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4. Strategy Instruction for Struggling Writers: Revising and Planning

03/06/13, Hershey, PA - Gary Troia
SPEAKER: Gary Troia is an associate professor of special education at Michigan State University, and a principal investigator with the Literacy Achievement Research Center located at MSU.
Dr. Troia is a consulting editor for several scholarly journals, including the Journal of Learning Disabilities and Learning Disability Quarterly.
He's the editor of the book Instruction and Assessment for Struggling Writers: Evidence-based Practices,
and lead co-editor of Putting Writing Research into Practice: Applications for Teacher Professional Development, both published by Gifford Press.
With colleagues Froma Roth and Colleen Worthington, he's authored a phonological awareness intervention program for young, at-risk children,
called Promoting Awareness of Speech Sounds, published by Attainment Company. Along with Jeannine Certo and Natalie Olinghouse,
he is currently developing a genre study resource for classroom teachers titled Growing Writer: Teaching Writing to Students of All Abilities.
He's the principal investigator of a four-year IES funded grant that examines the content of states' writing standards and assessments, the common core writing standards,
and the alignment of standards and assessments with research-based practices, post-secondary expectations, and NAEP writing performance. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Troia.
GARY TROIA: Welcome, everyone. Can you all hear me okay? Great. So I have the opportunity today to speak with you about writing instruction.
And it's a topic near and dear to my heart, as you've heard. I'd like to invite you to ask questions throughout the presentation so that it's more interactive.
And I certainly will try to leave some time at the end for additional questions.
So, and I'm also going to be kind of moving back and forth because I have some additional presentations in PowerPoint that I want to go to that's not in this main presentation.
And you don't have the handouts for those either, so I guess I can send those to PaTTAN and you guys can post them.
So going to see if this works here. So I'm talking about strategy instruction for struggling writers and focusing on revising and planning. And my -- there we go, okay. Wrong button.
Okay. So I always like to start my talks with -- this is going to be difficult, I see. With a couple of jokes or quotes. You know, like an effective lede in a piece of writing.
So Peanuts cartoon, Lucy is talking to Snoopy. You should write a page turner. Write a book that will sweep booksellers off their feet.
You should write a book that is powerful, yet heartwarming. And Snoopy says, I'm having trouble with the first sentence. And so I think that reflects our students
that we're working with, or the teachers that we're working with whose students struggle with writing. This is the experience that they often have.
And another cartoon here. Difficult to see here, but the young college student goes into a professor's office and says, I want to write what I know, but all I know is writing workshops,
which is, of course, the default instructional approach in especially elementary classrooms. And I'm going to talk about writing workshop instruction today and how to,
you know, kind of beef up writing work shop instruction so that it can be more effective for struggling writers in particular.
And then some quotes from famous authors to demonstrate just how difficult even people who are prolific authors find writing. And no wonder students
that we're working with find writing difficult. So George Orwell, Animal Farm, 1984, famous novels. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle,
like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one was not driven on by some demon with whom one can neither resist nor understand.
And then Mary Higgins Clark, she and her sister are prolific mystery novelists. Some of you -- how many of you have read one of the Clark sisters' novels?
So yeah, many people familiar with their work. So this was done -- this is a quote from an interview right after she started writing novels and being very successful.
The first four months of writing the book, my mental image is scratching with my hands through granite. My other image is pushing a train up the mountain, and it's icy, and I'm in bare feet.
So you can imagine that children and youth, when we ask them to write, if this is what authors who are famous and noteworthy and prolific say about writing and the writing process,
you can see why students struggle with writing. And the issue for me that why I focus on writing is that we have a crisis in the U.S. with writing.
If you look at the national assessment of educational progress data, so the 2011 writing assessment data came out a few months ago, 27% of 8th and 12th graders,
and this is on a computer, okay, so the first time NAEP did computerized writing assessment, 27% of students performed at a proficient level or above.
So that means three quarters of students at those grade levels performed below a proficient level.
And if you look backwards in time for the past 20 years, those numbers have not changed.
And it's also this case at 4th grade as well. So about three quarters of students nationally don't do well in writing.
They're not capable of meeting grade level expectations for writing performance in persuasive, narrative, and expository text writing, which are the genres that are assessed by the NAEP.
So I'd say that we have, you know, a serious problem on our hands with writing. And especially when we look at writing and its effects on reading achievement and content area learning.
So if we look at teaching writing and good writing performance, excellent writing instruction and good writing performance actually predicts performance
on reading achievements. And it predicts performance on content area learning.
So writing is pivotal to learning in the classroom. It's usually the one way that we have students demonstrate their understanding of what they've read, of what they've learned
from reading text, of what they've heard in the classroom during lecture, and so forth.
It seems like I just need to be close enough, so I might have to move a bit here.
So you know, kind of continuing on the sobering statistics. So all the bad news I'm going to get out of the way first for you, okay?
40% of high school graduates, high school graduates, lack the literacy skills -- literacy skills that employers seek. And this includes writing.
In fact, we're at a time in our history and society where writing is no longer something that is for the elite in society.
Writing is demanded even in blue collar -- in the blue collar workforce, as well as the white collar and management workforce.
So we're not doing a very good job of preparing students for the demands in post-secondary settings.
This lack of basic skills costs universities, speaking of post-secondary education, and businesses as much as $16 billion annually. Only one out of three 4th graders,
and one out of four 12th graders, is a proficient writer. And again, that's from previous NAEP assessments. I just gave you the 2011 NAEP data.
Less than a third of teachers nationally report spending 90 minutes or more per week teaching writing. And that's according from 1998 NAEP data, a survey of teachers.
If you look at more recent survey data and observational data, that number probably is a high estimate as opposed to a true estimate.
It's probably less than that is spent in writing instruction at the elementary level. We know that's the case for the secondary classroom context.
Students report themselves that they are rarely asked to produce writing over a page in length,
and that most of the writing assignments they get are summaries, worksheets, and short answers. So they're rarely doing composing at the secondary level.
So at a time when we should be ramping up writing expectations and writing instruction to get students ready for the post-secondary environment, either in post-secondary education
or in the workforce, we're actually decreasing the amount of writing instruction that we're doing.
70% of teachers report feeling well-prepared to teach writing, but two thirds of teachers report coursework in their teacher education programs is inadequate.
So where they get most of their professional development and feeling of expertise in teaching and writing is from stuff like this, in-service training.
It's not pre-service training. So colleges of education, we bear responsibility in not preparing teachers to teach writing well.
Okay. Nearly a third of high school graduates are not ready for college level English composition courses.
And so college professors lament the poor writing skills of students who come into their classrooms. And about a third of them rate most of the students as being either fair or poor in writing.
More than half of adults scoring at the lowest literacy levels are dropouts.
So there's a strong correlation between not being a good writer and not being a good reader, and being a dropout, dropping out of school.
And high school teachers, even the language arts teachers, rarely ask students to write texts longer than a paragraph,
and do little, if any, explicit writing instruction. So pretty sad statistics, sad state of affairs.
Let me talk a little bit more about some of the prior research that's been done. There was a report that came out a few years ago that was commissioned by the Carnegie Corporation. Steve Graham,
who by way of disclosure was my advisor when I was a doctoral student at the University of Maryland, he and Delores Perin wrote this report for the Carnegie Corporation called Writing Next.
And it's kind of a parallel report to the Reading Next report.
And basically it's a meta-analysis, so it takes all the quantitative research that's been done, experimental, quasi-experimental research that's been done on writing instruction,
and basically determines how effective are instructional practices in improving students' writing quality. And that's usually the metric that's been used.
And process writing instruction, which is, again, the default in most elementary classrooms, did have a small treatment effect.
Significant, but small treatment effect of an effect size of .32. So .32 means about a third of a standard deviation improvement in performance on let's say a norm-referenced test of writing.
However, the studies that kind of drove that effect size were of lower overall quality than most of the other studies that they looked at.
So the research on process writing instruction is pretty weak. And yet that seems to be the default that we're using in classrooms.
As opposed to, for example, strategy instruction, which has an effect size of .82. So you're talking about eight-tenths of a standard deviation change, improvement,
which tends to be much more explicit and direct and focused on the process and the product. Yes, question?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: What is process writing instruction?
GARY TROIA: Oh, good question. So what's process writing instruction? So what's process writing instruction? So process writing instruction is basically an emphasis
on the process, where you're moving students from the pre-writing phase, planning, to drafting text, to then revising and editing a text,
and then possibly the publication where we're going to share it or publish it in some venue. So it's a focus on the process.
And I'll talk more about the process, but one of the drawbacks to the process approach is that we tend to reify that process and make it very lockstep.
