National Writing Project

Writing Undergoes Renaissance in Curricula

Publication: Education Week
Date: November 13, 2012

Summary: Various forces, such as the Common Core State Standards, are bringing about a newfound focus on writing instruction for teachers. One of these teachers is Linda Denstaedt, co-director of the Oakland Writing Project in Michigan, who uses strategies such as the "multidraft read" in order to encourage her students to approach reading like a writer.

 

Excerpt from Article

That's what Linda Denstaedt and her colleagues are trying to do as they craft K-12 curriculum units to reflect the standards in Michigan. At the core of their work at Oak Park High School is the "multidraft read," aimed at teaching students to delve into reading like writers, she said, which strengthens both their reading and their writing.

They read a text again and again, first to make sense of it and note their questions, as the teacher works the room to help, Ms. Denstaedt said. A second round of annotating focuses on looking for elements of the genre and how it works. They read again to spot structural decisions the writer made to create meaning, she said. The students then use what they learned in their own writing.

"All of this adds up to learning to read in layers, learning to read like a writer," said Ms. Denstaedt, the co-director of the Oakland Writing Project, which is a consultant to Michigan on the project and is an affiliate of the Berkeley, Calif.-based National Writing Project. "And you're learning how to read better as you write."

Too often, she said, writing is "all about doing tasks, assignments. We get students doing reading, and maybe writing, but we're not necessarily helping them learn how to think their way through a text."

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