Write Like This, together. We had great conversations, but the teachers didn't stop there. This year, teachers are implementing many new strategies to reach student readers and writers in authentic ways.
Our seventh grade teachers are implementing "Articles of the Week" this year. Each Friday, students read an engaging article that relates to the learning in the classroom and the world. Independently, students read and "code" the text (hellooo 'close reading' CCSS). Our teachers created (and borrowed) codes (+ for agree, ! for surprise, ? for question, etc.). After the close reading of the authentic article, students write a reflection in their notebooks about the reading. The teachers provide models and guide students to code the text and write the reflection meaningfully and authentically. Students will discuss the article and the reflections the next Friday in many different ways: socratic seminars, cooperative groups, partners, and class discussions, to mention a few. We are always searching for new ways to engage students to read closely, think critically, communicate effectively, and write reflectively. I can't wait to see the conversations in action as students continue their deep discussions.
I predict that this kind of scaffolding will provide students the foundation and risk-taking environment that will allow students to choose their own authentic articles, codes, and reflection questions in the future. This will make the process even more authentic as we teach students to be readers and writers in the twenty-first century and will transfer the learning into the hands of the students: our ultimate goal to create critical, independent thinkers.