And real writers don't engage in the process in that lockstep. We don't move from we plan, then we draft, then we revise and edit. Those things are recursive and iterative,
and occur multiple times, and inform one another as you move through writing. And so I think it's a good place to start with students in terms of, you know, we move from here to here to here.
But by middle school and high school, students need to understand it's a much more complex process and it really doesn't mirror that kind of lockstep approach. Yes?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: [inaudible]
GARY TROIA: Yeah, most teachers, about 70, 75% of teachers, report that they use a process approach to writing instruction. However, I think this fits with your anecdotal information.
How teachers define the writing process, how they interpret what they think they're doing that constitutes process writing approach, differs drastically from teacher to teacher.
Yeah, so there's a lot of variability. And there is research on that variability. I've done some work in that area, looking at that variability.
I can just tell you that even in a context of strong professional development to help teachers teach the craft of writing and the process approach to writing instruction
really well, teachers still differ quite a bit in their approach. And where the differences are? Classroom management, teach -- student engagement,
and the actual instructional techniques and moves that teachers make, which can, of course, affect whether or not students actually learn how to write better. Yes, another question?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: To go back a little bit, when you talk about pre-services and in-services, why don't colleges get more involved with some pre-service strategies for [inaudible]
to take their students to the next level?
GARY TROIA: I think there are efforts across the U.S. to -- for colleges of education to get involved with that preparation, both in providing in-services for teachers who already are practicing,
but also shoring up, you know, their pre-service preparation, teacher preparation, so that they're helping the teacher candidates become more comfortable with teaching writing.
I just don't think it's consistent. And I know, you know, at MSU, we have two courses, one at the undergraduate level and one at the graduate level, master's degree level,
that are just on writing instruction. But that's not necessarily the case across teacher education institutions. It varies quite a bit.
So you know, again, I think the -- you know, we get -- we kind of want to beat the drum for people to recognize this is something important,
and the colleges of education need to be a partner in changing that. But it's changing, but very slowly and not enough.
Any other questions before I move on? Good, thank you for the questions. I like that. That's very helpful.
So compared with traditional writing instruction, and here when I talk about traditional writing instruction, I'm talking about you give a writing assignment, the student writes,
and then you give feedback. So that, you know, back in the 60s, 70s, even the early 80s, process writing instruction kind of came on the scene in the early 80s. I was in the public schools teaching.
I started in '84, and that's when we started to see process approach to writing instruction kind of come into elementary classrooms. So that's what I mean by the traditional approach.
When you pit the two together, process writing instruction wins out in terms that it does lead to higher quality papers and superior writing achievement on norm-referenced tests of writing,
which is good news. But again, it's -- the process approach, even though it may be the default, it varies quite a bit. And there are problems in the process approach
that I'm going to talk about. Because even in strong process approach writing instruction, so stuff that comes out of teacher's college, for example,
or Lucy Calkins work, okay, there are gaps in that instructional approach that need to be addressed if we're going to help struggling writers.
Which, as I shared, most students are considered struggling writers, three quarters.
Process-based instruction typically has little impact on student writing motivation. And motivation is a big issue in writing because writing is a high effort, high cost activity,
much more so than reading is. And so motivation has to be brought to bear pretty much anytime you're engaged in writing anything substantive.
And this last point addresses what I was saying earlier about the variability.
So we have research that's looked at this variability, and there are a lot of things that influence how teachers think about the process approach: their own knowledge
and ability in writing, their beliefs about teaching and learning, and their experience in the course of the learning context and teaching context that they find themselves in.
And interestingly, okay, so everyone knows about the Matthew effect? Okay. So you hear about the Matthew effect in reading. Well, there's a Matthew effect
in writing also, okay? So that you see that gap between the lowest performing students and the highest performing students widen over time. That's the Matthew effect.
And what we see with the process-based approach to writing instruction like writer's workshop,
which is a particular instantiation of the process approach, what we see is that writer's workshop actually benefits stronger writers and, to some extent, average writers,
but doesn't benefit weak writers. And again, it goes back to what's missing in writer's workshop and the process approach to writing instruction
that explains why we're not able to boost the performance of those lowest performing writers.
So those Matthew effects aren't mitigated by the process-based approach. One reason is that transcription skills,
and here I'm talking about spelling and handwriting in particular, spelling and handwriting accounts for around half of the variability in students' writing quality.
So how well a student can spell the words, and how accurately and quickly they can write
by hand or type on a keyboard, explains a majority of the variance in the writing quality and how good the paper is judged.
Now part of that is due to the rater effects, people actually looking at the writing.
But that's even true when we actually take a piece of writing that's been written by hand and we correct it for errors, for spelling errors, and we type it.
So even when the influence is removed, still the student's ability in spelling and handwriting exerts its influence on how well they can write.
And this is the area that process writing instruction does a very poor job of addressing is explicitly, comprehensively, and in an integrated fashion teaching spelling and handwriting
and other transcription skills like capitalization, punctuation, and so forth.
Second reason process approach doesn't work very well for struggling writers is that a lot of classroom instruction doesn't really
focus on helping students becoming good self-regulators of the writing process and the written product. So we don't develop the capacity in students for actually monitoring their performance,
setting goals for their performance, talking themselves through using self-talk to negotiate the difficulties of writing.
As I shared earlier, even prolific writers find writing difficult. How they manage that is that they encourage themselves.
They set goals for themselves. They monitor their performance towards those goals. And they reinforce themselves when they meet their goals.
So just as an aside story, I think it was Ernest Hemingway,
I might be getting my authors confused, used to set -- go out into his garden at one of his homes in Key West and set pebbles in a circle around one of his garden plots.
And for every -- I think it was every 1,000 words that he wrote, he would kick one of the pebbles away from the circle.
His goal was, by the end of the day, to have kicked all the pebbles away from the circle.
So in that way, he set a goal for himself and he was monitoring his progress towards the goal visually with that strategy. That's what good writers do to regulate the writing process.
And that's one thing that we tend not to attend to very well in process writing instruction. So I'm going to give you some tips on how to do that, how to build that into writing workshop instruction.
Let me talk a little bit before getting onto this slide about goals, okay?
So how many of you are familiar with six traits? Vicki Spandel's work, you know, ideas, content, organization, voice, sentence fluency, word choice, conventions, okay?
And then if you do six plus one, it's publishing or presentation, okay? So it's a language -- I'm going to talk about this a little bit more,
but it's a language, a shared language for talking about the valued attributes of writing. I think it's great instructionally, by the way.
Measurement-wise, it doesn't pan out. But in terms of having instructional conversations with students, it can be very valuable in giving feedback to students.
If we were evaluating students' word choice and we had a six point scale, okay, and they were scoring consistently a two or a three on that scale,
and you wanted to bump them up to the upper half of that scale, so you wanted them to shoot for a four at least on that six point scale on their word choice, well,
that could be a goal. Okay? That's a product goal, okay? But that goal for students is nebulous. Well, how do I get a six in terms of word choice?
So I got to have a way of designing a goal that is more concrete to that qualitative aspect. So I got to have something that's more quantitative that will allow students
to achieve that qualitative goal. Even though it's a product goal, it's very concrete, it's difficult for students to kind of aim for that because they really -- they don't know how to get there.
So what I encourage teachers to do is think about setting these qualitative product goals, but linking quantitative product goals with the qualitative product goal.
So in other words, not only are you working towards getting a four at a minimum on the six point scale for word choice, but you might set a goal of including 15 action helpers, descriptive words,
or transition words per page of text. That is something that students -- that's much more quantitative and concrete that students can work towards to help them achieve that qualitative product goal.
Another example, let's say you wanted to have students increase their idea score, their content score, by two points.
And consistently they basically have impoverished main idea sentences and don't include them, and really don't have much content.
So the quantitative product goal might be to include five main ideas with at least three supporting details in my paper. So do you see where I'm going with this? That I think about the quality,
what aspect of quality I want to have the student improve, but I give them a quantitative mechanism to work towards that's very concrete, something that they can --
they can see in their own writing and shoot for that's going to probably lead to that improvement and qualitative aspect of the writing.
Let's take organization as a problem. And the student needs to improve their organization score.
I'm going to include an initiating event, then two actions, and finally a consequence for, let's say, a story. So if organization is poor,
then actually shooting for the specifics of story grammar in a narrative might be something that's concrete and quantitative that would lead to a qualitative improvement.
Then, of course, we also have process goals. So you can set product goals. And again, we're linking qualitative and quantitative product goals.
But you can all set process goals for students. So a process goal might be I am going to complete my planning sheet or graphic organizer using words or short phrases.
