December 19, 2014

Elementary schools begin new writing program

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STANDISH — A new writing program has been introduced to Standish and Sterling Elementary Schools for this school year.

The program, titled Write … From the Beginning, teaches students how to create thinking maps they can use to help them write.

Beverly Skinner, director of instructional services for Standish-Sterling Community Schools, said students will be able to do more writing and use more detail.

“We have been trying to find the right program for three years,” she said. “As far as professional development, this is the most exciting thing we have done in years.”

Write … From the Beginning is a program created by a company called Designing for Thinking from New Hampshire. Skinner said the program has everything the school district was looking for, and the company sends out an expert to train teachers of all subjects for 16 days.

“Teachers were trained the Thursday before school started and (an expert) will be back in three weeks to do the next step,” she said.

Skinner said that with school district scores low, teachers and students from all subjects will benefit from this program.

“It does not matter if you’re writing for English or social studies, these skills will transfer,” she said. “Writing is a literacy skill. We need to raise our scores.”

Skinner said the goal of the program is for students to become better writers.

“We want our kids to be proficient in writing narratives or whatever they are writing,” she said.

Skinner said the new program will get students to form efficient thinking processes through thinking maps.

“(Students) will take trained steps through the maps,” she said. “It’s a whole organizational thinking process.”

Starting with kindergarten through fifth-grade students this year, Skinner said the plan is to bring the program to the middle and high schools next year.

She said there is a plan to have the students who are learning this way continue to learn the same way throughout their schooling.

“The thinking maps used in the (elementary school) will transfer over to the middle school, then transfer to the high school,” Skinner said.

She said the thinking maps are a prewriting tool used to expand students’ writing skills.

“When I was in school, our teacher would tell us to write about our summer and I would sit there stumped for a half an hour,” she said. “Steps will be added to make students’ writing more in-depth.”

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