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By Suzanne Klein on 6/12/2014 1:44 PM

By Kresta Byington, Principal of Chauncey Davis Elementary School

Click the title to read more.

It’s a rainy, breezy day as I walk through the quiet halls of Chauncey Davis Elementary, nestled in a sleepy town along the Willapa River in Washington. I hear the sound of the rain pattering on the building, and the mossy trees are glistening outside, leaning heavily from the rain, as I begin my walkthroughs for the day. I step inside one of my fourth grade classrooms and witness an encouraging sight. The students are deep in concentration. The only sound is the collective hum of their pencils scribbling and scratching as they write their words on the paper.

Is this something you experience in your walkthroughs? Or, has writing been a struggle in your school? I know it used to be a real challenge in my building, where I’ve been the principal for the past ten years. Prior to being a building leader, I was a teacher in the district for nine years. As principal, I noticed less writing displayed in classrooms, and as a parent of two students in my school, I saw less writing coming home.  Last spring, my concerns were confirmed when only 40% of my fourth grade students met standard on the state writing test. This was unacceptable to me and something needed to be done. We just weren’t getting the quality and quantity we knew we could from having an effective writing community. I had to first discover the problems my teachers were facing when it came to writing instruction.

By David M. Hanson on 4/4/2012 3:33 PM
Photo of Suzanne Klein of WriteSteps presenting Common Core writing strategies to elementary principals at the 2012 NAESP conference. Suzanne Klein presenting at March, 2012 NAESP conference.

A report on Suzanne Klein's Common Core writing presentation to the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

I was drawn to this breakout session not only because Common Core was included in the title, but because writing is an area of challenge for my school, and from what I understand from my peers, for many others.

How many schools have a dedicated "writing time"?
WriteSteps is a Common Core based program that teaches writing to elementary-age students. One of the things I picked up early on in this session is that it is not just the process, but also an attitude, that will make the difference. If teachers are afraid of or unsure how to go about the teaching of writing, the time that is dedicated to writing will continue to be negligible. It seems that most everyone thinks it is important, but the proof is really in the intentional time it is given.
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