Does anyone have any idea why that would be important to complete a graphic organizer or a plan for writing just using single words or short phrases?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: [inaudible]
GARY TROIA: It does, okay, so that plan is going to give you a guideline to fall back on when you're stuck, when you're having trouble remembering what to include in your writing. Absolutely. Yes?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I just was going to say can you please repeat whatever people are saying, especially when they ask questions? Because we can't really hear them.
GARY TROIA: Sure. So she asked -- yes, I think I answered by default. Any other ideas? What do students typically -- sorry, go ahead.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: [inaudible] just give them triggers.
GARY TROIA: Yes, yes, good. She said they -- so they don't get hung up on the process of planning. They just have triggers. And that's the word I was looking for.
Plans are supposed to serve as mental triggers. That's all. And so you -- once you help students not produce a first draft when they're planning,
which is typically what students will do, right? You've all seen this. They -- their plan is basically something that turns into the first draft.
To circumvent that, to discourage that, I have students use just single words or short phrases when they produce any kind of plan, whether or not it's an outline
or they're producing a graphic organizer. I'm going to show you some graphic organizers later. That basically discourages doing a brain dump on paper for the plan.
And again, because the plan should just be an external representation of the mental ideas that are stored in long-term memory.
And it should just serve as a trigger for those mental representations. And so single words and short phrases can trigger that information.
And it makes that process go by much more smoothly. And then when you ask students to plan more or to go back and revise their plans,
they're not so wedded to what they originally wrote because they didn't draft, they just produced a quick plan that doesn't have a lot of text.
Here's another process goal. Revise at least twice, once with a checklist and once with a peer. Okay? So that could be a process goal that you would have a student set for themselves.
And you see goals could be individualized for students. This is where you can do individualized instruction even in a whole class is by individualizing these goals.
and then later, I'm going to show you how you individualize through self-talk statements, which is another aspect of self-regulation.
Another process goal, include -- I'm sorry, use the spellchecker plus backward read aloud to correct spelling mistakes.
Why do you think I said something about backward read aloud? First of all, does everyone know what that means?
Okay, so it's a real easy technique. So our brains naturally are going to filter information when we're reading text that we've generated and basically correct, autocorrect.
We don't want that when we're looking at spelling and other aspects of editing. We want the language and the mechanics to be divorced from each other.
So to do that, if I was going to edit with backward read aloud this last bullet here, I would do this. Tactics revising and planning, eg strategies. That's backward read aloud.
I'm reading it out loud and I'm reading it backwards because if I did forward reading, my filter would kick in and I wouldn't catch a lot of mistakes. That automatically makes you focus on each word.
The other reason that I'm adding the backward read aloud to spellcheckers is that for poor writers, a spellchecker catches only about a third of their spelling mistakes
because most of the spelling mistakes that they make are going to be so egregious, the spellchecker has no clue what the error is and just puts a little squiggly line under it,
which is no help to students other than to say there's an error here. Okay?
So and we could use other technology. So you can use -- obviously we can use speech to text, so speech recognition software so students can dictate, you know, like Dragon Naturally Speaking.
That helps, of course, with the mechanics of writing. We can use speech synthesis software, where we have the text read aloud back to us. That also is going to help with catching errors.
And of course, word prediction software, which is, you know, when you do a google search, that list that comes up, that's word prediction.
It's predicting based on what you've typed so far and it's limiting, delimiting your choices based on the word prediction algorithm.
So all those things combined really can help students overcome these transcription difficulties. And so I would encourage you to think broadly when thinking about technology,
not just what's commonly available. Even nowadays, speech recognition and speech synthesis is commonly available in any kind of software platform for word processing. Yes?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: [inaudible]
GARY TROIA: Absolutely. So she's saying that you could have students do the backward reading sentence by sentence.
And the same idea applies is that you are divorcing the language filtering that takes place, but at a larger text level, okay?
Rather than word level, sentence level, so that there they can focus sentence by sentence and how that sentence reads, and whether or not it's punctuated correctly and so forth. Yeah.
Let me talk about self-talk statements. So another big aspect of self-regulation that's not included in process writing instruction usually.
Rich history from cognitive psychology. In fact, you know, psychologists use this technique for people with a variety of presenting problems, some psychiatric disorders,
as well as just kind of, you know, everyday problems that people might visit a psychologist or a therapist for.
Thought stopping. So if you have like OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, thought stopping is a technique that a therapist might teach you.
And basically it's self-talk. You're basically telling yourself to stop thinking about something because that's the obsession part of obsessive compulsive disorder.
And so borrowing on cognitive psychology literature, we can actually use self-talk as a way of helping students cope with the difficulties inherent in writing.
Writing is the most difficult thing we ask our kids to do. It is the most difficult, much harder than reading because your knowledge has to be crystal clear,
and your language skills have to be highly developed to communicate in writing effectively.
Reading the text is there, okay? I mean, it sets parameters on how you're going to interpret. Of course you're bringing your background knowledge and your interpretive lens to it,
but writing, it's an ill-defined problem space because you don't know what you're going to get until you're there. So writing is a lot harder.
So this motivational kind of aspect in addressing that through self-regulation is so important because it allows students to cope with the difficulties of writing.
It allows them to motivate themselves. It allows them to manage the process more effectively.
So let me tell you some examples of self-talk statements I've actually used with students in working with them on their writing.
So the definition is that a self-talk -- self-talk is statements, questions, exhortations to the self to cope with negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated with writing.
So some example. I will use my strategy to be successful.
So students have been taught like a planning strategy, actually saying to themselves, I'm going to use that strategy to help me be successful, can actually help them improve their writing.
This is hard, but I can do it if I try. So again, that effort attribution. That's a big aspect of self-efficacy beliefs. Whether or not I think I can do something is really important.
So I have to coach myself into thinking that I can do this. It might be hard, but yes, I can do it. And I need to concentrate here so I don't get distracted.
So those are just a few examples of self-talk statements to manage attentional difficulties, motivational difficulties, lack of strategy use,
the things that typically trip up students when we want them to do good writing. Questions?
Okay, so let's talk about effective writing instruction, some general attributes of effective writing instruction.
And so I'm going to kind of unpack each of these a little bit for you here. A predictable routine. So students need to know what's expected of them.
And part of knowing the expectations is having a routine that you can rely on to help you move through the writing process and move through writing projects that you're trying to get accomplished.
So we want students to become comfortable with the process through this predictable routine. And it should be a routine that occurs over a protracted period of time.
So one of the problems in process approach to writing instruction is I see teachers often, you know, we plan on Monday, draft on Tuesday, revise and edit on Wednesday,
and then publish on Thursday, and then maybe celebrate on Friday.
Well, you know, I can tell you -- I don't know how many of you out there write for avocation or vocation. I write obviously because it's my job.
I can tell you that's not how writing works. You don't -- you don't move the writing process that way. It just doesn't work that way. And sometimes it's going to take a lot longer.
You know, if you're going to write something that's worthwhile for you and for your reader, it can take weeks to write something that's good.
Now that doesn't mean that you can't kind of combine that with shorter writing exercises that improve skills and strategies and knowledge in combination with these longer projects.
I think there should be a combination of those things.
But if we really want students to feel comfortable with that process, it has to take place over a longer period of time than just a week. That's just not enough.
And students need to feel comfortable with moving at their own rate through that process, which is difficult for classroom teachers.
They find that challenging because you're trying to, you know, help keep students all on the same track.
Well, part of what you do there to manage that is that you have students working on multiple writing projects simultaneously so that they have different pieces
in different phases of the writing process.
And if you're working on revising something, they can pull what they're working
on that needs to be revised out of the writing folder and work on that piece so that not everyone has to work on the same thing at the same time.
You could have multiple things. And that really is the workshop nature of writing workshop. That's what it should look like. Yes? Yeah, devil's advocate.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Your two comments about it could take weeks, it should take longer than that typical, traditional process of writing, that contradicts everything on [inaudible]
GARY TROIA: Okay, so let me tell you something about a state assessment. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know this, yes.
So the issue is state assessment, you don't have weeks. You got 60 minutes, 90 minutes, whatever. You know, states vary in how much time they allot.
And states vary on whether or not they allow the process or not. Some states basically the student -- the draft is assessed. That's it.
They don't have time to take a piece of writing through the process. Some states, you know, might do over two or three days, where students are expected to engage in the process.
And I don't remember in Pennsylvania what you guys do. We've actually collected Pennsylvania's writing assessments because that's what we're looking at in this grant that I have.
But what I encourage teachers to do is to treat the assessment writing as a genre. And you can actually -- I've taught teachers a strategy and students a strategy for actually planning,
at least a planning strategy, for state assessments so that they can dissect the prompt, identify what are the major components that the prompt is looking for,
and then do a brief kind of column plan where they're just writing short single words or short phrases to address each of those components of the prompt,
and then circling the ones that they think they can elaborate on, and then going for it.
