriculum student journals empower students to archive written evi­dence of what they have learned sim­­ply and efficiently.

Elementary :: Grades 3-5

The hallmark of peak-performance learners in grades 3-5 is a dynamically expand­ing vocabulary for talking about the world around them. The 18 critical-thinking jour­nal strategies combine with the five key practices of the Understandings routine builds key vocabulary of core stand­ards. With fine-tuned control of key vocab­u­lary, stu­dents meet tests of know­ledge in ELA, math, reading, science or so­cial stu­dies with ease. In class, students have ready access to their Daily Writing to Learn the Curriculum journals in hard copy or online. Their teach­­ers prompt short written entries to activate or close a lesson effectively or al­low them reflection time at critical summary points during a lesson.

Middle School :: Grades 6-8

In grades 6-8, the 18 critical-thinking jour­nal strategies and five key practices of the Understandings rou­tine continue to build key vocabulary of core stand­ards in ELA, math, reading, science or social studies. In any class where students have ready access to their Daily Writing to Learn the Curriculum journals in hard copy or online, their engagement in learning noticeably deepens. When they write three entries/week in one subject area, their scores on tests of knowledge in that subject rise significantly. In addition, several stra­tegies have strong side effects for adolescent minds. Strategies like Either…Or prompt students to hone their per­sua­sive skills about issues important to them.  And they can practice arguing their po­sitions several times a week instead of only when their teachers make time to help them assemble an extended essay or re­search report of several pages. Other stra­­tegies like the Quad Cluster or Analogy pro­vide frequent practice in the in­for­mational/explanatory genre most often used for writing in col­lege and careers. When stu­dents experience daily routines that present short writing as activators, closes or sum­mary points for each lesson, they develop an enormous appetite for writing to learn.

High School :: Grades 9-12

In grades 9-12, the power of writing to boost the average retention rates of what stu­dents learn is on obvious display. Their entries in their Daily Writing to Learn the Curriculum journals in hard copy or online provide great study guides for exams. They prove that they are keeping pace with ad­vance­­ments in knowledge in the growing world around them. 18 critical-thinking jour­­nal stra­tegies and the five key practices of the Understandings rou­tine build students’ con­trol of key, ab­stract vocabulary of core stand­ards in career-technical-agricultural ed­u­­cation (CTAE), ELA, math, reading, science or social stu­dies. They swell with pride as they gain control over an increas­ingly larger and more finely de­fined course vo­cab­­­ulary. They articulate their understanding in class discussions more read­ily. High school students look for­ward to arguing their reaction to new know­ledge in a les­­son, then trying it out on a PAL before they go public with their newfound con­vic­tion. A well-defined rou­tine of short written entries that activate, close or create sum­­­mary points during a lesson assure peak-performance learning for life.

A Writing Process Scaffold

Structures

Mastering Extended Responses to Paired Text

Structures provides concrete and practical guidance for every step of the writing process: prewriting, drafting, revising, proofreading, evaluating and publishing. A Writing Cycle approach prompts teachers to set specific expectations and let students self-check how well they meet those expectations and become masters of their own thoughts in writing. Peer responses (PALS) occur throughout the writing process, increasing student ownership, constructive student feedback and retention of knowledge learned.

Writer’s Workshop for the Common Core, Eye on Education, 2012

Primary :: Grades K-2

The Structures instructional routine begins with the Writer’s Workshop model. Then it adds the Writing Cycle scaffold, easing the stress many teachers ex­­­per­i­ence in following the workshop model with emergent writers. A closet of instructional tools and strategies, the Writing Cycle insures that students meet or exceed the stan­dards of 11 different modes in three genres of writing (in­form­ational/ex­plan­atory, narrative and opinion pieces). Each Writing Cycle pre­sents three writing prompts in one mode of writing. Student progress is measured with:

Formative Assessment – A Working Portfolio prompts students to pre-write and write three first drafts in one mode based on short and extended reading texts. Stu­dents select one draft to revise, proofread, evaluate and pub­li­sh with assist­­ance from peers and teachers.

Students can experience the power of the Writing Cycle with the use of the Working Portfolios.

