|> R & D
The school involved in this project is a CMI school in Tsuen Wan. The teacher identified a group of struggling writers in the vocabulary and grammar intervention programs tailored for some less able students in S1-S3. Those struggling writers showed:
- no interest in writing
- no engagement in writing
- inhibitions towards writing
To cater for learner diversity, the teacher decided to run an after-school writing intervention program to provide focused and timely support, as well as additional time & opportunities for writing to those struggling writers.
- Identification of Concerns
A questionnaire was administered before the project to collect the views of those struggling writers towards writing. The findings revealed that those students:
- thought writing was boring
- thought writing was difficult because they did not know what and how to write
- thought writing was frustrating because they experienced a sense of failures in writing
A reflection was also done on the conventional approach to the teaching of writing:
- giving little time and support for thinking and planning
- allowing 1 attempt to write
- emphasising the written product
- focusing on accuracy
It was found that this product approach emphasises on merely giving writing assignments but neglects the teaching and learning of writing, which failed to improve the struggling writers・ writing interest, skills and confidence.
The mismatch between the lacks of the struggling writers and the focuses of the conventional teaching practices in writing convinced the teacher of the need to explore an alternative approach to teach writing more effectively among the struggling writers.
- Strategies used
The writing process is ．central・ to learning to write (Marie Cheung 1994). To enable the struggling writers to experience the writing process to develop the skills of what to write and how to write, the process writing approach was adopted in the writing intervention program to:
- give more time and support for thinking and planning
- allow time for drafting and revising
- emphasise the thinking processes underlying writing
- focus on meaning
As the process approach stresses content before mechanics, it can relieve the struggling writers・ burden of learning to write and learning language simultaneously. This makes writing more manageable to the weak learners who may then feel better engaged in the writing process and therefore reduce their sense of failures in writing, which will in turn, improve their attitude towards writing.
Adjusting the nature of instruction is essential for learners who are experiencing difficulty (Strickland, Ganske & Monroe 2002). As students with writing problems need more intensive instruction and greater support (Harris & Graham 1996), explicit teaching methods and structured instruction were provided in the intervention program.
Extrinsic motivation plays a role in bringing the reluctant writers to write and situational interest may be a necessary first step to spur their engagement in writing (Strickland, Ganske & Monroe 2002). To set up a situation that appeals to the struggling writers, an interesting writing topic and fun and game-like situations were incorporated into the writing instruction.
Effective communication and collaboration are essential to becoming a successful learner. It is primarily through dialogue and examining different perspectives that students become knowledgeable, strategic, self-determined, and empathetic. Moreover, involving students in real-world tasks and linking new information to prior knowledge requires effective communication and collaboration among teachers, students, and others. (Tinzmann, Jones, Fennimore, Bakker, Fine & Pierce, 1990)
Students・ collaboration and learning attitude will be observed and assessed by themselves, their group members and the teacher.Rubrics are developed and discussed at the beginning of the unit.