Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Valuing What Students have to Say (Write)

Jeff Anderson has published an article in ASCD's recent Educationa Leadership titled Helping Writers Find Power. As a 6th grade English teacher, he comes across plenty of struggling writers. One of his first maxims is to:
Say something good about the content of students' writing before saying anything else. Hands down, that's the most important thing. This is their soul on the page. Be sincere; you don't neeed to go gooey over everything they produce. But do rummage for and celebrate what they've done well.

This fits hand in glove with what we have learned through our study of Routman's work. This type of encouragement and celebration will produce students who see themseles as writers with meaningful messages. They will be more invested in making those corrections that will make the meaning all the more clear and appealing.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Primacy of Literacy

In an article on Education World, Pete Hall describes some priorities for focusing the work of an elementary school. Here's what he says about meeting all the needs of content instruction through literacy development.

Teach content through literacy. We would be remiss to bypass the important content areas of science, social studies, mathematics, the arts, physical education, and baseball history. Each of those subject areas has its place in the education of every child, and each, surprisingly enough, can be taught through literacy. Success in integrating content into literacy instruction is not contingent upon having a ton of reading materials and every child's individual level for every topic; rather, it involves utilizing solid literacy-focused instructional strategies to teach the content areas. A serious dedication and laser-like focus on literacy-based instructional methods does not preclude a well-rounded education. In fact, it is a requirement of one.

What I like about this is that it helps solve some of the "time" issue. It's not a matter of maknig more time for literacy, but teaching literacy strategies while delivering all types of content.