And so basically you can teach them, even with -- and that takes just a few minutes.
But it helps organize their thinking so that they're not completely lost. And most importantly, it helps them read that prompt more carefully,
which is often why they might score low is they don't read the prompt and they're not addressing it. And that's why they're not going to score well.
So we actually treat prompts -- prompted writing in an assessment context as a separate genre that you study because it has its own particular parameters.
And for example, you're not writing for an authentic audience in that context.
We teach students you're -- unless the prompt says you're writing a letter to your principal, then you identify your principal as the recipient, the reader, your audience.
We teach students you are writing something to the assessor. That's who you're writing to, is the person who's scoring this. You know, you just have that frank conversation with students.
This is -- you know, this is a very specialized writing context, and we're going to treat it differently than we do other kinds of writing.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: [inaudible]
GARY TROIA: You know, I'm doing work on the common core. We've looked at the common core writing standards and how they align with evidence-based practices.
By the way, common core of 28 evidence-based practices from the writing instruction literature, common core at best hits half of them.
And we're also looking at states' prior writing standards and their alignment with common core.
And I'll just follow up with that. Most states think that their prior standards in writing and language are well-aligned to common core.
This is the conversation we consistently have with state department of education folks. Our research is finding no, way off. Great degrees in misalignment between common core and what states had
before adopting common core. And in some cases, states are taking a step up by adopting common core, and in some cases they're taking a big step down by adopting common core.
So I forgot that was a tangent. So I forgot my main point I was trying to make. What's your question again? Yes, yes, so -- right, thank you.
So the issue is that assessments -- you know, standards drive instruction. There's research that shows that standards to drive instruction.
But assessments are a much bigger driver of instruction, right? Because that's where the accountability arm is, is on the assessment side. It's not on the standards side.
So and standards are pretty broad and hopefully comprehensive. But the assessment by nature can only sample some of the standards. You can't assess every single standard that you have in an area.
So assessments by nature narrow the instruction because they're only sampling a small part of the body of standards that you are trying to teach to.
And because the accountability resides in the assessments, and therefore hold more importance for teachers, that is going to narrow instruction.
And there's a great book on this that George Hillocks wrote in 2002 called The Testing Trap, where he looked at states' writing assessments
and its impact on teaching and learning and writing. And that's basically what he found, that state assessments do narrow the instruction,
and therefore probably, you know, may decrease the amount of writing or different types of writing that students are doing and the quality of writing instruction.
However, I have to say that, you know, the NAEP data have been pretty steady for the past two decades, so this is before No Child Left Behind. You know, we still had this problem.
So this predictable routine. And so there are two routines we have to think about. We have to think about our lesson routine,
what's our daily routine look like? And then we have to think about, how does a routine in terms of covering the curriculum and writing look?
And students need to feel comfortable with both of those routines. So the daily lesson routine, which I'm going to talk more about in a little bit, but also that curriculum coverage routine.
And genre study is an approach -- is the approach that I advocate for curriculum coverage. In the absence -- you know, you all know this.
We don't have good curriculum materials in writing. You know, the ones that we have have plenty of gaps in them and really don't cover.
And look, if you're looking at Lucy Calkins' units of study in elementary classrooms and common core, there's misalignments there because Lucy Calkins calls for poetry writing.
There's nothing in common core about poetry. And calls for some things in writing for -- in terms of genres to come later than common core does.
Common core expects expository and persuasive writing in kindergarten. And Lucy Calkins is not covering that until later on.
So you know, the materials that we have in writing are really inadequate, in my opinion.
And so we have to think about, you know, what does this routine look like? So let me talk a little bit about genre study routine.
And I have to pull this up on my phone because I don't want to go over there and pull up a different PowerPoint.
So I'm just going to give you just kind of a flavor of what a genre study routine might be for informational writing, okay?
Which cuts across grades in the common core. So -- and I'm a gardener. I'm an avid gardener, so I kind of view it in terms of gardening.
I think about the first phase of genre study, which is the immersion phase, as like planting the seed or the bulb, and nurturing it.
And so in expository or informational writing, we want to teach students the differences between narration and exposition so there's a clear contrast between those.
Because students typically -- you know, there's an over-usage of narrative in elementary school classrooms.
They're ubiquitous and there's not enough attention to persuasive discourse and informational discourse in elementary classrooms.
I think that's changing, but there have been recent studies that have looked at how much informational text, for example, how much time do students spend on informational text.
Nell Dupe did a study back a few years ago, 3.4 minutes a day. That's reading and writing informational text in early elementary classrooms.
So there's this, you know, ubiquitousness of narrative and a dearth of informational text. So teaching the differences between them.
Introducing expository text structure. What does that text structure look like? Find -- teachers finding, sorting,
and reading short expository text exemplars to -- and having students examine those touchstone texts to try to get a sense of what the structure is.
So a more inductive approach to figuring out, what does expository text structure, informational text structure look like?
Students create an expert list in their writing notebooks, what I know about, so that they're generating things that they have some expertise on that might be used for a writing project.
Or maybe identifying three or four guiding questions in a few topics -- about a few topics of interest that they could collect information about from maybe more knowledgeable others.
Teachers would then introduce the genre focus. So here's where you more at a fine grain level, you're talking about expository informational text structure, but there are many different kinds
of writing that fit under that structure. So in this example, feature articles could be an example of an expository text structure
that might be the focus of genre student. For younger students, you know, kindergarten, 1st grade, maybe a how-to book might be appropriate.
Students would then read exemplary feature articles from student-relevant materials like Time for Kids, Ranger Rick, Children's Digest, National Geographic Kids,
Sports Illustrated for Kids. I mean, there's tons of informational text that's written for kids out there.
And then a class would create a chart listing the key elements of a feature article. You know, so some additional information
that you'd want to see on that list would be the use of visual displays of information like tables and figures, captions for those tables and figures, maybe marginal glosses for key vocabulary.
So those are things, those are features, informational features and informational text that are unique to that kind of text that we'd want students to learn about.
Then, you know, that might take a couple weeks to go through that initial immersion stage.
And then another couple weeks might be on planning, growing that seed or bulb that you've planted. So students identify an actual seed idea
that they're going to work on and develop, doing interviews with partners to see how partners might react to what they're thinking about writing, and getting feedback on that.
We might use a double column entry notebook for students to ask questions and get answers to those questions, or record facts from informational pieces that they're reading.
Record responses to key questions in the writing notebook. How did you learn about this? Why is this important to you? Why do other people need to learn about this?
What are special things about this you want to share? So we're focusing them on what they might include in their writing.
The teacher would introduce key vocabulary for expository writing.
For example, those transition words that students often struggle with in that kind of writing: first, then, finally, in conclusion, therefore, so, however, in contrast.
You know these are words that kids often struggle with, the vocabulary that's so critical to basically linking sentences within paragraphs and linking across paragraphs.
This is the cohesion aspect of the writing that they struggle with. So actually, explicitly teaching that vocabulary.
Teacher would introduce, examine, and demonstrate how to use various ledes for a feature article. For example, a question, a mini-story, a quotation,
an astonishing fact. So again, even though it's informational writing, we don't want it to be dry. It should draw the reader in.
And then students might plan the paper using a planning sheet like a graphic organizer. And I'm going to show you an example of one that you could use.
And then the next week might be drafting to continue to grow that seed. So they're going to continue the plan, and then they might engage in what's called flash drafting.
Anyone know what flash drafting is? So again, the issue with struggling writers in particular, and I'd even say most writers, I have graduates students
that do this, you get something down on paper and then someone asks you to go back and basically tear it apart and revise it considerably. You're not so motivated to do that, right?
Flash drafting basically is when you -- well, you can do a couple things.
You can allot a particular amount of space or a particular amount of time for drafting a segment of text, and then reworking and retooling, revisement, editing that segment.
And then going onto another segment and flash drafting that segment, and revising and retooling and editing that segment. And then starting to put the segments together.
And that actually approximates how real writing actually looks.
I don't know about you, but I don't sit down and write a paper from beginning to end. I take it in chunks. And I might start at the end or in the middle,
or maybe at the beginning, but I certainly am not going from beginning to end in a unidirectional manner. And so flash drafting kind of frees up students.
And because you're only drafting a little bit of text at a time, they don't feel so wedded to that text. And then when we ask them to basically scrap it and start over again,
they're not like -- they're like, uh uh, not having any of that. They still might have that attitude. It doesn't guarantee they're not going to, but it's less likely because they're not so invested.
