Larry Ferlazzo notes in his Educational Leadership article “Micro-Writing for English Learners,” that “short burst of writing can boost English language learners’ confidence and skills.” Ferlazzo explains this to be because micro-writing:
As a bonus, the benefit extends beyond our EL students. For all learners—not just EL learners—the above bulleted list still applies. Plus, the recently published Ed Surge article “Micro-Writing is having a Macro Impact on Identity Development,” Bryan Christopher notes that micro-writing can be used as a check for understanding, a pre-write for what will later be shared aloud, or even as a vocabulary builder. Moreover, he notes that, “the value of micro-writing goes beyond academics, addressing social and emotional needs like self-perception and confidence.”
Personally, I love that micro-writing often pushes students to the highest level of Bloom’s, but without taking up large periods of valuable class time. When students write, even just for a small amount of time, they hit the “Creating” stage (level 6) of Bloom’s Taxonomy because they are generating something new with their knowledge. As a bonus, in getting to level 6 of Bloom’s, students often cross through the “Evaluating” stage (level 5) as they create an argument, make a value judgement, or evaluate a problem.
If you would like to try micro-writing in your own classroom, here are three strategies to help you get started:
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- Every student is engaged – even the shy ones. It is easier to read and discuss what someone else has written.
- It provides the opportunity to think, write, and discuss open-ended questions. The instructional dialogue that ensues leads to higher levels of analysis and inquiry.
- It validates and affirms sociocentric, cooperative, and relational cultural behaviors.
- Finally, it is very versatile. You can have each group grapple with the same question or prompt for 10 minutes and move on with another aspect of the lesson. Several teachers have assigned each group a different question or prompt, and then had groups get up and move to a new campfire. This adds the element of movement as well as diverse perspectives.
Stop and Scribble
- Every student is engaged in answering the questions.
- Students can choose to answer the questions they feel confident about.
- The anonymity of the answers on a student’s sheet makes it easier to discuss and pose questions about whether or not it is correct.
- This activity addresses multiple cultural behaviors: (1) sense of immediacy, (2) spontaneity, (3) dynamic attention span, (4) musicality, (5) sociocentric, and (6) communalism.
As always, if you want to try one of these, or any new activity, just ask an Instructional Coach or an Implementation Associate to come and help. Together you can make it work for your students’ benefit.
Connect with Ellen via email or by calling 507.328.5376
Hollie, Sharroky. Strategies for Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching and Learning. Shell Education. 2015.
The following process was used:
- Each student was assigned a color and a number (i.e. "Blue 1").
- Students joined groups by color, and each group was assigned a skill.
- Each student's number was used to assign their rotation (i.e. "Blue 1" was assigned as a "CNA" for "Skill A").
- As the "CNA" performed the task on the "Patient" the third student acted as the "Tester". The "Tester" then used a checklist/rubric to track the steps needed for "Skill A".
- The "Tester" and "Patient" then gave formative feedback to the "CNA" and the students jotted down notes on their performance.
- They rotated. The student who played the "CNA" moves into the "Tester" role for the next round while the other two stray (or move on) to the "Skill B" and perform a new role.
- In the end, each student had the opportunity to perform each role and was given an opportunity to be formatively assessed as a "CNA".
If you are wondering why she did not apply an actual grade to the assessment, you may wish to read the previous blog post "Grading for Learning". By using peer assessment, the teacher reduced her own workload while still providing quality feedback for the students. There are many ways to give feedback to students while helping them review at the end of the semester; for more ideas see the blog post "Quality Feedback Structures that Save Teachers Time and Keep Students Learning".
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