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Write With Joanna
By Suzanne Klein on 1/6/2012 12:33 PM
Suzanne Klein's inspiration for WriteSteps was sparked for her own search for teacher-friendly solutions for writing instruction as a first-grade teacher. The inspiration for WriteSteps came out of my own search for teacher-friendly writing solutions when I was a K-5 teacher.
K-5 writing instruction has taken some baby steps forward since I first began offering WriteSteps lessons outside my own school in 2007. Because the Common Core elevates the teaching of writing at all grade levels, I see more districts starting to take writing seriously.

But we have such a long way to go! As I travel the country to address school leaders about Common Core writing, I still find teachers everywhere who are completely lacking the support they need to give their students the gift of clear written expression. I just feel so disheartened when I hear their stories.
By Suzanne Klein on 12/9/2011 12:55 PM
Teacher Denise Dusseau created the 3rd grade curriculum for the Common Core WriteSteps

Today’s blog features simple and effective teaching tips from our 3rd grade Curriculum Creator, Denise Dusseau. Denise is a gifted classroom teacher who used the Lucy Calkins writing program until we launched the Common Core WriteSteps in September.

She reported in our December Inspired Writer eNewsletter that since she started using WriteSteps, even her struggling writers are making wonderful gains! A quarter of her students have learning disabilities and/or ADD.

By Suzanne Klein on 10/24/2011 10:14 PM
Conferencing with the teacher is a time of personalized coaching and encouragement for students practicing Common Core Standard writing skills. Conferencing individualizes instruction and reinforces new skills, ultimately helping K-5 students discover their power as writers.

"Teaching writing must become more like coaching a sport and less like presenting information. You have to do more than call out the errors."
                                          ~Lucy Calkins

Conferencing lies at the heart of effective writing instruction. Why?

Because writing, unlike other subjects, offers no single correct answer. In some ways, writing is like playing a sport. You have to put a variety of skills together to hit the target. As teachers, we demonstrate the rules of the game and guide our students in strengthening their performance. Like the coach who offers personalized advice to help each athlete improve, we give individualized feedback that accelerates learning.

 

In the writing workshop model, conferencing is the primary vehicle for this individualized instruction. Yet during WriteSteps professional development days, teachers ask more questions about conferencing than anything else. Here are the most common obstacles we see to successful K-5 conferencing:
By Suzanne Klein on 10/17/2011 2:24 PM
Though K-5 students are required by the Common Core to practice writing with digital tools, writing by hand seems to stimulate brain development far more than keyboarding. Though K-5 students are required by the Common Core to practice writing with digital tools, writing by hand does far more to stimulate brain development.
There's been a lot of talk about ditching handwriting instruction  -- some districts are making it optional after second grade! WriteSteps is not a handwriting program, but we're impressed by research that connects old-fashioned pencil and paper skills to higher-level brain development.

WriteSteps focuses on the essential writing skills outlined in the ELA Common Cores (including digital tools like keyboarding), but also gives children plenty of practice writing by hand.  Have you seen the surprising research on handwriting and the brain?
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