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By Carol Patton
Reprinted with permission from Scholastic Administrator magazine. Winter 2014 issue, page 54.
“I love writing.”
Amontrey, a fourth-grade student At Shacklette Elementary in Louisville, Kentucky, wrote this as part of a thankyou letter to a representative at Zaner-Bloser for creating a fun program called Strategies for Writers that taught the 9-year-old how to write papers.
Months earlier, Amontrey couldn’t spell well. He couldn’t construct a sentence. He didn’t know when or how to use capital letters, paragraphs, or simple punctuation.
Amontrey’s experience isn’t unusual. According to the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results, less than 30 percent of all students score at the “proficient” level or higher in national testing on writing. More bad news: The College Board recently stated that less than half—43 percent—of students who took the SAT in 2012 were prepared for college-level work.
Considering the bold changes ushered in by Common Core State Standards that aim to raise the bar in student performance in mathematics and English language arts, which includes writing, teachers are under even more pressure to deliver concrete results.
Learning to write can be a challenge for both students and teachers. Some students dislike it because they think it is tedious, time-consuming, and beyond boring. Many teachers struggle with writing instruction because, up to now, there wasn’t a program that was simple to implement, made writing enjoyable, and, most important, worked.
Zaner-Bloser, a Columbus, Ohio–based company, realized a fresh approach to writing instruction was needed. Unlike many other writing programs, Strategies for Writers is based on solid research and best practices in writing instruction. It addresses the rigorous CCSS standards by focusing on and simplifying the process of writing, not the end product. Teachers grow more self-assured, more comfortable, in helping students transfer their experiences, ideas, knowledge, and opinions onto paper. Likewise, students no longer feel overwhelmed because writing assignments are broken down into manageable steps. The less intimidating the process, the more eager students are to write, and soon they discover the power of written expression.
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