A freshman academy in a New Jersey district was working on the comparison of two different genres—in this case, a short story and poem. We learned the advantages of writing in stages, calling on five or six students at random after the introduction, (and following through with each paragraph) in order for the teacher as well as the rest of the class to assess the progress, pointing out both strengths and weaknesses. Those students not called on at that point can compare their introductory paragraphs to those being read to determine if they need to revise a section or if they have met the criteria. When each paragraph is evaluated orally in this manner, students feel more at ease and ultimately are more successful with the writing process in general. Naturally we discussed various ways to include relevant textual material as support for their points. Peer responses at these intervals are vital in helping classmates reexamine their work and make changes they deem necessary. Providing models of final products using two different works (as opposed to those being discussed) as well as writing with the students help create a writing workshop atmosphere, where discussions are natural (rather than intimidating), each session becoming more complex, indicative of the higher-level thinking necessary to complete more rigorous assignments.
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