"The night seemed long. Wilbur's stomach was empty and his mind was full. And when your stomach is empty and your mind is full, it's always hard to sleep." EB White
This past weekend, North High opened the first school based food pantry in the city. Organizers were nervous of the results and impact that it would have the first weekend. There was a tremendous turnout which was both encouraging and heartbreaking.
Tuesday, when we return from the long weekend, we are set to begin our daily writing expectation in each class. There are many reasons writing is important and why we have set this expectation. First, writing makes student thinking visible. When students put onto paper (or insert into a text box) what they know about the content, we can easily see what they understand or where they struggle. Students can guess on a multiple choice, true/false, or similar style question. When they write about what they learned, how they learned it, or why theylearned it, deeper understanding is established. Secondly, we must prepare students for next generation challenges. Thosechallenges may be high stakes assessments, college entrance essays, or the work force. For these reasons, our students must become better writers.
As we begin making writing a daily practice, focus on content. Don’t worry about giving feedback on specific writing skills—that will come later. Give feedback on content targets. We know that through continual practice, student writing will get better. Writing every day in our classes will help us to identify areas we must focus on to further improve our student's writing.
The teachers who have already worked to include writing in their classes are impressive. We have observed students completing numeric problems and then writing to explain their thinking while solving the problem. Teachers are helping students set up blogs for journaling, and some students have already written and presented speeches about new content. We are off to a great start.
We have three Consulting Teachers who are ready to supportteachers by providing strategies, modeling, and collaborating on lessons as needed. The administrative team is ready to monitor the implementation and identify areas where support and resources are needed. Teacher success with implementing daily writing centers on support, embracing risk, and sharing successes with colleagues throughout the building.
I look forward to supporting teachers in this process.
Ryan Dumkrieger is the principal of Sioux City North High School.