Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Craft - The Missing Link

No, I'm not weighing in on the evolution versus intelligent design debate - at least not yet :) I was reading Ralph Fletcher and Joann Portalupi's book Craft Lessons and noticed the similarity of their emphasis with that of Regie Routman. Here's what they say on pages 2 and 3.

Many teachers show students elaborate prewriting strategies (webs, story maps, time lines, outlines), and expect students to use them. They give students detailed editing checklists to use, either individually or in pairs.
The middle element - craft - gets the least attention. During this part of the authoring cycle, students are left on their own to make a thousand decisions in their texts about leads, voice, structure, supporting detail, setting, mood , character, and so on. This is unfortunate because craft is the cauldron in which the writing gets forged.

This is the very aim of modeled and shared writing. Students need to be given explicit examples of a writer making those myriad decisions (modeled) as she writes, then provided the opportunity to join the teacher in creating a product (shared). Having taught 9th grade English over 10 years ago, I wish I could go back and try it again. I'm afraid those poor students received very little in the way of modeled or shared writing.

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