Home' Teacher : April 2011 Contents 8 TEACHER APRIL 2011
so significant time is devoted to this phase
of the process. The teacher guides students
carefully through a range of revision craft
strategies such as 'show, don't tell,' 'lift a line
(to add extra detail),' being specific, using
voice, developing characters and setting.
In these classes, revision and editing are
taught as distinct parts of the writing process.
The teacher ensures that students understand
the difference between these phases of the
writing process. The teacher encourages the
writer to be responsible for being the initial
editor and targeting spelling, grammar and
punctuation before providing additional sup-
port. This way, ownership and responsibility
for the writing has an opportunity to flourish.
The teacher further encourages ownership by
having the student hold the pen and make
corrections as they work through the piece.
The developing writer is thus empowered.
Teachers document what occurs during
writing conferences, taking brief notes to
document the skills the writer demonstrates,
skills introduced to the writer and other rel-
evant observations regarding the work under
review. They do these things knowing that
such documentation informs the instruc-
tional direction for the class, individually
and collectively, and helps to make students
accountable to the teaching that takes place
during conferences. Folders are maintained
in which the students' writing is collected
and used to inform instructional decisions.
The writing development of students is
evaluated over time. Teachers establish cri-
teria for evaluation and share this informa-
tion readily with students. Writing samples
from the students' folders are used to make
judgments. Explanations are provided to
students regarding successes, evident pro-
gress and areas that require further atten-
tion. Conferences with the writer are used
to convey these important messages.
Knowing that writers gain satisfaction
from the responses of others to their finished
pieces, teachers provide multiple opportu-
nities and options for publishing writing.
They work towards individualising this part
of the process. Student writers are consist-
ently reminded of the importance of meet-
ing the reading needs of the target audience
and begin to make informed decisions about
how best to publish their writing. In these
classes publishing does not take on a mass-
produced, one-size-fits-all dimension. It is
dynamic, varied and exciting.
Because writers use a wide variety of
materials and resou rces, from computers,
scanners and printers to digital cameras,
paints, assorted stationery and scissors, and
on to staplers, book-binding tape and glue,
teachers strive to make these resources avail-
able within their classrooms. There's a range
of pens, pencils and markers, an assortment
of paper of varying weight, format, size and
colour, lined, unlined, and computers are
continually used throughout the writing pro-
cess, rather than merely as a publishing tool.
In these dynamic classrooms, maxi-
mum use is made of resources, both human
and non-human. When a problem arises,
the teacher will reflect and ask why. They
consult with students and colleagues, and
refer to professional reading and books in
their quest for solutions. There is a sense of
real energy around teaching and learning.
Teaching the processes of writing is viewed
as recursive and dynamic.
If these are the prevailing conditions in
the classroom, I can't help but think -- what
an exciting place for a young writer to be. T
Alan Wright is an author and educ a-
tion consultant based in Mornington,
Victoria. He has worked extensively in
the United States and Australia. His new
book, Igniting Writing: When a teacher
writes, published by Hawker Brownlow
Educ ation , is a passion ate portrayal of the
journey teachers go on when they decide
to write for and with their young writ-
ers. It takes you through the approach of
modelling and demonstrating w riting for
students as they struggle and learn from
the challe nges, and joys, of becoming con-
fident writers and communicators.
The teacher understands
that revision is the magic
behind great writing and
so significant time is
devoted to this phase of
Alan Wright's Igniting Writing: When
a teacher writes , published by Hawke r
Brow nlow Education, is available at
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