Clear, articulate, concise writing is important for our students. The mind of a middle schooler may often be anything but clear, articulate and concise 🙂 (and that is OK). What strategies can we use to help students acquire and integrate learning of the writing process?
Better Answers is a writing program we are working on here at Heim. It is a structured writing response model that builds on the strategy of cues, questions and advance organizers. The “Better Answer Sandwich” graphic sums it up best (click to enlarge):
Using this organizer, students are directed through the writing process using specific, direct organizational ideas. The program has been used in lower grades in the past, and is now being rolled out across the school.
How might technology support this process? One way is with a new web resource we are piloting, the Glencoe Online Essay Grader. Teachers can assign essay topics to students, and students complete the essay online. In my first looks at the resource, there are tools that can be provided to students to formulate answers very much like the sandwich model. Additional supports (if desired) for students in this environment are sentence structure advice, spell and grammar check, and sentence diagramming.
Other technology resources to support the writing process include:
- Create a template in a word processing document that includes the steps of the Better Answers process. Students download and complete an essay using the steps as a framework.
- Use brainstorming and organizing software (such as Inspiration) to have students graphically complete the steps of the process, and then convert the graphic diagram to a word processing document.
Better writing is always a goal, and there are many technology tools to support it.