Collins writing best Practice Writing Instruction for All

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COLLINS WRITING Best Practice Writing Instruction for All


Collins Writing: Improving Student Performance

  • Blends best practices into a unified, flexible approach
  • Focuses on thinking skills
  • Stresses both teaching and using writing—with a strategic focus
  • Engages students and increases productivity
  • Frequency – of writing experiences
  • Focus– of instruction
  • Feedback—on strategic goals
  • Key Elements of the
  • John Collins Writing Method
  • FIVE TYPES OF WRITING—reasons we write/ways we revise
  • FOCUS CORRECTION AREAS--Skills to assess; limit to three
  • READING WRITING OUT LOUD--Essential revision tool
  • SEVEN ELEMENT ASSIGNMENTS--Structured, intentional
  • ESSENTIAL ASSIGNMENTS—Purposeful, best value lessons
  • DIFFERENTIATION—Meet the needs of all learners
  • STUDENT WRITING COLLECTION--Evidence over time
  • Summarized from Collins education Associate Materials

Type One Writing Open-ended quick-write—no “correct” answer

  • Fluency and getting ideas on paper
  • Quick and flexible
  • Sentences, questions, stream of consciousness
  • Consistent format—label and skip lines
  • Easily assessed

Student Work

  • Type One Writing builds fluency. It is thinking on paper. Given five minutes, this first grader wrote three things she knew about dragonflies.
  • I know they have compound eyes and four wings. They swim under water when they are babies. They can beat their wings 100 times.

Type One Writing Prompts

  • For Activating Prior Knowledge:
  • In eight* lines or more, write the things you know or questions you have about ____________.
  • For Reflecting About Learning:
  • Think about and write down two* “hard questions” about ____________.

Type One Writing Prompts

  • For Predicting:
  • Before we (go on this field trip, conduct this experiment, study this unit), write eight* lines about some of the things you hope to find out.
  • For Making Connections:
  • How is ____________ (this type of problem, concept) similar to ________ (another type of problem, concept)? Fill seven* lines or more.

Type Two Writing Quick-write with a “right answer”—a quiz

  • Fluency and formative assessment
  • Flexible, use any time
  • Consistent format—label and skip lines
  • Usually has a number in the prompt
  • Simple, informal assessment

Type Two Writing Prompts

  • Remembering ― recalling information:
  • List five* facts about __________.
  • Understanding ― explaining ideas or concepts:
  • Summarize the three* most important points from our class yesterday (or today’s class or last night’s reading)

Type Two Writing Prompts

  • Applying ― using information in another familiar situation:
  • What two* strategies that we have talked about might you use to (solve, connect, repair, etc.) the following?
  • Analyzing ― breaking information into parts to explore relationships:
  • Describe two* ways ______ and ______ are similar and two* ways they are different.

Type Two Writing Prompts

  • Evaluating ― justifying a decision, checking, critiquing, judging:
  • Give two*reasons why this cannot be a correct answer for this question. Explain.
  • Creating ― generating new ideas, products, or ways of viewing things:
  • If the answer is ________, write two* questions that would go with that answer.

Type Three Writing A composition with specific criteria

  • Substantive content and meets up to three specific standards called focus correction areas (FCAs).
  • Create a draft, read it out loud, and review for criteria
  • One, self-edited draft
  • Assessed on focus correction areas

Student Work (Responses to Karen Hesse’s Just Juice)

  • 5/6 Learning Specialist incorporates Type 1, 2, and 3 writing assignments into reading comprehension lessons.
  • “They are learning to use writing to help them organize their thinking. I am using Type 1 and 2 daily.”

Student Work

  • Type Three Writing looks at content and writing craft. This first grader knew that his dragonfly piece needed three picture details with one label, a sentence with a capital & period, and spaces between words.

Student Work

  • This grade one sample shows differentiation at work. Since this student is more advanced, she wrote more than one sentence about her topic. The FCAs were adjusted for her.

