With one more week of school left, I can't help but reflect on all of the changes that have taken place in my classroom this year. I know it must have been some kind of divine intervention that led me to whole brain teaching, and I am forever grateful for the wonderful things it has done to my classroom.
Looking back to where my students started, I am amazed at the growth I have seen in their critical thinking, communication, leadership, reading, and writing skills. My only regret is that I didn't start implementing some strategies sooner in the year!
It's their improvement in writing skills that most astonished me. Even though I introduced red/green writing and the genius ladder early in the year, I don't think I really tapped into their full potential until I started using Triple Whammy paragraphs and oral writing gestures.
What I noticed was that even though we (myself and the language arts teacher of course) had worked on capitalization, punctuation, and complex sentences, it wasn't until I provided specific sentence frames through Triple Whammy and repeated and continuous practice through oral writing gestures that their writing really started to improve.
It literally took two weeks for students' writing to show huge improvements. I even got an very kind note from the language arts teacher saying how much she felt they improved too! I am kicking myself that I didn't start these much sooner in the year.
Next year, here's the order that I would like to introduce writing.
1. What is a sentence - Program 549- These are the basics of what a sentence needs to have in it. Even in sixth-grade, students continue to write fragments and run on sentences.
2. Oral Writing -Program 502 - This builds off of the complete sentence lesson above, and gives daily and constant practice in starting with a capital letter, giving a complete thought, and ending with punctuation. Brain toys, such as the because clapper, example popper, and detail adder are also introduced as frames for writing different types of sentences that convey clear ideas.
3. Genius Ladder - Program 841 - This program works to add depth to sentences by adding adjectives, adverbs, and "extenders".
4. Red/Green Marker Writing - Program 531- The beauty of this program is that is allows the teacher and peer editors to focus on one specific concept and mark where in a student's writing it was done well, and where it needs improvement.
5. What is the main idea- Program 550 - Building on the idea of writing a complete sentence, this program works, obviously, on understanding main idea.
6. Triple Gold sentence - Program 542 - This program takes main idea and works to add detail - building towards a topic sentence for a paragraph.
7. What is a topic sentence- Program 551 - Continuing the program above, the triple gold sentence is used to show the main idea of a paragraph.
8. What is a paragraph- Program 552 - Finally, a Triple Whammy paragraph gives a basic paragraph structure of topic sentence, detail adder, detail adder, detail adder, and concluder. This basic paragraph frame can then be enhanced through complex sentences and depth in detail.
I think the power of the WBT writing program comes from its simplicity, and its ability to be used to write college level essays. It's a starting place, with specific steps to follow and concepts to master, that can then be expanded to every grade level!