Friday, May 20, 2011

Writing - it's in the details!

It's never too late to teach an old dog, like me, new trickes!  Ten years ago or so, a teacher I was mentoring taught me a writing strategy.  Ever since then I've used a modification of The Four Square Writing Method to help students learn how to write. 

First I verbally gave a topic and asked the teachers to come up with three examples.  i.e. three types of animals, or three cities, or three famous people etc. 

Next, I model the use of a graphic organizer on the board where I now write the topic and three examples.

The third step in the process, write topics on the white board and have students come to the board and write three examples under the topic.

Then I check for understanding..... the topic is world cities and the examples were Paris, Sidney and U.S.A.  So I go through the list and ask the group one-by-one "Is this a city?"  Of couse when the group gets to U.S.A. the response is no!  That's a country. 

Now, after having modeled this step first, I write a topic, ask the individual to give three examples AND under each example to write three details. 

Whether it is teachers or students, this is a difficult step.  The individual at the whiteboard knows that everyone is watching them!

The last step is to show the group how to take the information from the three examples and their subsequent details, and turn this brainstormed information into a written text.

The modified Four Square Writing Method works like a charm!  The step-by-step approach which is auditory, visual as well as kinesthetic, is one the student pick up on immediately and see immediate results.

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