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Friday, December 16, 2011

TAG TEAM Writing Method

I have been throwing around a few ideas trying to conceptualize my idea of effective writing instruction into a pedagogical model. Being a teacher I of course needed a catchy acronym: TAG TEAM.

For me the term captures the essence of writing as a social practice and a collaborative classroom effort.

Note on a Strange but True Story: I had the the idea of TAG-Targeted Areas of Growth, as a method for differentiating my writing instruction. It was the day I read that Randy "The Macho Man" Savage tragically died that I formulated the model. I share not because I was a huge wrestling fan, not even a fan of Slim Jims, but because it shows that pre-planning and ideas for writing come from anywhere.

TAG- The key to the instruction approach will be to make  individualized pedagogical decisions based on data collected from formative assessments.

Each student, in conjunction with the classroom teacher, will choose Target Areas for Growth based on the District Wide Argumentative Writing Rubric. Setting specific writing goals is an evidence-based strategy for improving writing.
I think the writing rubrics we give to kids over over bloated and useless. Seven criterion with 4 scales of quality do nothing for a kid. They may give us some summative data but they are useless for formative assessments that improve instruction.
So under TAG one student who struggles with organization may just choose to focus on the criterion on your rubric around organization and develop a TAG such as "use details to support a clear main idea." Now through the revision process that student puts all their focus into that TAG.
Then when it is time to assess progress you can have the student highlight the areas in between drafts that address the TAG. This makes your assessment time more efficient and effective.
TEAM This program recognizes that the best writing instruction requires a collaborative environment for students to develop the skills and habits of good writing. Therefore it utilizes research based best practices involving feedback, modeling, and collaborative writing.

Together- The TAG TEAM approach recognizes that a writing classroom requires a classroom of writers. Collaborative pedagogical practices must be the center of any curriculum.
At the student level it requires the teacher and the writer to conference, either f2f or virtually, to identify and asses Target Areas for Growth.

At the group level students will meet to work with each other on editing and revising and to assess their peers on their Target Areas for Growth.

At the classroom level collaborative writing assignments will be used throughout any unit of instruction and embed writing as a tool for inquiry.
Evidence- The TAG TEAM approach recognizes that evidence must  inform practice. Students and teachers will draw from evidenced-based writing strategies for planning, revising and editing compositions across disciplines. Student growth is not simply assessed in the products of writing. Instead the TAG TEAM approach also looks for growth in the feedback students leave for peers, reflections students provide on their own writing, and comments made during conferencing. 

Authentic- The TAG TEAM approach recognizes that writing instruction must offer opportunities for students to write their way into a discipline. Therefore the learning activities must be driven not only by skills of writing but also the unique content demands of different subject areas; and the digital literary lives students lead. Students will use the TAG TEAM approach to follow disciplinary specific writing processes. 

Models- The TAG TEAM approach recognizes that models are a scientifically research based method for improving writing. Therefore students will be afforded the opportunity to analyze models of varying quality and to evaluate annotated comments left by other students and teachers.

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