District Administration August 2016 - 49

New in writing T eac h ers u s e gam es and new tec h to o l s to p ro d u c e p o werf u l p ro s e B y J ennif er F ink F or a few weeks in early 2016, a computer program helped educators teach the finer points of writing to students in a Fort Worth ISD high school. Like so many schools nationwide, R.L. Paschal High School- under pressure from new state standards-has been working hard to improve writing instruction so students can express their ideas and share information fluently. And as in many schools, Paschal educators feel overwhelmed by the challenge. Technology can help administrators bridge the gap between the need for high-level writing instruction and the reality that many teachers don't feel prepared to teach the skill. And most importantly, the best writing teachers compel students to explore their ideas for a story first before ever putting pencil to paper or fingers to keyboard, says Terry Roberts, co-author of The Better Writing Breakthrough. "If you want kids to write about something challenging, you really need to put them in a position to discuss it first in an active, DAmag.me/wave GETTYIMAGES.COM/HOMETOWNCD * GETTYIMAGES.COM/JULAND www.DistrictAdministration.com open-ended sort of way, because then they have something to write about," Roberts says. It introduces them to the language they might use and the ideas they need to be able to manipulate to write with sophistication, Roberts adds. When students understand that the purpose of writing is to share ideas, they perform better than do students who are asked to write just for the sake of writing. Here's a look at some of the strategies and tools innovative districts have deployed to build teacher competence and to increase students' writing proficiency: An ocean of reasons When Kate Campbell first started as principal of Anna Ware Jackson Elementary School in Plainville School District in Massachusetts, teachers would hand out paper and say "'OK, you're going to write for the next 20 minutes,' and then count that as a writing lesson," she says. "That's not teaching writing." Campbell needed to help her teachers learn to teach writing to improve student proficiency. Teachers and students, for example, need to learn that a strong beginning may include a thought, memory or feeling. "The writing process is such an overwhelming task that you have to really break it down," Campbell says. Campbell introduced Empowering Writers-an approach cre- August 2016 49 http://www.DAmag.me/wave http://www.GETTYIMAGES.COM/HOMETOWNCD http://www.GETTYIMAGES.COM/JULAND

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration August 2016

District Administration August 2016 - Cover1
District Administration August 2016 - Cover2
District Administration August 2016 - 1
District Administration August 2016 - 2
District Administration August 2016 - 3
District Administration August 2016 - 4
District Administration August 2016 - 5
District Administration August 2016 - 6
District Administration August 2016 - 7
District Administration August 2016 - 8
District Administration August 2016 - 9
District Administration August 2016 - 10
District Administration August 2016 - 11
District Administration August 2016 - 12
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District Administration August 2016 - 14
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District Administration August 2016 - Cover3
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