PLC Newsletter

Kilgore Intermediate School September 10, 2015

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Dates to Know...


*All students' reading and math levels should be charted on the data walls in room 307 and data templates listing students' names and levels need to be shared with me by the end of the day tomorrow (Friday, September 11th).

Common Grade 1 for 4th and 5th Grade ELAR and Math should be given on Friday, September 11th unless otherwise discussed and agreed upon in PLC. You will receive scantrons and copies of the tests in your boxes today.

Week of September 14-18

- Tuesday, September 15th PLC Meetings in Room 307 (ELAR Planning Day)

- Thursday, September 16th PLC Meetings in Room 307 (Math/Science Planning Day)

Tentative Agenda for Data Day (Week of September 14-18):

*Share information from lead4ward documents studied for specified TEKS from the Student Learning Report

*Chart pertinent information on a project board (see example from lead4ward training below)

*Review scope & sequence to see where the TEKS are taught and revise if needed

*View a short video regarding how small group instruction turned a school around

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Writing Across the Curriculum

Are your students writing critically every day? One of the best ways to facilitate deeper learning is to get kids writing. Not just in English class, but all the time.

Learning to write, and write well, is a crucial life skill. Not only does it help one succeed in school, it’s vital to success in the “real” world too. Writing has become essential in today’s wired world. We communicate through the written word on a daily basis via email and text. When our students enter the work force, they will be expected to know how to fire up their computers and write coherent, intelligent content pretty much no matter what field they choose.

In addition, studies have shown that writing helps boost student achievement across the board because it actively engages children. It requires them to take in information, organize their thoughts, sort through all of the information they’ve received and then process it. Writing is the most extensive brain workout a kid can get. It includes reading, logic, motor coordination and if writing for an audience, social emotional intelligence. In other words, there are MANY benefits to writing across the curriculum.

  • Writing aids retention. It helps children remember and understand material much more than passive forms of learning like reading and listening. Writing helps with mental recall. It cements a concept in a kid’s brain more than anything else.
  • Writing increases the depth of knowledge on a subject and helps students master any specialized vocabulary or terminology related to the topic.
  • Writing develops critical thinking skills. When a child has to research something, organize her thoughts and then write about it in a clear, concise way she’s flexing her mind.
  • Writing promotes independent thinking. In order to write, you have to have a point of view.

Writing Across the Curriculum Benefits Teachers

As daunting as writing across the curriculum may sound to some teachers, there are a lot of positive things about incorporating writing into your lesson plans!

  • Writing is a great way to engage all of your students! You won’t just hear from the kids who are always throwing their hands up.
  • Writing helps teachers monitor student progress and gauge their strengths and weaknesses. Writing lets you know where your students are at more than any test. With regular writing assignments as part of your curriculum, you don’t have to wait for a big exam to see if the kids are getting it.
  • Writing helps you see gaps in instruction so you can adjust your teaching to insure that all of the students get what you’re talking about!
  • Writing saves you time! Writing can be a very efficient way to cover multiple standards at once because it is such a complex, multifaceted task. In science, for example, you can get a glimpse of students’ hypothetical and procedural thinking by analyzing a written lab report.
  • Students learn best by writing. Kids learn the most through writing. If you’re only going to do one thing, writing is the highest payoff activity you can pick.

Getting Started With Writing Across the Curriculum
Some teachers have expressed concern over writing across the curriculum. Math and science teachers may worry they’ll have to spend an inordinate amount of time teaching writing skills and have to become experts in the six traits of writing or give up their evenings to grading stacks and stacks of papers. But that’s not the goal of writing across the curriculum. The point is deeper learning, not a perfectly developed writing product as one would aim for in English class. There are many ways to incorporate writing into lesson plans without requiring a teacher to become a six traits whiz.

Here are seven awesome ways to bring writing into your classroom no matter what subject you’re teaching:

  1. Journal Writing: Journal writing is a great way to create confident writers. Journals are an informal place for students to summarize their thoughts and think about class content, no matter what the subject. You can give the children writing prompts or just let them write freely!
  2. Think-Pair-Share: After a lecture or presentation, invite the children to record their thoughts. Then pair them up with another student and have them discuss the topic. Finally, open the discussion up to the whole class. You’ll find that by organizing and writing their thoughts before the discussion, the kids will have much more insightful things to add to the conversation!
  3. Quick-Writes: Quick-writes are great ways to get students to practice writing and critical thinking skills. They’re designed to focus the student’s thinking. Set a timer for 10 minutes and give the children a writing prompt. You can show them an historical picture, read a quote from your favorite scientist or ask them to write about how they’d use a math theory in real life. Anything that gets them thinking…and writing! Not only are quick-writes quick to write, they’re incredibly quick to review as well. Short writing is as important as long writing.
  4. Self-Assessments: Throughout the year invite the students to write about how they think they’re doing in class! Ask them what the most difficult part of the class has been or what they’ve loved learning. Not only will they get practice writing, you’ll get valuable insight into how your students are learning and what you can do to help them even more!
  5. Real World Writing: Think about the type of writing most often done in your discipline and have the students do it! For example, mathematicians write theorems and textbook problems. Scientists write lab reports. Journalists in all fields write articles. Have the kids create a website or a pamphlet for some real world writing experience.
  6. Note Taking: There isn’t a ton of writing development in scribbling notes as a teacher is talking. But you can use note taking to flex your students’ writing skills if you tweak things a bit. Use “summary note taking” as a writing exercise. Break your lectures down into 5 to 10-minute chunks and invite the students to summarize what you spoke about at the end of each block. They’ll get to flex both their writing and retention skills and you’ll get a break to catch your breath!
  7. Research Projects: Ask your students to write research-based arguments, not just persuasive arguments. The goal is for all children to become self-directed learners that are adept at researching (and writing about!) a wide variety of subjects.

Writing across the curriculum is a wonderful way to get kids writing and learning in bigger, better, deeper ways.

What can I do for you?

Please let me know if I can help you in any way. I am here to support you and will do whatever I can to assist you in achieving success for all students.

Christy McElyea, KIS Instructional Specialist

I believe in you.

I believe in our students.

I believe in KIS.

KISD...where every student counts!