Emily Hanford sure is a hard act to follow (see part one). Luckily, those who did follow were outstanding. Conferences are always a joy, but coupled with it is the terrible fear of missing out (FOMO). Delegates have to regretfully choose between concurrent presentations. Presenters have to present at the same time as big names. There’s not much that can be done about it. Everyone has fun.
I decided to choose talks by people I hadn’t heard or read before, as much as I’m a fan of so many of the people there, I wanted to seek out the new and extend my networks. I was not disappointed.
Writing With Tiers Dawn Durham, Donna Halpin and Jeanie Hertzler, education consultants with the Pennsylvania Training and Assistance Network (PaTTAN)
In their words:
“Practitioners often struggle to find the time and resources to provide meaningful writing instruction to students. Growing proficient writers is a daunting task that includes multiple factors which may result in student challenges. This session will help educators gain insight in to explicit writing instruction across all three tiers. Participants will expand their continuum of resources to enhance writing outcomes in an effort to meet the needs of all students.”
I’m so glad there is a shift of focus that includes writing in education. The call for evidence-based practice has moved many educators to think in terms of what will help children achieve the gargantuan task of fluent writing. After all, many learn to read, but so many fail to learn to write. In America, poor writing skills are estimated to amount to a business loss of $3.1 billion (as quoted in this talk).
I myself was scheduled to deliver a talk about writing later that afternoon and it was gratifying to hear that others thought the way I did on the subject. I won’t be reporting on my talk here, but you can always book me to come and deliver it. As you can see, travel is no obstacle!
The main points of agreement between me and PaTTAN (and I daresay anyone who has thought long and hard on the subject) are:
- Teachers need to be aware of the similarities and differences between reading and writing.
- Writing involves integration of several complex skills.
- Writing requires high quality, frequent practice (“Short writing often, not long writing seldom.” – Anita Archer).
The wonderful Donna Halpin led with the statement, “You can’t intervene your way out of a crappy core.”
The talk was beautifully delivered, with all three presenters contributing at appropriate times. I must say, I fell a bit in love with Dawn Durham. What a punchy style she has! That’s not to detract from the brilliance of Donna Halpin and Jeanie Hertzler of course. We were quite spoiled!
The presenters showed the way in which good quality instruction at the sentence level forms a bridge from microstructure skills (such as handwriting, keyboarding, spelling, vocabulary and sentence structure) to macrostructure skills (such as sentence combining and complexity, and the actual process of writing).
They offered several planning templates for instruction at all RTI Tier levels, and best of all, those templates are open-source. You can find them and a wealth of other incredible resources here. Not least amongst them is the PaTTAN scope and sequence for writing describing skills and content to be mastered by the end of K-12. Treasure!
Coming soon to a blog near you…
- Delivering on the Promise of Literacy for All Through Teacher Knowledge, Data and Leadership, Laura Stewart (National Director, The Reading League), Angie Hamlin (Building Principal, Matthews Elementary, Missouri)
- Maryanne Wolf’s keynote address
- Steven Dykstra, Beyond the Science: How We Could Win Every Battle, But Still Lose the War for so Long
- Deborah Lynham and Dr. Tim Odegard, Utilizing Online Learning and Professional Communities of Practice to Build Teacher Knowledge