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Middle-School Teachers Revise Writing Curriculum with Katie Johnson

Cambridge, MA (PRWEB) July 11, 2013

For the first two days of their summer vacation, the middle school teachers of Fayerweather Street School in Cambridge (MA) were back in school. And happy to be there.

They came to work with Katie Johnson, teacher and writer of books about writing (Doing Words, Reading Into Writing, and others). With her guidance, the teachers revisited, reviewed, and revised their writing curriculum for grades 5-8.

Writing curriculum is composed of a daunting list of elements: writing process, including prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing; forms and genres, including expository, narrative, and poetic writing; the six traits of good writing, including ideas, organization, word choice, sentence fluency, voice; and (not least) conventions of the English language, including spelling, grammar, usage, and penmanship.

The group first voted on what to leave out (four of the Six Traits) and zeroed in on forms (especially Expository), word choice, and conventions, specifically (the most frustrating for writing teachers) spelling and handwriting.

After plowing their way through all of those areas appropriate to four different grade levels, their work ended with a quick two-hour review of writing process, especially the importance of and strategies for revision. In keeping with her commitment to movement as an aid to learning, Katie led the group in some games as well.

“It was great to have all the different aspects of writing all sorted out before we began,” commented one resource-room teacher. “Time!” smiled a seventh-grade teacher. “Time to discuss the big picture with the teachers who send me their kids every year!"

The group hopes to continue the work in the fall. Their goal for that time will be to pull together a set of student papers showing successful work in various forms and other assignments across a year, so that assessment and grading can always be consistent.

“We want Katie back,” the teachers said. "Now we really know what to work on for our students."

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