In my position, I can influence the reading-writing program by collaborating with the school literacy team. The literacy team meets each month to talk about what is going on in classrooms and to see if we are on track to meet our school improvement goals. Another way that I could influence the program is to participate in professional development that is offered to support ELA. For example, The Writing Revolution book study and PLC that our school did last year.
One strategy that I could use to help strengthen the reading-writing connection with shared oral communication is the implementation of Socratic Seminars. Having students explore and examine text with a purpose is beneficial. In my classroom, students use the first read to list wonderings and things that they may not understand, such as an unfamiliar word. The second read is used to answer guiding questions provided by the teacher. Then, the students have a Socratic Seminar to collaborate. They share their wonderings and discuss their answers to the guiding questions. They can also discuss what the unfamiliar words mean and use context clues to come up with a definition that they all agree on. After the Socratic Seminar, I give the students a related writing prompt. They can use their original notes from their 1st and 2nd read and they can refer to their notes from the seminar. The students love to use this strategy.
Writing should be an integral part of literacy programs at schools because it helps to further cement concepts by allowing students to organize their thoughts and put things in their own words. As cited by Yildiz and Akdag (2021), “A study carried out by Emig, detected that writing to learn was different from other components of communication such as speaking, listening, and reading, and revealed that writing to learn was more effective in learning” (p. 197).
One important way to support language development is to build student vocabulary. Understanding vocabulary helps students to communicate orally and in writing. As Swanson et al. (2017) mentioned, “to improve students’ comprehension of text so that students can ultimately acquire content knowledge, it is essential for teachers to provide explicit vocabulary instruction and teach students independent word learning strategies (e.g., reading around the word)” (p. 92).
Swanson, E., Vaughn, S., & Wexler, J. (2017). Enhancing adolescents’ comprehension of text by building vocabulary knowledge. Teaching Exceptional Children, 50(2), 84–94.
Yildiz, E., & Akdag, S. (2021). The effects of cooperative learning and writing to learn applications on academic achievement. International Journal of Progressive Education, 17(1), 196–209.