Students need to be able to develop an awareness of personal, social, historical, cultural and workplace contexts, their notions of value and their understanding of self and others.
This requires in students a depth of thought and transfer of what they learn to the world around them.
They need to confidently express meaning, understand how meaning is conveyed, shaped, interpreted and reflected in and through language.
In a school wide strategy to improve writing at Moama Anglican Grammar (MAG) last year, the teaching staff in professional learning teams, worked together to develop a process for writing.
The MAG writing process was refined many times to ensure that it could be used by all students in all subjects.
Once the MAG writing process was finalised, the next step has been to embed this process into the teaching and learning for students and staff across the school.
This year, the staff are once again working together to learn visible thinking routines by Harvard University Project Zero, with Karin Morrison that will directly support the MAG writing process.
One visible thinking routine that the staff recently learn is called “Stories”.
This routine assists students in uncovering accounts of complex issues, events, people and how they have been presented.
The thinking that it encourages is teasing apart and rethinking the various angles, dimensions and scope of accounts.
As well as, using reason and justification to develop a considered stance on the account.
The steps of the routine are as follows:
1. What is the story that is presented? What is the account that is told?
2. What is the untold story? What is left out in the account?
3. What is your story? What is the account that you would like to have told?
The Stories routine can then be used with each step of the MAG writing process.
This results in students exploring their understanding of the assessment task/criteria and constructing deep meaning about it.
All prompted by the use of the thinking routine.
To illustrate this in practice an example is below that focuses on the first step of the MAG writing process.
Step of writing process: Briefly Identify the Audience
Thinking Routine: Stories
1. What is the audience that is presented in the assessment task explanation and criteria?
2. What is the untold audience for the assessment task and criteria?
3. What is my story, who am I going to include as the audience of the assessment task and criteria?
The school wide approach of the MAG Writing Process and Visible Thinking Skills gives students explicit tools for writing that are practiced in all subjects.
This strategy deepens cognition of content and makes thinking visible so that it can be improved.