On Modeling Writing for Your Students

In her book, Creating Writers, Spandel notes that most of the modeling that was done for us (now, teachers of writers) “…involved assigning, collecting, and correcting writing.”  We saw our teachers manage and assess writing, but we did not get to experience teachers who wrote, shared, or revised in front of us. We were not privy to their writing processes.  I grew up in a time that emphasized product over process.  Maybe that’s why I didn’t really learn a lot about how to grow as a writer until I came to the Pennsylvania Writing Project housed in West Chester University.

One of the things that helped me the most was reading myriad professional books. Bruce Morgan (2005) models writing by gathering students in his “Oval Office” where he sits in a comfortable chair with all the materials he needs at his fingertips: chart stand, chart paper, markers of different colors, and picture books (mentor texts, I would guess). He gathers his writers together in this manner because he believes it “…strengthens the community” and helps him monitor students’ engagement and attentiveness. Students gather here daily to observe him  modeling writing while he thinks aloud.  He talks about his process – the things that are going right, the things he is struggling with, and where he’s stuck. He will ask students for help, and their responses help him assess their understanding. Morgan has high hopes for his students. Continue reading