Welcome to my blog! I'm Karen Belt, a teacher and leader of digital learning, working at Lynmore Primary School in Rotorua, New Zealand. I'm teaching in a Year 2 class using iPads to engage and motivate learners and improve student achievement. This blog documents my teaching journey and my learning processes with iPads in the classroom. I've proud of having been a member of the inaugural Manaiakalani Digital Teaching Academy(MDTA) program and last year a Spark Manaiakalani Innovative Teacher (MIT) and Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir teacher.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Reflecting on Writing

Today was our last session with Dr Jannie van Hees for the year, as part of our school wide professional development on increasing dialogic conversations and improving writing.  As we reflected on the learning to date this year as a whole staff, Jannie asked us to pay close attention to the choices that a learner needs to make in text construction, these being:

TOPIC  - what are we writing about?
PURPOSE - why are we writing about this?
AUDIENCE - who is the intended audience of our writing?

I think this is an important take-away message and while many of my learners are at the beginning stage of learning to write, it is never too early to ensure they are aware of these three important factors as they make a difference in what we are crafting!  

As with all our Jannie sessions, they are informative and thought provoking and make me think about my practice and how I can improve or change things to better scaffold and assist my learners.  Some of the most important ideas that I took away from today are:

  • Think and planning before writing and during writing matters!  Explicit attention to this is important - this might look different in my class than say a Year 5/6 class, but that doesn't deter from its importance!
  • Can my learners identify the topic, purpose and audience?  Have we made it clear so they know what they are writing about, why they are writing about it and who will read it?  
  • If time is limited, discuss rather than actually "do" the writing. Professional writers plan all the time - they think about, plan and imagine, sometimes for hours, days or weeks before they do the actual writing. Modelling and doing this as a whole class helps to set up my learners for working independently and scaffolds them into their own planning.
  • What does co-editing do? How might this look? There is an assumption with co-editing that there is an informed mediator (someone with more knowledge to scaffold and assist the learner). Co-editing is extremely important as without it, how can we lift the level of the learner. In a busy classroom it can be easy to overlook the importance of this activity.
  • Is it written like talk? In a junior classroom, often the learner will write in the same way they talk as this is the start of their writing journey. However, we have the opportunity to model writing to the whole class and need to think about this aspect when we do.

As Jannie completed her session, she reminded us that writing is a complex act!  In order to maximise writing lessons for my learners, I need to constantly reflect on my teaching pedagogy and practice, with the assistance of professional development and discussions with others!

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