Sixth and Seventh Grade Cycle
We picked up our conversation from before Winter Break. As a reminder, our grade level is trying to put an end to writing that looks like the following:
the sixth grade level got together and discussed writing problems and problems with conventions and one of the bigger problems concerned grammar and stuff like that especially with sentences that go on and on and on but may have good thoughts and a great idea or two but confuse the reader because the sentence goes on and on and on. Mr. Wortell mentioned voice and how many students talk when they are around each other and we agreed as a group because we all were sitting by each other agreeing as a group.
Most teachers have experienced some variation of the above on a daily basis. Students often race to put down their thoughts on their paper, feeling like they’ve done their part. Often times they have great thoughts but that great thought or idea can be lost in a whirl of thoughts that can lose the reader. How do we as a team most effectively address this need to make them college and career ready?
We looked at Dr. Beyer's comments from the last post and agreed that one writing rubric that can cover the needs of each subject as each subject has its own voice. At this point Mr. McMahon shared the following rubric. The rubric is written in a student friendly manner and can be used across multiple disciplines. Analyzing the rubric brought up a concern about students losing their voice in the process of writing.
We don't want them to lose their passion and enthusiasm as they go through the writing process. We looked at a couple of articles, one by Linda Christensen and one by Dara Hill to find the answer. Christensen states students need to know the dominant language in order to participate fully in society. She states a students "lack of fluency with the language of power will follow them like the stench of poverty long after students leave school—silencing them by making them hesitant to speak in public meetings or to write their outrage over public policy because they "talk wrong." Hill on the other hand mentions, "teachers who exert language attitudes and forbid home language as a foundation to read and write impede childrens’ access to the world of print."
Our group "aha moment" came when we considered student voice in their writing and our own biases about what great writing looks like. This challenge along with a more in depth conversation about the rubric will be discussed in the following weeks.