Extended writ­ing for Kindergarten students begins as weekly, dictated drafts on chart paper. One by one stu­dents breakaway from the group as they become con­fi­dent enough to write their drafts on their own. By the end of the year, few stu­dents remain in the dic­ta­tion group. Completed Work­­ing Portfolios provide written evi­dence of what students have learned sim­­ply and ef­ficiently.

Elementary :: Grades 3-5

The Structures instructional routine begins with the Writer’s Workshop model. Then it adds the Writing Cycle scaffold, easing the stress many teachers ex­­­per­i­ence in following the workshop model. A closet of instructional tools and strategies, the Writing Cycle insures that students meet or exceed the stan­dards of 11 different modes in three genres of writing (in­form­ational/ex­plan­atory, narrative and opinion pieces). Each Writing Cycle pre­sents three writing prompts in one mode of writing. Student progress is measured with:

Formative Assessment – A Working Portfolio prompts students to pre-write and write three first drafts in one mode based on short and extended reading texts. Stu­dents select one draft to revise, proofread, evaluate and pub­li­sh with assist­­ance from peers and teachers.

Students can experience the power of the Writing Cycle with the use of the Working Portfolios.

Stu­dents log each of their weekly writing tasks in a Writing Cycle Log for Stu­dent Self-Check. Completed Work­­ing Portfolios provide writ­ten evi­dence of what students have learned sim­­ply and ef­ficiently.

Middle School :: Grades 6-8

The Structures instructional routine presents the Writing Cycle scaf­fold, easing the stress many teachers ex­perience in leading their students through the writing process. A closet of instructional tools and strategies, the Writing Cycle insures that students meet or exceed the stan­dards of 13 different modes in three genres of writing (in­form­ational/ex­plan­atory, narrative and opinion pieces). Each Writing Cycle pre­sents three writing prompts in one mode of writing. Student progress is measured with:

Formative Assessment – A Working Portfolio prompts students to pre-write and write three first drafts in one mode based on short and extended reading texts. Stu­dents select one draft to revise, proofread, evaluate and pub­li­sh with assist­­ance from peers and teachers.

Students can experience the power of the Writing Cycle with the use of the Working Portfolios.

Stu­dents log each of their weekly writing tasks in a Writing Cycle Log for Stu­dent Self-Check. Completed Work­­ing Portfolios provide writ­ten evi­dence of what students have learned sim­­ply and ef­ficiently.

High School :: Grade 9-12

The Structures instructional routine presents the Writing Cycle scaf­fold, easing the stress many teachers ex­perience in leading their students through the writing process. A closet of instructional tools and strategies, the Writing Cycle insures that students meet or exceed the stan­dards of 13 different modes in three genres of writing (in­form­ational/ex­plan­atory, narrative and opinion pieces). Each Writing Cycle pre­sents three writing prompts in one mode of writing. Student progress is measured with:

Formative Assessment – A Working Portfolio prompts students to pre-write and write three first drafts in one mode based on short and extended reading texts. Stu­dents select one draft to revise, proofread, evaluate and pub­li­sh with assist­­ance from peers and teachers.

Students can experience the power of the Writing Cycle with the use of the Working Portfolios.

Stu­dents log each of their weekly writing tasks in a Writing Cycle Log for Stu­dent Self-Check. Completed Work­­ing Portfolios provide writ­ten evi­dence of what students have learned sim­­ply and ef­ficiently.

Building Language Mastery

Patterns

Mastering Language Skills with Sentence Combining

1Research shows that sentence-combining practice is the method of grammar in­struc­tion that students transfer best to actual written expression. Patterns provides 10 levels of oral, written and kinesthetic practice to build automaticity in using grammatical pat­­terns of Standard Written English. Sentence Building produces at least two years’ growth in language maturity in 15-18 weeks, including heightened gram­mati­cal under­stand­ing and increased sentence variety.

