Carrie Eneix and I worked on a long-term project with ninth grade students referenced in the following posts:
- Poetry uses the Left Brain: Creative Writing, and Research?
- Writer’s Workshop: Effective Peer Feedback.
To briefly summarize the process, here were the stages:
- Introducing research in creative writing in conjunction with The Secret Life of Bees
- A creative writing assignment incorporating research with a focus to either, A. use an animal or creature as a metaphor or B. to write as a member of a “self-selected” community
- A writer’s workshop to share work and receive feedback
- Performance of the final work in front of the class
While this assignment was inherently about “creative writing,” it met many of the Core Curriculum Standards while also engaging students enough to create some of the very best writing and research I have seen in a classroom. Some of her students’ work literally gave me chills. I would love to post it here, but alas, I am not able. I do have many of them recorded and can show them to any interested teacher in the district.
Here is a list of all of the standards addressed by the three-week unit:
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3 (Substandards A-E). Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1–3 up to and including grades 9–10 here.)
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas…
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
From going through this process, I think I learned how assessing and teaching the skills in the standards can be a rich, creative experience. It also confirmed for me that students are willing to do amazing work and put in the hard hours if the task is worthwhile and engaging to them; the concepts of rigor and relevance really are entwined.
Overall, I would say working with Eneix and her students was one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences I have had thus far as a coach. Eneix was willing to take a number of risks in the classroom with me- which is not an easy thing to do. In addition, because I was in her classroom for a longer period of time, I felt I really got to know her style and her students; it became a true “co-teaching” experience.