Program Teaches the Power of the Pen

Jessica Blanchard:

The difference between the two stories is striking.
The first is two nearly bare pages, with two garbled sentences, illustrated by a single pencil drawing. The second, a tale about a little girl’s morning routine, has much more detail, the words and pictures filling three full pages. The cheery sketches are carefully labeled: house, flowers, fence, sun.
The author is a second-grader who is learning English as a second language — and the two stories were written just over two months apart.
“It’s so incredible to see the growth,” said Dan Coles, the literacy program manager for Seattle Public Schools.
Thanks to the Writer’s Workshop program, such rapid progress is becoming more common for Seattle students, he said.
The curriculum, developed by Columbia University Teachers College, has been in place in Seattle middle schools and in various grades at K-8 schools since fall 2006. Four elementary schools are testing out the Writer’s Workshop program this year: Coe, Olympic Hills, Madrona and Loyal Heights. District officials hope to eventually expand the program to all the elementary schools.
The basic format is the same at each school: A daily mini-lesson to introduce a new writing technique, followed by about 40 minutes of writing to help students hone their skills.

Young Authors Conference & Wisconsin Writes @ the Milwaukee Art Museum.