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September 2014 eNewsletter

Do You Teach Using an Interactive Whiteboard?

TeacherFeature Update

WriteSteps Lessons Approved by EQuIP Peer Review Panel

Revise/Arms Student Writing Poster

Upcoming Conferences
"We need technology in every classroom and in every student and teacher's hand, because it is the pen and paper of our time, and it is the lens through which we experience much of our world."
~David Warlick

Do you teach using an interactive whiteboard?
At WriteSteps, we realize the importance of integrating technology into writing instruction. That's why we are working in collaboration with several teachers from Cranberry Elementary in Seneca, Pennsylvania, who are in the process of creating engaging WriteSteps interactive whiteboard lessons. Soon 2nd and 5th grade WriteSteps teachers will have the ability to teach their WriteSteps lessons using their interactive whiteboards (IWBs).

2nd grade teachers Julie Schwab and Heidi Neely, and 5th grade teachers Rita Heeter, Stephanie Miller, and Tina Dawson, have already tested and tried these lessons with their own students. You can be assured that you're getting the best interactive whiteboard lessons because they're created by teachers, for teachers. Prior to teaching these interactive whiteboard lessons, Julie, Heidi, Rita, Stephanie and Tina were using WriteSteps in the stand and deliver whole group instruction. In contrast to teaching the traditional way, these Cranberry Elementary teachers have found that the interactive lessons are helping to increase engagement, motivation, and provide writing instruction in a digital environment that prepares students for our technology driven world.

For the first time ever, interactive whiteboard lessons are available for 100% of the Common Core writing and grammar standards. This amazing offer will be available to our existing WriteSteps customers first. We are still working out the details, however we will notify you via email to let you know the reduced rate to try these interactive whiteboard lessons for a year.

WriteSteps is continually working hard to provide you with an unlimited wealth of resources and tools to continue to improve your students writing abilities. Look for an email from founder and CEO Suzanne Klein announcing this exciting limited time offer.

TeacherFeature
Do you have a solution to share for the problems teachers face while teaching writing? Help teachers around the nation by submitting a video with your tip. If we select your video for use in our future professional development sessions, we will send you a $50 check! Better yet, submit as many videos as you like.

Together, we CAN improve writing in elementary schools.

Here are the things we are looking for:
  • A tip or an authentic solution to problems teachers face while teaching writing.
  • Videos shot in a real elementary classroom, possibly demonstrating with visuals.
  • Videos 1 minute or less in length (this is equivalent to 120 words).
  • In the video: state your name, grade level (or position), and your idea. Please be clear and concise.
Email your video to [email protected]. Include the topic you chose in the subject line and please provide your full name and mailing address in the message so that we know where to mail the check if your video is selected.

We will accept any strategy or tip related to teaching writing. Here are some possible topics and questions to help you choose a strategy or tip to share:

Classroom Management Issues
When should I do writing? Morning or afternoon?
What if the noise level is too loud during writing time?
What if students finish at different times?
How do I stop students from lining up at my desk to read their writing?
What about students who don't use their time wisely?
What if I have so many different ability levels in my room?
What do students do when they are done writing?

Material Management Issues
Where should I house their writing (i.e.-journal, spiral bound, binder, notebook, or folder)?
What kind of paper should they use (i.e.-blank, notebook, etc...)?
Should they use dictionaries when they write?
How do students keep track of their materials?

Writing Content & Ideas
What if students write on the same topic over and over again?

Writing Process-Planning
Do I check their plan before they begin writing?
What if their writing doesn't match their plan?
How do I teach them to use their plan when writing?
What if I have a student who doesn't want to plan their writing, and wants to get started writing?

Writing Process-Writing
What do you do with students who don't know how to start their writing?
How do I handle a student who finishes too quickly?
What does a student do if they aren't finished and writing time is over?

Writing Process-Editing
How much editing should I expect from my students?
What if they read over their writing and say it is perfect?
How do I teach my students to edit their own writing?
What if they are spelling high frequency words wrong in their writing?
What if they spell words right on spelling test, but wrong in their writing?

Writing Process-Publishing
Who chooses which piece gets published?
How does a piece get published?

Writing Process-Sharing
When does sharing take place?
Who should share?
What does a student share?
What does the rest of the class do?

Assessment
What is the purpose of assessing students' writing?
How can I get more scores instead of just one for a formal writing piece at the end of a unit?
What do I do with the assessment information?

For additional topic ideas and further details follow the link!

WriteSteps Lessons Approved by EQuIP Peer Review Panel
A sampling of our third grade lessons in opinion writing have been posted on the EQuIP (Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products) section of Achieve's website along with the quality review feedback from the EQuIP Peer Review Panel.

EQuIP is an initiative of Achieve designed to identify high-quality materials aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Below are some comments from the EQuIP Review Panel specific to the third grade WriteSteps Opinion Writing lessons submitted:
  • It is obvious that the developer loves teaching writing and the value of writing to post-secondary success. The embrace of opinion writing is also supportive of the spirit of the writing strand.
  • The lesson incorporates a variety of text types and leads students to an authentic writing task of a persuasive letter. The topic of cafeteria food would be a familiar starting point for third grade students as they receive instruction in the area of letter writing.
  • Writing from Sources: The students write their own persuasive essays, using the two text sources, which do provide a balance of informational and literary texts. Students plan for the use of evidence by highlighting potential sources of fact/evidence. The use of Elliott's essay, and the specific study of its construction and features, will really help students to see what is wanted in their own essays.
  • The designer has created a unit of study that demonstrates quality and rigor in nearly all aspects of its dimensions.
"Achieve is grateful for WriteSteps' contributions and recognize they will help increase the supply of high-quality lessons and units aligned to the CCSS," said Alissa Peltzman, Vice President for State Policy & Implementation Support. "We believe that educators across the country will benefit from access to these materials."

WriteSteps Freebie: Revise Classroom Poster
What steps should your students take when it comes to revising their writing pieces? Hang this poster in your classroom to use as a revising reminder for your students!

Download your free classroom poster here.

Coming to a Conference Near You!
September 19-20, Springfield, MA
Kim Gates will be presenting, "7 Keys That Inspire Success in Common Core Writing," to attendees at the New England Reading Association Conference, Be sure to come to her presentation and receive valuable tools that can help you with your Common Core writing instruction.

September 25-26, Athens, GA
Marilyn Massey will exhibit at the Georgia Association of Curriculum & Instructional Supervisors Conference in Athens, GA. Stop by the WriteSteps booth to say hello and enter for your chance to win a free one-year trial of eWriteSteps!


"Digital media enables us to build more stages for our kids to express themselves."
~Marco Torres