It has happened - finally. Two weeks ago I collected a class of student Fluency Writes and, across the board, they were much, much better than I had anticipated.
The only difference from other years in which the Fluency Writes were "ok", (but without a doubt much better than students could have ever done when I used to teach directly from the textbook in a very traditional manner), and this year in which the Fluency Writes are consistently better written, is that I forced myself to go SLOWer in my teaching and to not rush into new grammar structures and vocabulary words. When I thought students knew the materials "well enough", instead of moving on, I created yet another story to recycle the words or another activity which included the use of the words in a different manner.
I was a bit concerned when, in mid October, I realized I was at least 3 weeks behind where I was in my lessons from the previous year, but it turns out that the extra time working with the structures resulted in students writing better.
Below are two writing examples:
These two examples are not necessarily from the top two students in the class. I remember when I took the papers home to read over the weekend, after reading the first 3 or 4 that were really well written, I was expecting the quality to soon go down. After all, surely the majority of the class couldn't write that well. Wrong - the majority of the class really did write "that well".
Background on the Fluency Write:
- I had "storyasked" a story similar to the Larry the vampire story; later told them the story about Larry el vampire; they worked with sketches and matched sentences to them; they put the events in order; retold the story to their partner; and helped create a few other stories that used some of the same vocabulary.
- I then projected a collage of the sketches we had used in class to help remind them of the plot, and students had 10 minutes to write.
- I underlined the correct writing in orange; I used a green marker to underline a sentence that wasn't correct and the following day asked students to work with a partner to decide what would be a better way to write that sentence. I didn't make any (well, maybe a few) marks on the papers after the first 100 words.
- This was their second Fluency Write of the semester; the first one was on a different story.