1Graham, Writing Next, 2007

Primary :: Grades K-2

Under the title of Sentence Building in levels 1-2, Patterns begins with a pretest of how students combine sen­tences in a rewrite passage. It then proceeds to in­tro­duce lessons one sentence pat­tern after another, conditioning students to use each pat­tern automatically with oral, written and kinesthetic practice. Since all sen­tence puzzles in the lessons are signaled, no grammar terms are need­ed to com­plete the lessons; however, related grammar terms are taught di­rectly at the close of each lesson. Four or five lessons of similar sentence patterns are grouped together and conclude with a written assessment of the pat­terns in the group. Gram­matical pat­terns presented include sentences, sentence-parts, non-sen­tences as well as sim­ple, compound and complex sentences. A section on paragraph build­ing and simple re­search terms taught through sentence combining complete each of these levels.

 

Lessons that are introduced with written practice of a sentence pattern are rein­forced with oral practice that includes a kinesthetic feature. Lessons that are intro­duced with oral practice are reinforced with written practice. Combining sentences, then, inserts into the writing process as a revision strategy.

Students can experience the power of Sentence Building on hard copies or on the computer with W2Win Online.

Elementary :: Grades 3-5

Under the title of Sentence Building in levels 3-5, Patterns begins with a pretest of how students combine sen­tences in a rewrite passage. It then proceeds to in­tro­duce lessons one sentence pat­tern after another, conditioning students to use each pat­tern automatically with oral, written and kinesthetic practice. Since all sen­tence puzzles in the lessons are signaled, no grammar terms are need­ed to com­plete the lessons; however, related grammar terms are taught di­rectly at the close of each lesson. Four or five lessons of similar sentence patterns are grouped together and conclude with a written assessment of the pat­terns in the group. Gram­matical pat­terns presented include sentences, sentence-parts, non-sen­tences as well as sim­ple, compound and complex sentences. A section on paragraph build­ing and simple re­search terms taught through sentence combining complete each of these levels.

 

Lessons that are introduced with written practice of a sentence pattern are rein­forced with oral practice that includes a kinesthetic feature. Lessons that are intro­duced with oral practice are reinforced with written practice. Combining sentences, then, inserts into the writing process as a revision strategy.

Students can experience the power of Sentence Building on hard copies or on the computer with W2Win Online.

Middle School :: Grades 6-8

Under the title of Sentence Building in levels 6-8, Patterns begins with a pretest of how students combine sen­tences in a rewrite passage. It then proceeds to in­tro­duce lessons one sentence pat­tern after another, conditioning students to use each pat­tern automatically with oral, written and kinesthetic practice. Since all sen­tence puzzles in the lessons are signaled, no grammar terms are need­ed to com­plete the lessons; however, related grammar terms are taught di­rectly at the close of each lesson. Four or five lessons of similar sentence patterns are grouped together and conclude with a written assessment of the pat­terns in the group. Grammatical pat­­­terns presented include sim­ple, compound, complex, compound-complex and com­­pact sentences. Lessons on paragraph building, sen­tence puz­zles without sig­nals and games like cross-sentence puzzles complete each of these levels.

 

Lessons that are introduced with written practice of a sentence pattern are rein­forced with oral practice that includes a kinesthetic feature. Lessons that are intro­duced with oral practice are reinforced with written practice. Combining sentences, then, inserts into the writing process as a revision strategy.

Students can experience the power of Sentence Building on hard copies or on the computer with W2Win Online.

High School :: Grades 9-12

Under the title of Sentence Building in levels 6-8, Patterns begins with a pretest of how students combine sen­tences in a rewrite passage. It then proceeds to in­tro­duce lessons one sentence pat­tern after another, conditioning students to use each pat­tern automatically with oral, written and kinesthetic practice. Since all sen­tence puzzles in the lessons are signaled, no grammar terms are need­ed to com­plete the lessons; however, related grammar terms are taught di­rectly at the close of each lesson. Four or five lessons of similar sentence patterns are grouped together and conclude with a written assessment of the pat­terns in the group. Gram­matical pat­terns presented include simple, compound, com­plex, compound-complex and com­pact sentences. Lessons on paragraph building, sen­tence puzzles with­out sig­nals and games like cross-sen­tence puzzles complete each of these levels.

 

Lessons that are introduced with written practice of a sentence pattern are rein­forced with oral practice that includes a kinesthetic feature. Lessons that are intro­duced with oral practice are reinforced with written practice. Combining sentences, then, inserts into the writing process as a revision strategy.

Students can experience the power of Sentence Building on hard copies or on the computer with W2Win Online.