Today has been both fustrating and rewarding, as I have spent the day grappling with big issues with the Manaiakalani Innovative Teachers. The purpose of the day has been 'design thinking' to think of a prototype that would address the problem that we have identified. We were fortunate enough to spend this time at KPMG with Justine Todd.
My original problem was looking at the connection between Intermediate and High School, as I was concerned that my students were not being adequately prepared to meet the literary demands of college. However, as I explored the problem in greater depth, I realised that this was just one of the affects of the true issue, outlined below.
I then gathered information about this issue by talking to a range of experts in the field and collecting more data. I realised that my students struggle to use academic language and to comprehend the language of learning. This means that they use a lot of colloquial terms in their writing and that it is not very coherent. They are not writing with their audience in mind. Similarly in reading the students struggle to identify the authors purpose for writing and they have not made the connection between reading and writing.
Since identifying these issues I have made the link between reading and writing explicit. My students begin the week by analysing a specific technique in a text, before being asked to apply it to their writing. They critique the text from the perspective of both a reader and writer, looking at the authors purpose and the choices that they made to make the text more effective. While emphasis is placed on a specific technique, I welcome the students to identify aspects of the text that they found effective and I encourage them to note the vocabulary in particular. We then look at this technique in our subsequent reading and writing lessons. While the students are currently responding to the text through writing, I am beginning to ask them to respond through video (via screencastify) so they can articulate their ideas orally and more efficiently.
While my inquiry so far has lead to a change in my practice, my next step is to develop a tool that will address my problem. My initial idea is to create a website that acts as a resource bank for text analysis, containing student generated and established texts that exemplify certain aspects of writing. It could also include examples of the students responses and the writing that was created due to the approach.