Monday, October 12, 2009

First Meetings with Writing Across the Curriculum Teams Underway

I am almost through my first round of visits with our school's Writing Across the Curriculum teams and, while it feels comfortable and familiar for me as a facilitator, most participating teachers did not take part in the project last year. This is an opportunity to bring job embedded professional learning to an entirely new group of Avon Maitland teachers and to build on the learning from last year's groups.

What do you need to know about our WAC teams this year?

  1. Every high school has a Writing Across the Curriculum team.
  2. Teams are comprised of 5 – 8 teachers representing different subjects. 3 of the teams within our board have cross panel representation (7-12 teachers).
  3. Each team has a Science teacher, Tech Ed teacher and Canada World Studies teacher.
  4. Although we call ourselves Writing Across the Curriculum Teams, teachers explore written communication within the context of their discipline.
  5. Teachers develop an inquiry question that focuses on improving student writing. This question may change in second semester as timetables change.
  6. The work is integrated into to what the teachers are already teaching and where they are in their curriculum (content).
  7. The focus in on the 'how' of teaching and assessing.
  8. Teachers focus on one of their classes, so the work is manageable.
  9. Teachers will select 3 students for whom they will collect a continuum of work. This work, with student names removed, will ground our discussions at inquiry team meetings.
  10. Teachers will try new instructional strategies and differentiate instruction.

Goals for the first meeting:

  1. Establish an understanding of the kind of work we will be doing.

    Inquiry-based; critical friends; developed from real needs/dilemmas in our classes; focused on writing; examining records of practice.

  2. Broaden our definition of literacy, reading, text and writing and establish a common understanding of these terms.

    Teams have decided that reading is decoding, understanding, interpreting and making connections. Text is anything a student has to decode, interpret and understand. Text could be a novel, handout, film, plans, a map, art, dance, etc. Writing can occur to help students acquire information (input), such as note making. Writing can occur when students process information (we call this 'writing to learn' or writing for learning) and writing can be a product that reveals what the student knows and can do (output).

Teachers will spend the remainder of October

  1. Honing their inquiry questions and direction.
  2. Developing and implementing diagnostic assessments that relate to their inquiries.
  3. Collecting work for their selected three students.