WSISD Curriculum & Instruction

4th Six Weeks Newsletter

WSISD Problem of Practice: Evidence of Critical Thinking through Writing Across the Curriculum

With our first semester of instructional rounds completed, the C&I Department has compiled the data from each of our campus visits and have developed our second semester instructional rounds rubric. We are eager to begin our next set of instructional rounds to see evidence of how each campus is progressing toward our goal to increase critical thinking evidenced through writing. As a district, we have observed increases in the level of critical thinking we are requiring from our students and increases in the quality of writing at all levels. Thank you to each one of you for your commitment to excellence and continuous improvement. Continue to raise the bar for our students!
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10 Best Practices in Writing

Increase Critical Thinking through Critical Writing In your Classroom by:

  • providing frequent opportunities for students to engage in authentic writing in journals (student reflections, analysis, making connections)
  • utilizing Thinking Maps and the Frame of Reference to take student thinking to a piece of writing
  • utilizing Workshop Model framework daily to provide students with struggle time and opportunities for critical thinking and problem solving during the work period
  • providing rigorous and relevant "Quadrant D" learning experiences daily
  • providing explicit teacher modeling of the writing process
  • co-creating anchor charts for student reference
  • providing real purposes and audiences for writing
  • holding brief teacher-student conferences
  • teaching students to reflect on their own writing progress
  • providing meaningful teacher feedback in journals

What Single Practice has the Most Powerful Impact on Student Achievement??? FEEDBACK

According to John Hattie's research, providing students with specific information about their standing in terms of particular objectives increased their achievement by 37 percentile points.

Not all feedback is equally effective though.


1.) Be as Specific as Possible-Take the time to provide learners with information on what exactly they did well, and what may still need improvement rather than just saying "Great job!" Has a student's performance changed or improved since the last time you assessed them? Let students know how they are progressing.

2.) The Sooner the Better- Researchers have found that students that receive immediate feedback showed a significantly larger increase in performance than those who had received delayed feedback. It's not always possible to provide students with feedback right on the spot, but sooner is definitely better than later.

3.) Address the Learner's Advancement Toward a Goal- Effective feedback is most often oriented around a specific goal that students are working toward. Provide students with precise language on what to do to improve. When giving feedback, it should be clear to students how the information they are receiving will help them progress toward their final goal.

4.) Present Feedback Carefully- Utilize growth mindset language when providing feedback and encourage students that their effort results in more learning. Help students understand that the feedback is meant to help them compete against their own personal bests rather than each other.

5.) Involve Learners in the Process- Students must be given access to information about their performance. Students need to know if they actually mastered the material or not. Giving students information about the ways they are studying, reading, writing, searching for information, or answering questions is invaluable.

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The Heart of Workshop Model is One-on-One Conversations with Kids

The work period is the perfect opportunity to sit down with kids, one at a time, and work for a few minutes on specifically what each student needs. An individual conference with a student is often far more effective than endless hours of whole-class instruction. A conference doesn't have to be time consuming, it can simply be a three-minute private conversation with a child that is timed at just the right moment and targeted to that kid's own work. Donald Graves, laid out 3 simple questions that teachers can utilize in any subject during a conference:

(1) What are you working on?

(2) How is it going?

(3) What do you plan to do next? or How can I help you right now?

These short and sweet conferences promote learning of content through teaching a habit of mind. These questions teach students how to reflect on their own work, review their own progress, identify their own problems, set their own goals, and make plans about steps they are going to take to improve.

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