inquiring – conceptual understanding – contextualizing – collaborating – differentiating – assessing – reflecting
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Communication is (and has been) a very important goal of education. In standard 2b, the ISTE NETS for students states that students should be able to “communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.” Let’s face it, the ability to communicate effectively is not unique to the 21st century. In fact, it’s safe to say that effective communication is a timeless skill. Perhaps this skill remains at the forefront in a time when modes of communication are numerous and ever-evolving because it is a skill that is in danger with the advent of text language and faces in devices rather than in face-to-face conversations.
During this round of professional development blocks for teachers of grades 6 – 12, teachers built on the fundamental MYP concept that we are all teachers of language and, thus, communication (p. 11, MYP From Principles to Practice). In fact, any teacher in any IB programme works to develop the IB Learner Profile attribute of Communicator. Groups explored the traits of good writing through the features of subject specific writing tasks.
During the eight day cycle of PD blocks, writing connections were revealed across subjects, divisions, and programmes. One of the take-aways is the realization that at AIS, teachers expect a lot of different types of writing from students. These include (but are certainly NOT limited to): reflections, lab reports, research papers, thematic essays, brochures, explanations, letters, and investigations.
Yet, despite the wide range of formats, the features of good writing are consistent. These traits of writing require that students use “original ideas, organize thoughts logically, find a voice that speaks to the audience, choose the best words possible, use those words to create sentences that flow, check conventions for accuracy, present work neatly and legibly.” (scholastic.com)
Through defining the mode of writing (narrative, expository, persuasive), teachers are better able to clarify the purpose in order to help students to produce a piece of writing that effectively communicates their understanding of a given topic. Each group was reminded by Susanna, 6 – 12 Literacy Coach, that regardless of the purpose, the Traits of Writing “is a language teachers and students can use to describe effective writing.” At AIS we can use a common language that connects all written work.
Argument writing is one type of writing that was mentioned in all PD workshops. Students should be able to write arguments to support claims with clear reason and relevant evidence-and they should be able to do so well. Designed for middle and high school students, the activities in this book will enable students to write strong arguments and evaluate the arguments of others. Teaching Argument Writing begins with how to teach simple arguments and moves onto those that are more complex, showing step-by-step how to teach students to write and evaluate: arguments of fact, arguments of judgment, and arguments of policy.