Monday, December 03, 2007

Report from Parent Writing Workshop

Good evening! I am writing from the MLK media center on the evening of December 3, 2007 surrounded by parents from 22 families who have assembled for a Parent Writing Workshop for the purpose of understanding writing instruction and how it pertains to their children. This event has been planned and implemented by the MLK School Improvement Team both this school year and last. In fact, I am very happy to announce that with tonight's participation, over 150 families total have participated in the workshop. In the near future, I will announce a second parent opportunity for families to learn about writing, again sponsored by the MLK School Improvement Team. Watch for it!

Back to tonight's blog entry . . . Here are a few pieces of information that were shared at tonight's presentation that would be helpful for all of us to remember:
  1. All children can and should write. From the time your children can hold a crayon, encourage them to draw, scribble and write. In order to be successful and fluent writers, students need to know they can write--even if it doesn't look perfect!
  2. Teachers must help student find real purposes to write. Help your children communicate their hopes, dreams, fears, and concerns. When your children see writing as serving a real purpose, they will be more likely to try it.
  3. Students need to take ownership and responsibility. Kid writing should sound like kid writing! When kids believe that their writing is their own, they will become more likely to invest themselves in it.
  4. Effective writing programs involve the complete writing process. Our children like all writers, have different ways of approaching writing tasks. Tune in to your children's learning styles and needs as writers. Writing in different styles and genres will take time. Some genres will take just one draft while others will take multiple drafts.
  5. Teachers can help students get started. Talk with your children about their ideas and encourage them to draw, freewrite, and make lists of verbs in order to get started.
  6. Teachers can help students draft and revise. Listen to our children's drafts and ask real questions about content. Heartfelt questions are the best way to encourage kids to keep on writing.
  7. Grammar and mechanics are best learned in the context of actual writing. If you notice errors in conventions in your children's writing, pick just one area at a time to work on (such as punctuation, dialogue, or capitalization). You might also refer to real texts (books, newspapers, letters, magazines) to see how published authors tackle issues of punctuation, spelling and more.
  8. Students need real audiences and a classroom context of shared learning. Help your children find real audiences (famliy, friends, neighbors) to communicate with.
  9. Writing should extend throughout the curriculum. You can write just about anything at home: letters to family and friends, songs and plays to perform for the family, lists for grocery shopping . . . The list is endless!
  10. Effective teachers use evaluation constructively and efficiently. Your job as a parent is to encourage and support any effort your children make in writing. Be lavish in praise and specific and limited in your suggestions for improvement.
I hope that everyone will find the above information useful and helpful, even if you couldn't attend one the parent nights.

Please also join me in thanking the Eastern Michigan Writing Project, Susan Lake, Diane Massell and the MLK School Improvement Team for their work around tonight's workshop and achievement at MLK.