Low-Stakes Writing: Writing to Learn, Not Learning to Write

>>Teacher: So what I want you to do
right now is in your notebook write down at least one thing you know, and one thing you don't,
or one question you have. >>Because we do low stakes writing, I have seen my students
become more critical thinkers. I've seen them become less
afraid to make mistakes. They're pushing each other
and themselves to think about things a little more deeply. >>Meghan Rosa: All right, ladies and
gents, we're going to start our writing. Begin. >>Teacher: Every class, pretty much
every day, you will find kids writing. >>J.J.: We write in English,
Science, actually, no. We write in every single class. >>Stefano: We do writing
daily here in our math class. We use writing to put down our
ideas and where we're at so far and where we can go from there. >>Teacher: So jot down what
it is that you're looking for, because that can kind
of be like the question that you're trying to answer, you know? >>James Kobialka: In numeracy,
in history, in English, in art, you'll see them writing thoughts, writing opinions, giving
people comments. >>Dan St. Louis: I had a
student once say to me, "I never write because
I'm always wrong." He'd gone through all of elementary
school and he was really used to a lot of red marks crossing
out his misspelled words. For us, you don't have to have mastered
spelling before you can think deeply about a novel or a play. We're going to do a lot of low
stakes writing where, you know what, I don't care necessarily
about the spelling. Here's an interesting issue,
here's an interesting problem. Let's just think about that
on paper for two minutes. >>Teacher: Describe or write
about two things that you can do to improve your group's work today. >>Meghan Rosa: Structure is obviously
so important to a piece of writing, but if you start with the structure, then you limit the ideas
that you come up with. >>Whatever statement you're
focusing on, you can write any notes that you think will be
helpful for later. >>We're working on argument right now. >>The six steps for the– >>They did a little bit of
research on two different topics: should homework be banned, and do
schools need to have a police presence? >>We're going to start our writing. We have seven minutes: begin. >>We use seven minute writes close
to daily for a couple of reasons. It's an idea generator. Like, if you only have seven minutes, it's just about like
getting out a bunch of ideas. >>Student: I said I think that schools
should be provided with cops only if they have a Taser,
handcuffs and a club. >>Meghan Rosa: It's definitely
important to me that they are sharing it right away, so that they can teach each
other to be better writers. >>Anna: I wrote that I agree
that we shouldn't have homework, because we have other
things to do at home. For example, since I translate, I am
busy and my body gets really stressed. >>The seven minute write, which I really
like because that gives me time to just like spill out all my
thinking, and like, I don't have time to stop and rethink. Your writing's not always
going to be perfect. You just have to pour
out all your thoughts at first and then re-fix it later. >>Teacher: Don't forget to
write down your observations, what do you see, what do you notice? >>In seventh grade science class,
we use interactive notebooks. With the interactive notebook, they are essentially writing
their own middle school textbook. And low stakes writing is
integral to that notebook. As we go through the year,
we do an input and an output. >>How many hydrogen, carbon, oxygen? >>And the input is generally
class notes, which are very, very, very structured at the
beginning of the year. And the output is always reflecting
on it or doing your own version of it or doing diagrams to explain it. So on one side, it's in academic
language, and on the other side, it is in their own language. >>Isaiah: It helps me like start
to put stuff in my own words, not have to get help all the
time and to be independent. >>Sherenity: We've been learning about
molecules and atoms and mass and stuff, so it's like, you understand
it yourself, so now you can explain
it in your own words. >>I said atoms make up everything
that has mass in this world, atoms does not make up energy. >>Teacher: Love it. >>Student: Atoms make up mass
and like, use it to build. >>Dan St. Louis: The low stakes writing
is part of the instruction itself, it's writing to learn, not to
show what you already learned. >>Teacher: You get a student generated
definition or a student generated answer which everyone in the
class can then learn from. >>Wait, what did you write there, Dicky? >>Chemical bonds are so
skinny and they hold mass. >>Low stakes writing is a way of
valuing student voice and student ideas and it has carryover
into all different areas, it will foster better discussions,
it will foster more thought, it will foster engagement
of everyone in the room. >>Anna: Our parents might ask why we stay up so late,
it's because of homework.

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