Amite High School’s new “writing blitz” strategy is helping students more easily learn how to generate and organize their thoughts into written form, Dana V. McLin, a reading interventionist at the school, said in a news release.
Amite High School English teachers share the belief that their primary objective is to teach thinking skills, she said. Thinking skills transfer to and benefit all other courses of study, she said.
English teachers use a variety of resources to teach thinking skills, one of which is nonfiction articles on social and scientific topics or a blend of both, McLin said. Most of the texts used require students to contemplate and infer implications of national and global moral social issues.
Through these resources, they teach skills in understanding the organization of the text — noting how writers develop, support, expand and relate topics and issues to their own or other people’s personal lives. In turn, the students learn how to develop their own ideas and express them coherently in written form. However, as anyone who has struggled with writing can understand, she said, the process is not always easily learned.
The writing blitz program introduces essential elements of logical thinking and helps with the process.
English students participate in a boot camp-style workshop on Fridays.
The writing blitz strategy is a targeted, intensive effort to improve students’ writing abilities, teaching them how to cohesively bring the essential elements of logical thinking together to produce a powerful writing piece, the release states. The process enables students to break down writing prompts, annotate texts to develop a clear understanding through thorough comprehension and then gives them a formula to follow when writing.
The process has allowed students to complete in-depth writing assignments that include evidence, inferences and coherence in a structured format while still allowing for creativity.
“Students are no longer apprehensive, and they do not hesitate before writing,” Curriculum Specialist Renee Carpenter said. “A lot of the anxiety students face when writing extended responses begins with first understanding what they are supposed to write about and then how to get started.
“What’s so unique and amazing about being a part of the writing blitz is that this process is building their writing ability — period, overlapping all content areas and providing necessary college and career readiness.”
English III teacher Jamie Rhoto said the strategy allows for differentiated instruction for students of varying writing skill levels.
Although the immediate goal of the writing blitz strategy is to improve students’ performance on the English II and English III end-of-course tests, the ultimate goal is to affect students throughout their adult lives by developing skills that last a lifetime, such as the ability to think logically, organize and justify ideas, and clearly communicate and express themselves.
Sophomore Joneika Parker said that before learning the strategy, her writing was unorganized, had no defined purpose, lacked a logical development of ideas and basically communicated nothing.
“I would just start writing thoughts off the top of my head with no idea of what I wanted to say, where I was going, or when I would stop. Sometimes, I would just stop midsentence,” Parker said. “I looked through my book sack from last year that contained some papers I had written, and I realized that my writing looked like something a kindergartner had written. I don’t even want to look at things I’ve written in the past because it’s embarrassing. I feel ashamed about how I used to write compared to how I am writing now.”
After learning the strategy, she said that the No. 1 way it has changed her writing is that now her thoughts are organized.
“In the past, when I showed my writing to my mom, she would shake her head and tell me that my writing didn’t make any sense,” she said. “Now that I am using the strategy, my writing has gotten much better.”
The writing blitz strategy, developed by Principal Terran Perry, gives students a basic format they can adapt to various writing activities and leaves room for creativity. The strategy’s process gives students an automatic “go-to” format to quickly analyze and break down a writing prompt, determine a stance/claim and pick quotes that support, provide solutions and give examples that explain their points. English II teacher Valerie Thornton said “the students don’t need to stress, because they know the process.”
“Students’ writing is much improved, but that’s not the only thing that has changed,” Thornton said. “One of the big positives is their change in attitude about writing. I believe the cause of the change is that they’ve gained confidence in themselves. They have come to trust in their abilities to think, make real-life, personal connections between themselves and the texts, and compose solid pieces of writing that reflect organization of their ideas.”