Engaging Writers with Interactive Genre Samples and Peer Review

The folks at UofT are at it again, and this project looks to be quite useful for writing teachers who are beginning to think about how technology can be useful for more than just web searching:

iWRITE is web-enabled courseware developed at the University of Toronto by Margaret Procter and colleagues to support the use of written assignments in courses across the disciplines. Each iWRITE site is course-specific so that it reflects the expectations in your discipline and your emphasis in teaching and grading. Thus its advice is relevant and credible.

By showing samples of past student papers along with detailed instructor annotations, iWRITE sites demonstrate the qualities of structure, coherence and style expected in written work for specific courses. The course grading criteria are included for viewing at any time. An interactive module (the Prompter) can be created to take students through the process of planning and drafting their next papers. A Peer Review function is also available for online exchange of papers.

iWRITE Web-Enabled Software

This kind of reminds me of the Model Bank examples, although the depth and breadth of classes and genres represented here seems much richer (mainly because this is college writing, not middle school). Moreover, I find the explicit focus on looking at other writing as models a great focus for this site, especially since so much concern about writing on the Internet is about copying and plagiarism. For the iWrite site, the focus seems to be on examining author’s craft in order to make one’s own writing better.

In other words, the teachers here want students to be looking at other writing, analyzing it, and learning to write better because of it. The interface allows them to do this in an interactive way, thus taking advantage of the technology to move beyond simply sharing a piece of writing but actually being able to engage with it.

I already emailed them for my temporary login and password.

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(Re)Imagining the Writing Workshop

Today, I invite you to think about what the writing workshop model offers for teachers and students and how it relates to Michigan’s ELA High School Content Standards.

Differentiating Writing Process from Writing Workshop

  • Quick write: What is Ray’s argument that she is trying to make for teaching writing? Do you agree or disagree with it?
  • Pair and share: Discuss your response in relation to your own experience as a K-12 student. What is your experience as a writer in school?

Examining the Writing Workshop in Action

As you view the video, please take note on how you see Ray’s “essential characteristics” of the writing workshop and what the teacher and students are doing:

  • Time for writing
  • Teaching
  • Talking
  • Periods of focused study
  • Publication rituals
  • High expectations and safety
  • Structured management

As you see the writing workshop enacted, and realizing that this is just one lesson, to what extent do you see these essential characteristics coming in to play? What did the teacher do? The students?

Examining Michigan’s High School ELA Content Expecations

Get a paper strip with a single content expectation. On the back of this strip, please write a one-sentence description of what you think this would look like in a classroom. What would the teacher be doing? What would students be doing?

Understanding the expectations: As you walk around the room and network with your colleagues, discuss your expectations in light of Ray’s “essential characteristics.”

To what extent do Ray’s characteristics and the content expectations:

  • Overlap and support each other?
  • Oppose or contradict each other?
  • Seem completely unrelated? Why?

Combining Theory and Practice

Get a full version of HS ELA Writing Expectations.

  • Where do you see evidence of a “writing process” approach in the content expecations?
  • Where do you see evidence of a “writing workshop” approach?
  • What specific skills do the content expectations demand that may or may not align with Ray’s vision of teaching in the writing workshop?
  • How do the different genres and media (especially media related to technology) map on to Ray’s understanding of the composing process?

Exit Slip

Begin to draft a response to Ray that takes the new HS expectations into account. You may respond by answering any of the questions that we have explored today or one that you now have in your mind. Please post the final draft of this response to your blog.