The Writing Revolution

One of the most effective ways for a student to display and communicate the knowledge they have acquired is by learning to successfully compose their thoughts and ideas through writing.  Oftentimes, students are evaluated by choosing the best answer out of three or four possible answers.  In reality, thinking and learning are much more nuanced than choosing a formulated answer.  That’s where the importance of writing comes into play.

This school year, Haywood High School is implementing “The Writing Revolution” in order to teach writing skills across the curriculum while also giving students the opportunity to learn critical thinking skills.  

The mission of “The Writing Revolution” is to transform instruction across the curriculum through a proven, coherent method that enables all students to develop the literacy and critical thinking skills they need to engage productively in society. 

Principal Britanny Avent explained the starting point for implementation at Haywood High School.

“The first thing we did was talk about simple grammar.  Then, we went into talking about sentences.  All we’re focusing on right now is sentence building.  That’s the first step,” she said.

As students are able to master the foundational skills of effective sentence building across various subjects, they are able to synthesize ideas that form across the curriculum in an effective way.  As that information is synthesized, communicating what they have learned in a detailed and coherent way is the next step in the process.  Understanding sentence variety is an important part of that written communication.

“We’re having the students focus on the four sentence types.  We’re teaching them to extend sentences in order to provide more information.  We’re looking at how to use appositives in writing,” Brittany said.  “We’re using this to move away from guided notes.  We want the teacher to give them a fragment, and the student fills out the rest of that idea using what they know about the topic and makes it a full sentence.”

Copying notes from a lecture or a PowerPoint is something everyone has probably done at some point in their educational career, but that practice is antiquated and not an effective way for students to truly learn content.  The Writing Revolution gives students the skills to flesh out ideas they are learning in class.  

“Note-taking and learning is not just about copying or filling in blanks; the students are using their knowledge to make that fragment a complete and nuanced thought.  Our goal is to increase thinking in every content area,” Brittany explained.

While certain subjects have their own principles, ideas, and specific vocabulary, learning is most effective when ideas can be taught and connected across the curriculum.  The curriculum at Haywood High School lends itself to this type of synthesis and the writing connects all of it.  

“I love how our curriculum connects from subject to subject.  Students can make connections from English class into Biology and then we can reinforce that with writing,” Brittany explained  

By using The Writing Revolution across all classes, Haywood High School students are learning foundational skills needed for written communication while also building critical thinking skills in all subject areas.  

“Writing has to be taught the same way reading is taught- systematic and skill-based.  It has to be practiced every day and embedded in content,” Brittany said.  

And, that is exactly what is happening at Haywood High School.