They haven't put their blood, sweat, and tears into this lengthy paper. There's just a little bit of text that they've generated.
So then they would go on to revising, which I consider like pruning and grafting, right? You take away the stuff
that doesn't work, the dead limbs, you know, the dead branches. And you might even have to graft in, add in some new parts.
And so, you know, here we're helping students identify and cut irrelevant information and help students add additional details to the thin areas of their writing.
Perhaps in feedback, we might use carrots or numbered notes to help kind of point them to places that need elaboration.
Modeling and helping them zoom in on unique or particularly important facts and helping them flesh that out. And then making sure that students incorporate for a basic feature article,
which would be the focus of this particular genre study, elements like a title, subtitle, byline, subheadings, and quotations.
And then revising a minimum of three times, first independently, then with a peer, and then with the teacher.
So I, basically every classroom I go into, I tell the teachers and we work together to establish a routine where there's a minimum
of three passes at a paper of anything substantive. I mean, obviously if you're just writing some notes, you're not going to worry about revising it three times.
But something that's going to be published, it should have at least three passes independently with like a revising checklist, editing checklist, then with a peer,
with a peer editing strategy, and then with the teacher during a conferencing session. Question?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Can you make this PowerPoint that you're reading from available to us?
GARY TROIA: Yes, I'd be happy. The question was, can I make my genre study routine -- so basically I have a routine for exposition, a routine for narration,
and a routine for poetry. I'll just send all those so you have those.
And then, you know, we'd want students to edit, so that's the additional kind of, you know, pruning and grafting.
So we might model for the students how to use an editing checklist and then have them edit it a minimum of two times, first independently and then with a peer.
So that by the time the paper gets turned in, a lot of eyes have seen it and it's had multiple passes. Yes?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: What distinction do you make between editing and revising?
GARY TROIA: The question was, what distinction do I make between editing and revising? Well, editing is usually reserved for the mechanics of writing.
So you're dealing with lower level transcription issues that might emerge, so correcting spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, punctuation, capitalization, and so forth.
Whereas revising is you're changing the content of the writing. So you're changing the order of ideas. You're fleshing out ideas, adding additional details.
You know, kind of word choice changes I really consider more editing than revising because usually they're very superficial. It's the thing that students tend to gravitate towards.
You give students the task of revising and editing, they turn it usually into an editing session, right? They're basically looking at the mechanics of writing and trying to catch some mistakes.
And usually they're adding new ones in as they're rewriting. So again, we'll talk about how to circumvent some of those issues.
But that's how I would distinguish it. But in reality, both of these things typically occur simultaneously. Yeah.
And then, you know, the last part of the genre study might be the celebration. So if you've taken all this time to grow this wonderful rose, for example, or [inaudible]
or whatever you're into, you might want to share it with the public and have people celebrate with you. And so that might be the last part of the genre study is the sharing and the celebration.
So okay, so that took a long time just to go through that first bullet there. So let me see, how am I doing on time? Okay. I want to make sure I'm monitoring myself well to manage my time.
A focus on authentic writing tasks and meaningful writing experiences for personal and collective. I think writing is done too much in isolation in most of the classrooms I've visited.
I see way too many writing exercises where students are writing by themselves. I'd like to see a lot more planning for writing together, collaboratively, writing papers together.
I mean actually writing group papers. Revising and editing together, as well as independent writing activities.
So personal, collective, expression, reflection, inquiry, discovery, and social change. Those are the main reasons why we write.
It's to reinforce what we know. Writing actually changes your understanding of topics through the process of writing, and can have impact, social impact.
And that's what we want. We want students to realize the power behind writing, right? That it has this force behind it.
And we're only going to do that if we give them writing activities that actually have some meaning and have authentic audiences. Yes?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Doesn't the collective writing just end up with the good writers doing all the bulk of the work, and the other kids just kind of sitting there?
GARY TROIA: That's a great question. Does the -- so the issue is, doesn't the group writing end up with the good writer basically doing all the work?
I think that's where, you know, kind of beforehand you set the stage
by assigning roles and modeling what those group roles look like, and practicing them prior to actually asking students to get together.
So obviously if you ask students to get together and write a paper, it's going to fall flat on its face. They need that kind of pre-instruction in how do you work as a group when you're working
on writing. And then the roles can be individually tailored to capitalize on the strengths of the individuals in the group, right? So that's another way you can individualize instruction,
individualize through, you know, what roles students play in group writing activities, and the goals that students set for themselves, and the self statements that they use for self-regulation. Yes?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: When you talk about roles, what types of roles would you give to students writing?
GARY TROIA: Okay, so you could have a student who basically serves a group editor, okay?
So a student who's really good at catching and correcting errors and mechanics could serve as the group editor. You could have a student who
is really great at taking notes and transcribing quickly to be the recorder, to be the person who actually does the writing, gets the stuff down on paper.
You can have another member be kind of the manager of the group, who makes sure that the group is following the procedures and going through the writing process using the process effectively.
So those are some, you know, some ideas about how you -- what kind of roles you might assign to students.
You might have a role for, if it's a paper that's relying on information that's being read or listened to, that that is a student who's responsible for the note-taking
and the sharing of that information, and leading the discussion about those ideas. And then someone else might have to put that into language that can be used in the piece of writing, so forth.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: [inaudible]
GARY TROIA: You could. You could. That doesn't necessarily capitalize on the individual's strengths in the same way, but you certainly could parse that out.
The idea was you could maybe assign roles based on the part of the paper. So yeah, that would be another way to do that. Question in the back?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Well, I took your comment to be more writing with the teacher, which I found to be very effective when you first said writing together.
Because I think that teachers, at least teachers don't do enough modeling of writing. We set it up, we say here's what we need, here's what we want to see in the rubrics,
but we don't do enough modeling and writing together. Not where just the teacher's writing what kids tell them, but also the child -- the kids are all writing it at the same time.
GARY TROIA: Yeah. And really at this point, I'm talking about collaborative writing among peers, but your point is well taken. The idea that teachers should be modeling the writing process
and writing mechanics and strategies for their students, and writing with the students, I totally agree with that. That's another bullet point.
But the idea is that -- and this, you know, presses up against an issue with teachers.
I bet I could ask every one of you in here whether or not you consider yourself a good reader. And I would bet virtually everyone would raise their hand.
But if I asked how many of you consider yourselves a good writer, I wouldn't see as many hands go up. And that's a -- that's a primary problem in writing instruction.
So if you're teaching reading, every one of us reads and probably has read well, or otherwise we wouldn't have a degree and wouldn't have certification in teaching.
So we can rely on those strategies that are in our background and our knowledge about reading to bring to bear in our instruction.
But if you're not a writer, right, you don't do much writing, what are you relying on as far as personal experience and knowledge of strategies?
That's a huge issue in writing instruction, and it's a big hurdle for teachers to overcome. And it's why we have, for example, the National Writing Project,
which one of its core premises is that teachers need to view themselves first and foremost as writers,
and then capitalize on that knowledge and experience as a writer in the institutes that they run, and bring that into the classroom.
So I think to be effective in modeling the writing process, look, you've got to feel uncomfortable. I mean, I've done poetry units with students and memoir and stuff like that.
And I'm not a poet and I'm certainly not a fictional writer, or I don't write personal narrative very often. So you have to step outside your comfort zone to do this stuff.
But I think it really helps if you're in professional development that really helps you explore that side of yourself, or those skills and strategies.
And you're in a group of teachers that actually are willing to support you and support one another in making that venture.
That's very important. So I think that professional development, that aspect of professional development, is really important.
So you know, some ways to accomplish this authentic writing for meaningful audiences is, you know, grade level newspapers, class blogs, diaries and journals, dialogic process notes like, you know,
the double sided or triple column journals, where students are, you know, quoting and then commenting and then reflecting. Class anthologies.
So there are plenty of ways to make writing much more meaningful and important to students, and to give them the opportunity to actually write for real audiences.
Because I can tell you right now, they don't view you as a real audience. They don't. And the reason I know this is that I've seen, which is another bullet later,
I've seen authors come into classrooms and work with teachers and students. And students respond very differently to who they view as a real author.
The feedback that the authors will give to students when they're doing like -- you know, like we've had writers in residence at schools that I've been in,
where an author from the community will come in and spend weeks in the classroom and basically teach a unit of study for students.
I highly recommend that practice because it's a good model for you as a teacher as well as for the students. Students respond very differently to an author.
And authors have a very different perspective on writing because they are not beholden to state standards or state assessments.
They think the stuff that we do in the classroom is not very good, generally. That's their opinion. Because it doesn't approximate what real writing looks like. And it's usually inauthentic.
So I would highly encourage you, if you can, to get a community author to come into your classroom and at least talk with the students about their craft of writing.
