If you get to the end of each term and wonder where the previous 10 weeks went, you're not the only one! If you keep finding yourself making the resolution to be more organised next term, here are some areas you can focus on to help your students and make your life easier.
Plan for students to begin learning from the opening minutes of the lesson.
One of the best ways to maximise your time is to get students into a learning mindset straight away. You can do this by creating a short Hook Exercise that is subject and topic relevant.
Have the activity on the board and students can begin it while you look after administrivia (marking the roll and settling in late students). The activity can be a great way to revise previous lesson’s content or squeeze in vital writing practice.
Introduce a structure for explicitly teaching writing.
When it comes to teaching the skills of writing to demonstrate a cognition, there are four necessary stages.They are:
✎ Deconstructing a text that is an example of the skill
✎ Modelling a text that is an example of the skill
✎ Jointly constructing a text that is an example of the skill
✎ Independently constructing a text that is an example of the skill
This approach to teaching writing that demonstrates a cognition may take several lessons, particularly if the writing skill is a complex one, such as analysing. But sticking to this plan will help your students understand what is being asked of them and what they need to do in their writing.
A bonus for you, as the teacher, is that the final step also serves to provide valuable formative assessment, as it will show you how well your students understand what you have taught. We need to see how our students are going with writing skill development before we actually assess them. It's no good for the student (or the teacher for that matter) to wait for a piece of assessment to be handed in to realise that your class can't justify. You need to find that out three or four weeks before the assessment so you can do something about it.
Use Graphic Organisers.
Finally, one of the best ways you can get better writing is toteach your students to plan their writing tasks. I firmly believe the best way for students to plan their writing is to use a graphic organiser.
These are tools that serve as note-making frameworks in the deconstruction stage, and planning templates in the joint and independent construction stages.
For students, using a graphic organiser will help them organise their thoughts and reduce the cognitive load when it comes to writing their assessment piece. As a teacher, it will help you easily check whether your students are on the right track and have the information they need to commence writing a rough draft. It is almost impossible to correct writing that lacks ideas and structure at the draft stage.
Late last year I updated my best-selling book How to write what you want to say... in the secondary years and created an accompanying Teacher’s Guide and Student Workbook. This set of books makes it easier for teachers to teach the skills of writing for a range of purposes.
The Teacher's Guide explicitly steps out how to teach the writing skills. The Student Workbook offers students opportunities to practise these skills and How to write what you want to say... in the secondary years (2nd edition) is the guide with 25 different writing skills, their meanings, sentence starters and language for connecting ideas.
You can find out more about these books in this video.
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