Previously called “The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword”, this guide to high impact literacy teaching will help raise your understanding of the components of successful writing.
The overarching theme is that writing needs to be taught explicitly and practised well.
The course consists of background information on the process of writing, what can go wrong, and research-informed strategies to help teachers deliver even higher quality literacy instruction in their classrooms right away.
SESSION 1 Underlying skills and knowledge for writing
We start by exploring the components of writing and the critical processes that underlie writing fluency. We touch on:
- Orthographic mapping
- Working memory
- The Simple View of Writing
We then explore a way to look at the parts of speech that builds a valuable set of terms you can use in the classroom to help with concept development and feedback.
We will cover nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions and conjunctions in ways that go beyond “A noun is a naming word…a verb is a doing word…” and still makes complete sense.
SESSION 2 The Survival List
At Lifelong Literacy, our goal is to teach all of our students to read and write fluently. To do this, we have a list of words they need to learn as a priority. It’s called The Survival List and it constitutes some of the most common words in the English language, as well as subject-specific words for that particular student.
There are plenty of word lists readily available, such as the Dolch or Fry or Magic 100 lists, but they contain a mixture of simple and complex patterns. For instance, in the Dolch list, the word big (a simple 1:1 CVC pattern) is right there with away (a two-syllable word containing a digraph) and said (an unusual pronunciation of the digraph <ai>, which only really occurs in this word and in some accents in the word again, but which follows the grammatical/etymological pattern of lay and pay).
The amount of times we see children being given homework requiring them to learn this mishmash of random patterns is astonishing. It is simply not viable for many children.
As a solution, we have extracted the words that don’t have a transparent code structure and have placed them in families containing similar patterns. We use a simple marking system and a four-step analysis process that is taught to students so that they become aware of the words’ morphological and etymological structure and kinships.
The Survival List and 4-Step Process therefore is a template to teach any words for automatic recall when writing.
This list is called the Survival List for two reasons:
- Because knowing how to read and spell the words on their list will help them become fluent readers and writers as quickly as possible and
- Because the techniques used to learn these words can extend to other words with complex patterns that students can teach themselves, thus helping them to survive the onslaught of increasing complexity and expectation as their academic career unfolds.
SESSION 3 What about writing?
With high quality initial instruction, the majority of children can learn to read, regardless of diagnosis. But what about writing? Achievement of accurate, fluent written expression requires instruction and practice far beyond that needed for reading. Partly as a result of this, the value of high quality, early writing instruction can be neglected or downplayed in primary school, thus leading to large populations who fail to develop appropriate levels of written expression.
Teaching all children to write is hard, but worth the effort. In this module, we explore:
- Matthew effects in writing and how this can be combatted
- Muscle memory
- Phrases, clauses and sentences
- Quality vs. quantity
We also look into ways in which current practice in schools can be geared towards getting all children to improve their handwriting skills, as well as where to draw the line and get the most out of technology.
HOW IT ALL WORKS
This course is a series of three online modules and is intended to be accessed over the course of three months. During that time, Lyn and the Lifelong Literacy team will monitor the forums and feedback sections regularly and will respond to queries and assignments.
The modules contain videos, pdfs, quizzes, links and forums where you can collaborate, ask questions, make comments and upload files. It is a collaborative space and has already been well-populated with excellent suggestions and work samples.
You will receive:
- A printable manual
- Downloadable slides from all the pre-recorded presentations
- Worksheets for classroom application
Once you have completed all the modules, you will receive a certificate of participation for at total of 6 hours PD.