Because I think it gets students excited about writing, and it also gives them a model of, you know, this is something that could be a vocation, you know, for some people.
Not everyone can become a writer for a profession, but some people do. It's something to aspire to.
And I just think their views, an author's views on writing, are important for students to have a window into, as well as teachers.
And so they tend to elicit from students much more genuine writing and powerful writing I think than we can.
Because they don't view us as teachers as a real audience, often because we're giving them feedback that is graded, and that tends to throw a hurdle before them.
That's why I encourage teachers, don't definitely -- I don't care if it's a secondary classroom, elementary classroom. Do not grade every writing assignment.
It's way too much wasted time on grading, it's not necessary to get a handle on what students are capable of doing,
and it basically communicates to students that your writing is continually under the microscope. And that's not why most people write.
I talked about the common language in terms of traits for giving feedback to students. And let me just say again,
from an instructional standpoint in terms of giving feedback on specific qualities of writing, of course you would never give feedback on all the traits simultaneously on any given piece of writing.
So I've seen these materials where it's like a little post-it that has all the traits listed. And then it has, you know, you can write in the score for each trait. And I've seen teachers doing that.
How defeating for a student when they see, you know, a bunch of twos on a six point scale across the board,
when really maybe instructionally, you've focused on one or maybe two traits at most to focus on in that piece of writing. And that's what you should be giving feedback on.
From a measurement perspective, what several studies have found now, including some work I've done, is that the traits all collapse on one trait.
So although we talk about six traits, basically students who score high on one trait score high on all the traits.
Like there's a halo effect. And students who score low on a trait score low on all the other traits. I call that the pitchfork effect.
So it's -- you know, it really doesn't pan out from a measurement perspective when measuring writing quality that you actually can separate these traits.
But I think instructionally, it's good language to use.
And then lastly on this slide, lessons designed to help students master the craft elements of writing.
So for example, text structure, character development, specific writing skills like spelling and punctuation, and process strategies: planning and revising tactics.
Procedural supports like conferences, and planning forms and charts, and checklists for revising and editing, and computer tools for removing transcription barriers.
I've mentioned a number of these things, and I'm going to show you more specifically planning forms and checklists a little bit later. And you have examples of those in your handout.
A sense of community, where teachers and students feel that risks in writing are supported, that we don't criticize one another personally in the writing,
but we give critique about writing and the effectiveness of the communication. Children and teachers are viewed as writers, first and foremost.
That means that when we assign students writing, we're writing along with them.
Personal ownership is expected. So students take -- you know, they put their personal spin on writing assignments. I think it's fine to give a writing assignment or give prompts,
but I think we need to let students feel the freedom, as long as it meets the general parameters of what we're trying to accomplish instructionally, to deviate from those assignments and take control.
That little bit of feeling of control, like even giving a menu of things that you can do for a writing assignment and having students -- allowing them to pick from that menu.
Even though it's just really the illusion of control because we're still, you know, basically in control ourselves as teachers,
it really creates that sense of power among the students, and therefore improves motivation for writing.
And then that collaboration is a cornerstone. All these things are a cornerstone of the writing program. And then, of course, integration of writing with reading instruction.
So far too often we see, you know, reading instruction and writing instruction completely separate, the texts that we're using completely different.
Students should be reading what they're writing and writing about what they're reading. And they should be doing this not just in English language arts, but of course the content areas.
So in every single classroom, math, social studies, science, there should be writing occurring, even if it's just taking notes, doing summaries, doing reflective journals like process journals.
You know, this is what I learned in math today. This is why I know it. This is what I think are my challenges. That's what I mean by like a process journal.
Almost done with this part here. A cadre -- come on. A cadre of trained volunteers.
So as you all know, if you have -- if you're an elementary classroom and you have 20, 30 students, if you're a secondary teacher and you have 150 students, you know,
in a day, then you know feedback, giving good quality feedback to students about their writing, meeting with students in conferences for planning, revising, editing really takes up a lot of time.
And so having trained volunteers come into the classroom and assist with conferencing and giving feedback to students is really very valuable.
And yes, there's a big investment up front in training because you can't just have like parents come in and work with students.
That's not going to work very well. I mean, because you're asking people who virtually know nothing probably about writing to provide writing instruction.
So they have to be well trained. But they can encourage, coach, and celebrate children's writing along with them. And it basically, you know, allows you to give more feedback simultaneously,
and potentially individualize instruction. So I think this is also another very important aspect of a writing workshop or process-based approach to writing instruction.
I talked about the resident writers already. And then lastly, opportunities for teachers themselves to upgrade and expand their own conceptions of writing, the writing process,
and how children learn to write, primarily through professional development. But also through being an active member of a writing community.
And again, I talked about the National Writing Project. And every state has affiliates of the National Writing Project. Questions before I move on? Yes?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: As a parent -- excuse me, as a parent who probably virtually knows nothing about writing who loves to support my kid, that's why I'm in this workshop.
So how can I do that effectively? Do I ask the teacher what the model is and try to do that at home?
GARY TROIA: Great question. Great question. So the question is, you know, how do I as a parent support what the teacher's trying to accomplish in the writing classroom at home,
or even in the classroom? I think what you're doing here by sitting in on professional development, that would be one of my recommendations.
I think a lot of professional development we do at schools needs to be open to communities, not just to instructional staff. So I would open up professional development
with the acknowledgement that professional development is going to have to be geared towards different levels of expertise and knowledge if you're going to do that.
But also I think that strong communication, which is I have it as one of my bullets someplace, in terms of teachers talking regularly with families about the writing program,
the writing instruction, what they're working on, what their expectations are, where students should be in the writing process, when are due dates.
Yeah, that consistent communication about what's going on I think is vitally important for parents to be able to help in some ways.
And then, you know, I talked about these more smaller writing projects, mini writing projects. Those are often things that you might send home with students.
Now of course, my view on homework is that homework should be something that students can accomplish with minimal assistance from parents.
It should be something they already know how to do; they're just practicing. Rather than expecting the parents to basically teach the kids.
Because, again, we're asking the people that don't have the expertise and knowledge to do the heavy lifting, and that's not appropriate. Yeah?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: [inaudible] But I was not given any -- I wasn't told how I can assist them [inaudible].
GARY TROIA: Yeah, I do have a -- I do have a list of writing resources on the Internet that I'll also send and we can post.
Yeah, some of which I think would be very family-friendly kinds of things, not written necessarily for a professional audience. Yeah.
So this -- again, kind of harping on writing workshop and this routine. So thinking about student work, okay, what are the things we want to focus in on student work?
Students have frequent opportunities for sharing their writing, for regulating the writing behaviors and the writing environment, and their use of resources.
So again, that self-control so that they feel empowered, writing feels important to them, that it has consequences, that it has weight, and that they have control over it.
That there's daily writing, even if it's not spending an hour in writing instruction and practice.
But there needs to be daily writing occurring across the curriculum. And that writing should take place both in school and out of school.
And again, this multiple authentic audiences and purposes and wide range of task so that students are not just working on one thing at a time,
but they're balancing multiple projects simultaneously. Because again, in real life, that's what you're doing. I mean, how many of us have to juggle multiple balls
in the air, many of which have writing components to them? So that's the real nature of writing. And we want students to be apprenticed in thinking that way about writing.
Well, you might have the genre study going on, and then you might have students keeping journals. And then you might have students doing mini writing assignments
that are content area focused that they might record in a writing notebook or a separate kind of content area journal. Yeah, yeah.
Again, the freedom for students to select their own kind of interpretations of writing assignments. I think it's important that they work at their own pace.
Students present their work in progress, as well as completed papers. So you know, I often see that the sharing at the end of writer's workshop,
where the students basically share what they've written. But the sharing could be of their ideas for writing, or something that's only been partially completed, so that they can get feedback.
Because that's what you do as a writer. You don't wait until you're all done and then, you know, ask someone to give you some feedback on it necessarily.
You share your ideas about what you're going to write and get input at the beginning so that it helps shape your writing as you're going.
And then prominent displays of writing. So I'll just give you an anecdote of an experience I had that was pretty depressing. I was working in a school and under, you know, accountability issues.
The principal had decided that only papers that met or exceeded standard in terms of scoring could be published, in other words posted on the bulletin boards in the classroom or at the school.
What kind of message do you think that sends to students? It means basically if you're not good enough, you're not valuable. That's problematic.
So I think every student needs to have an opportunity to have their work published.
How am I doing on time here? Oh, I got to move fast, fast, fast. Okay, let's see, because I want to get through. I'm going to skip to these next two slides because you have them,
and basically I didn't want to add too much to them. And I'm going to go to revising. Because I'm going to get to the actual strategies, okay?