Student Work

  • This grade one student was successful with two of the three focus correction areas: (1) Three picture details and (2) writing a sentence with capital and period. The student needs to work on the third FCA—spaces between words. Limiting an assignment to three FCAs makes it easier to assess student’s progress and areas where growth is needed.
  • “Butterflies are tiny.”

Type Four Writing A revised composition that has multiple criteria

  • Read aloud by the author (self-edited)
  • Read aloud by another (peer-edited)
  • Usually two drafts
  • Assessed on focus correction areas
  • Most effective and efficient of all of the types at improving writing skills.

Type Five Writing Writing of publishable quality

  • Self- and peer-edit
  • Teacher conference and edit
  • Usually requires multiple drafts
  • No FCAs—everything counts
  • Considered a major project because of the amount of time and effort required

Teaching FCAs

  • Step One―Focus Teaching
  • Step Two―Focus Practice
  • Step Three―Focus Assigning
  • Step Four―Focus Correcting

Focus Correction Areas for Primary and Elementary

Focus Correction Areas for Emergent Writers

  • Materials provided by Jerry Morris of Collins Education Associates

Four Essential Assignments

  • The Ten Percent Summary
    • Telling the main points of a non-fiction article
  • Vocabulary Cards
    • Using cards to master technical vocabulary
  • Similar but Different
    • Comparing and contrasting when differences are subtle
  • Short Persuasive Essay
    • Taking a stand on an issue

Seven Highly Recommended Assignments

  • “Who Am I?”
  • An autobiographical sketch about a classmate
  • Class Log
  • Creating a description of class for an
  • absent student
  • Create A Test
  • Creating a test for the unit your class has just studied

Seven Highly Recommended Assignments

  • Study Guide
  • Predicting, explaining, and answering essay questions
  • End of Unit Reflection
  • Writing a letter to future student describing how to do well in class
  • It’s a Must!
  • Thoughtful recommendations about the important aspects of this class
  • Letter to Next Year’s Teacher
  • Reflecting on what you have learned
  • We must create a writing environment where students know the purpose for writing and get support with authentic writing forms. Students also need frequent opportunities to share their voice with an attentive and responsive audience. These conditions enhance student motivation.
  • Motivated writers value writing and are more focused on both learning tasks and skill expectations.

Seven Element Assignment

  • 1. Summary and Rationale
  • 2. Writer's Purpose(s): Give a reason for writing
  • 3. Writer's Role: Writer’s
  • stance or point of view
  • 4. Audience: Who will be
  • reading the writing
  • 5. Form: Letter, report, poster, essay, poem, etc.
  • 6. Three Focus Correction Areas *
  • 7. Procedure—sequence of
  • lesson
  • (*Include Optional FCAs: to
  • accommodate or challenge)
  • When you finish…
  • * Read your report out loud in a one-foot voice. Check for any confusing parts.
  • * Edit your FCAs following your teacher's directions.
  • * Option if going on to Type Four: Have a partner read your paper out loud to you. Get feedback on your FCAs. Write a second draft with all your improvements.
  • From Improving Student Performance Through Writing and Thinking Across the Curriculum, John Collins, 2008, p. 59.

Seven Element Lesson

  • “”She is really good at signing important papers. She cares about me and my classmates. She makes you work.”
  • Second Grade
  • Assignment Summary: Write a letter explaining why your teacher would be a good president.
  • Purpose: to persuade.
  • Writer’s role: Candidate supporter
  • Audience: peers/ community
  • Form: Letter
  • FCAs: Include… (1) 1 Detail from book (2) 3 Sentences (3) Picture of teacher
  • Procedure: After listening to the Kay Winters’ story, think of your own teacher and write a letter in support of his/her presidency!

Collection/Record of Student Writing

  • Writing assignments are numbered and recorded in a student folder. Pieces can be used as models or revised further. The collection also shows student growth over time.
  • One writes
  • to make a home
  • for oneself,
  • on paper,
  • in time,
  • in others’ minds.
  • -- Alfred Kazin

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