So let me say a little bit about revising, because this is probably -- in my opinion, it's not planning, it's revising that separates good writers from poor writers.
Good writers always revise, and they revise multiple times. I can't remember who the famous author is, but a famous novelist was quoted as saying he revised every page of text a minimum of ten times.
So good writers consistently, we always see this in even studies among kids that are good writers, they revise multiple times.
Planning is something that's more task and person-specific. So for example, I don't plan before I write like a book chapter or an article. I have mental plans, but I don't actually write a plan out.
So planning is very task-specific and person-specific, but revising, if you're a good writer, you always revise. Always, always, always. So that's why I start off with revising.
So what is revising? It's re-seeing, revision, okay? Re-seeing goals, ideas, and text. It's not just revising the text.
It's also revising your goals for writing, what is it that you want to accomplish in your writing,
what impact do you want it to have, and for who are you writing it for, for whom are you writing it for.
And the ideas that you're mulling around that you might want to include in your writing, those plans are up for revision.
It's perhaps the most difficult aspect of -- or challenging aspect of composition because it places a premium on self-regulation and meta-cognition.
So thinking about what you're doing and monitoring it is part and parcel with being a good reviser.
Revising is dissonance -- cognitive dissonance location and resolution. And Jill Fitzgerald writes about this. Dissonance between what your intentions are as an author
and your beliefs as an author, as a reader and the reader's goals, and what the text actually says. So whenever you come across a moment of dissonance when you're looking at a text,
that means that there's some kind of revision that needs to take place. And so it's the resolution that needs to happen that actually results in the revision.
And revision can take place at the micro level or the macro level. So we can make those minute kind of changes, you know,
at the individual words and phrases and sentences, but those larger kind of changes to the theme, the level of detail, the ordering of ideas, and so forth.
And unfortunately, focusing on both the micro level and the macro level can actually short-circuit one another. So if you are a beginning writer
or a novice writer, you often have difficulty overcoming a focus on one or the other to be able to deal with both. And that's why we actually separate revising
and editing as two stages of the writing process, because they tend to interfere with one another for beginning writers. But again, if you're a more accomplished writer, they do occur simultaneously.
Revising should occur throughout the writing process. It's not something that occurs -- it's not the third step of writing. It occurs throughout.
We're constantly revising. We're revising our ideas for writing, our plans for writing, our initial draft. Our close to final draft might get some revision.
So it's recursive. You know, it affects planning, transcription, and other revision. And it's iterative. It occurs multiple times in the process.
Research is mixed on when revising occurs most, but the research that has been done appears to suggest that for some people, revising occurs late in the process,
and for other people it occurs throughout the process. So again, it is individualized to some extent. Good writers always revise, but when they revise differs among individuals.
And again, it's something to recognize with your students that not everyone is going to approach revising in the same way at the same time.
And again, metaphor of pruning and grafting. So why is revising so difficult? First, students often make inaccurate presuppositions regarding shared understanding.
They assume too much shared knowledge. In other words, they write something they think that you have perfect insight to what they were thinking.
Okay? And so they're not explicit enough in their writing because they presuppose too much shared knowledge. Yeah?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: [inaudible]
GARY TROIA: So the question is, how do you identify the goals of the reader and help the student kind of address those goals?
Which is basically addressing this issue of too much shared knowledge, assuming too much shared knowledge.
And you know, it's not something that you can do in a single lesson. It unfolds over time. Basically, you're developing audience awareness in students by, for one thing,
having them read effective text. And I have a colleague in Seattle when I used to work at the University of Washington that talked about being a readerly writer
and a writerly reader. And basically, when you're reading text, to not just read for understanding, but to read for craft.
And understanding what are the intentions of the writer? What is the writer trying to communicate to me, and why?
What are the assumptions of the writer in writing this piece about my background knowledge and my intentions?
And basically trying to get in the head of the writer because then that would help inform you as a writer to get in the head of your reader.
And just to go along this point, there was an interesting study done back in the 1980s that found, just to prove that this is in fact the case,
that elementary aged children were able to detect problems and revise effectively a piece of writing written by another kid than their own pieces of writing.
And so it's much easier if you're able to take a step outside of your own writing and look at writing as an object.
And so instructionally, what that means is that we often want to start having kids look at other people's writing and taking that kind of writerly reader approach with the writing.
Because then it's a lot easier for them to grapple with because when you're in your own head space, it's much difficult to be metacognitive, right?
Especially working with young kids, young writers who this is a developing ability anyway, and develops into middle adolescence.
They tend to focus on localized issues that are superficial in nature rather than discourse level issues. You've all seen this.
You know, when we ask kids to revise, they tinker with the text rather than really making substantive changes that affect the quality and the meaning of the text.
They miss inaccuracies and confusing spots, and/or they don't know what to change when they come across a problem when they actually recognize it. So they sometimes miss the problems altogether.
Or when the find them, they don't know what to do with them. So they might recognize that instance of cognitive dissonance, but they have no clue how to resolve it.
They feel too wedded to text already produced. And we've talked about how -- some ways to get around that, but that's another reason why revising is difficult.
They don't want to let go of what they've already invested a lot of time and effort into.
Again, because writing is so difficult, it requires this, you know, coordination of a lot of different cognitive and linguistic and physical processes and motivation.
It's very challenging. It's just hard. So add revising to it, it makes it that much more difficult. And there's little instruction devoted to revising.
We often ask students to revise, but we don't teach them how to revise. And there's a big difference, of course.
Claire et al found in a study that nearly 60% of comments made by teachers on 3rd and 7th grade students' papers were surface level comments.
And so what that illustrates -- and this was done in 2000, so this is like years after the advent of process writing approach to instruction.
Teachers are still giving way too much superficial feedback on students' writing that isn't going to amount in changes that are going to really affect the quality.
So how can we impact revising? Examination of those touchstone texts and comparing these with weak examples, that's really important.
So you often hear about sharing good examples, but it's equally important to contrast and compare good examples with bad examples.
Because that's going to exemplify or highlight the characteristics of a good example of what's a high quality text that much more if you set it aside right next to a bad example.
And you can use students' own writing. Well, I wouldn't use it from the same class. At least from other classes.
You don't want to actually, you know, pull out a piece of writing and say, here's a bad example that Johnny wrote for us last week. That would be very defeating motivationally.
Activities to develop genre and topic knowledge, so actually, explicitly teaching genre associated with a mode of writing and developing that topic knowledge.
Extensive modeling and guided practice, obviously that was mentioned earlier. Word processing software is going to help with revision because it makes revising, cutting and pasting, a lot easier.
I remind my students in graduate school that when I first started in school, we had to use a typewriter with carbon paper.
I mean, you know, revising and editing was not so easy back then. Now it's great. It's much easier.
There's actually software out there like Daedalus that is essentially prompting software that prompts students based on what they've written, what revisions they might make.
And that's just one example. There are many examples of this kind of software that's available. So you know, we can actually use software platforms
to offload some of the feedback onto a computer. It doesn't take the place of good teacher feedback, but it can be helpful.
Using a word processor alone, however, it supports revision, but it doesn't result in better quality writing necessarily.
What will result in better quality writing is using the computer with good revising strategy instruction. So combining those will really make a difference.
Checklists, which I'm going to show you in just a second. Peer and teacher conferencing. And tactical procedures, which I'm going to talk about.
I talked about flash drafting and goal setting. So let me go to the next page and just show you very quickly.
So this is the -- kind of the full version here. And I'm going to -- you're going to miss me for a little bit because I have to control this.
So this is just an editing and revising checklist called COLA, developed by Bonnie Singer and Tony Bashir. And it deals with content, organization, language, and appearance.
And it's just a checklist. A checklist will not guarantee that students are going to make revising and editing changes,
but it does guide their behavior in terms of revising and editing. And this addresses both because it's addressing higher level aspects as well as lower level aspects.
And so I'll also make sure that you guys have these full-blown versions of these things. I don't think there's anything I really want to say about this, so let me go to the next one,
which is SEARCH. This one I really like because it -- I've adapted it. It was developed by Ed Ellis. I've adapted it so that it addresses the goal setting at the beginning.
So we can set a quality goal that's focused on a product, and a quantity goal that's tied to it. So those are examples. Could also set a process goal.
And this, you know, identifying who your audience is and the impression that you want to give the audience ahead of writing.
So you do this ahead of writing. Then you write, then you examine your paper to see if it makes sense.
And the nice thing about checklists -- so SEARCH stands for set goals, examine paper to see if it makes sense, ask if you said what you meant, reveal picky errors, copy over neatly,
and of course because copying over, if you're doing it by hand, usually results in new errors, have a last look for errors.
And this does involve some collaboration with peers and identifying whether or not you met your goals.
But there are a couple things I like about this. One is that it addresses some of the goal setting and audience awareness.
But also, with any checklist, immediately when you start working on a checklist with students, it should be short and sweet.
And then over time, you add items to the checklist. So it's developmentally sensitive to where students are.
So a checklist at the end of the year is probably going to be a lot longer than this one, right? Again, that allows flexibility in using the checklist.
The other thing I like about this is the instructional steps. So this is one where -- and all of these could be done in this way,
where it's I do it, we do it, you do it. And so basically what happens is the teacher brings in a paper that the teacher's written riddled with errors
that are consistent with the errors that students in the class usually make, and then models how to use SEARCH to identify and correct the errors in that paper.
Then the next stage is the students are going to get a new paper that the teacher's written riddled with errors, and work in cooperative learning groups
to use SEARCH to identify and correct the errors. And then they're going to switch off with another group in the class to see if that group can identify additional errors.
And the groups are assigned points based on the number of errors they find and correct. And the students in the next group who get to see if there are additional errors
that were missed by the first group get bonus points. So it builds in this competition basically. So it's like team game -- teams, games, and tournaments.
Then the next step of instruction of instruction is the students write a paper with intentional errors. And of course they're going to include unintentional errors as well.
Bring it in, a group gets it, uses SEARCH to identify and correct errors. Then it's passed onto another group who try to find bonus errors and correct them.
And then, thank you, lastly, students use the strategy independently with a paper that they've written.
So you've had it modeled several times and practiced a couple times before students are expected to do it on their own.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: [inaudible]
GARY TROIA: And on their own work, that's right. And then lastly,CDO: compare, diagnose, operate.
This is actually much more intensive because you are revising it, editing at the sentence level, then the paragraph level, and then potentially at the text level.
So there are basically three passes or three cycles that you might go through. And I'm just showing you two cycles here on this illustration.
By the way, all of my stuff that I do with strategies we have embedded -- it's the mnemonic plus the embedded graphic that helps students remember the mnemonic.
So CDO stands for compare, diagnose, operate. So the compare part is I take and I read a sentence. This first cycle, I read a sentence, I ask myself,
does this match what I wanted to say? The answer's yes, fine, then move onto the next sentence. The answer's no, I go to my diagnostic cards.
The teacher develops these cards for each student. Again, this can be where you individualize.
The diagnostic cards are based on the kinds of errors that the student usually makes. So some examples here are the words are too vague.
So that's at the sentence level. I forgot some words. The sentence lacks details. The sentence is too long or short. The words are in the wrong order.
The student picks a diagnostic card, then they operate. They make the change indicated by the diagnostic card, revise that sentence, and then ask themselves,
was the change effective? If it was, good, let's move on to the next sentence and go through this process again. If not, I'm going to choose another -- go back to my first step and go through again.
So it's a very intensive process. But for students who really struggle with their writing, this makes massive improvements in their writing.
And so they go through sentence by sentence. Now obviously you're not going to give a student a two-page paper to do this with initially, right? Because it's going to be too overwhelming.
It should be like maybe a couple paragraphs in length initially until they internalize it.
And then the second cycle is at the paragraph level. So the question is, does my paragraph match the main idea I wanted to express? Yes, move onto the next paragraph.
No, let me go to my diagnostic cards. Then we have a separate set of diagnostic cards for paragraph level problems that are probably color-coded.
So I usually use like blue for sentence and green for paragraph and maybe red for whole text if I did a third cycle.
So the diagnostic cards for paragraphs: forgot a topic or main idea sentence, lacks a transition, paragraph is too long or short, the sentences are in the wrong order,
I need more details about the main idea. They pick a card, make the change, do the operation, therefore the revision, and then ask themselves, was it effective?
So you see they're moving sentence by sentence through the text, then paragraph by paragraph, and you could add a third cycle where it's the whole text. And then you'd have diagnostic cards
that were problems at the text level that they might use to diagnose. So very intensive, but very effective. Then because of time, I'm going to talk about planning very quickly.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: [inaudible]
GARY TROIA: Great question. So how many of these do you use, okay? So I encourage teachers to never overwhelm students with multiple strategies. I at most would introduce like one or two,
two at most to give students flexibility in what they want to use for a particular writing task or the particular, you know, aspects of themselves that they know well that is going to work for them.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Would some of these work better with other students? Do you have like maybe some students using one strategy, and other students --
GARY TROIA: Absolutely. Absolutely. And again, the checklist, because you can modify it for individual writers what's on that checklist, that's where you can individualize also,
as well as the length, the number of items, the actual items on the checklist.
Planning, you have this, so I won't talk about it. It's pretty straightforward. But let's go to -- well, I'll do DARE to DEFEND.
So this is persuasive writing, okay? So this is a mnemonic. And again, we have the graphic to remind the writer what the mnemonic stands for or what it is.
And DARE to DEFEND, DARE stands for the text structure aspect of persuasive writing. And DEFEND stands for the steps of writing a good persuasive essay, or persuasive or opinion paper.
So DARE stands for develop a position statement, add supporting arguments, report and refute counterarguments, and end with a strong conclusion.
And then DEFEND stands for develop a list of idea words for my essay. Again, idea words. Evaluate their importance. In other words, which ones am I going to be able to elaborate on,
that are going to have an impact on my reader? Find even more ways to convince my readers. In other words, continue planning, add more to my planning list.
Encourage myself through self-talk. Now write an essay with clear ideas, sharp sentences, and great impact. And decide if I've met my writing goals.
So this is the cue card for the mnemonic. And then what we have is a planning sheet. And here we identify the quality and quantity goal. I could even add the process goal here.
Ideas for their position and against their position based on whatever the prompt is, okay. Should students be required to wear uniforms at school? Okay.
And they would circle to evaluate which ones they think they can develop further, add more detail to, that are going to be good.
And also good counterarguments, right, that they can address and refute. And at the bottom of this planning sheet,
and again, these are all idea words or short phrases, they list their self-talk statements that they're going to use. They actually say aloud when they're writing.
And then they can take that underground because of course that looks kind of bizarre if you have a bunch of students talking to themselves for long periods of time.
And then this is the peer evaluation cards that we use. So these are questions for your partner. Does the writer use lots of descriptive words, different kinds of sentences
that are clear, convincing essay, logical, supporting ideas, logically refutes and report counterarguments? Is the paper free of errors? It's a four point scale.
And then the author tallies, identifies whether or not they met their goal, what they're going to shoot for next time, what specifically are they going to work on along these six dimensions.
And for -- we have this for narratives. The SPACE LAUNCH is for narrative. SPACE LAUNCH stands for setting elements, problems, actions, consequences, emotional reactions.
So story grammar, right? And then LAUNCH stands for -- oops. LAUNCH stands for list idea words for my story, ask if my ideas will meet my writing goals, use encouraging self-talk.
Now write a story with million-dollar words, sharp sentences, and lots of details. Challenge myself to develop more good ideas.
And H was have fun, but actually we've changed that so that it matches the H in the other one I just showed you.
And then this is the planning sheet again. So it's like a suite of strategy mnemonics for narrative, persuasive, and expository or informational writing. And we're also developing one for poetry.
And then again it has, you know, the goals and the self-talk statements, the score card. And the score card's been adjusted for what will be included in the narrative, but the same structure.
And then finally, TREE BRANCH is for expository writing. Tell what your topic is and why it's important with a good lede.
Relate important and interesting facts about your topic. Elaborate on the facts with supporting data. End with a summary that makes a reader want to find out more.
And then the BRANCH part stands for brainstorm idea words for my plan, recite my self-talk to keep me going strong, ask myself if my ideas will meet my writing goals.
Now write a report with good organization, powerful words, and accurate information. Challenge myself to come up with more good ideas.
And have a close look at my paper for mistakes. That's the H we substituted in the other one.
Planning card again and then score card again. So it's very consistent, the same look and feel and structure so that students aren't overwhelmed
by learning different strategies, but they've been adjusted for the genre of writing. So I'm out of time, but very quickly, any last questions? Yes?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Where are you going to be putting up the things that we asked for, the genre study and --
GARY TROIA: I will send everything to -- whom should I send it to? Sue Ann? Yeah, Sue Ann Houser. I'll send everything to her, and then she can post it to your website.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: [inaudible]
GARY TROIA: PaTTAN. The PaTTAN website, where everything is already. Anything else? Thank you. Thank you all very much.


Prior Research

Starts at 11:57

Writing Instruction

Starts at 17:48


Starts at 1:28:54


Starts at 1:49:07