Pittsburgh Sterrett is building a culture around a shared vision
Effective writing is an essential skill in today’s society. Pittsburgh Sterrett 6-8 focuses on the developing strong writers so students are not only prepared for high school, but for college and their lives as adults in the years ahead.
Whether they’re writing to inform, analyze, or entertain, students are taught to communicate well and express their thoughts clearly. It starts with strong instructional leadership. Through a partnership with the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project, Principal Michelle Holly works closely with teachers during professional development sessions to ensure that they all use the same effective strategies for teaching and assessing student writing projects.
Holly says they utilize three levels of feedback to help students improve their writing. Naturally, teachers provide the initial feedback, checking to see if the student has followed the established rubric for the assignment. Then students read each other’s papers, discuss the work and provide another round of feedback. After the students have revised their writing, teachers offer yet another round of feedback and a grade for the work.
According to Holly, once a month all students at Sterrett are given the same writing prompt. Teachers bring the results to a professional development session where other teachers read and assess the student writing. “We want to see if students across the same grade level have the same strengths and the same weaknesses,” says eighth-grade English teacher Yolanda Wilkins. “Once we know that, we can discuss what strategies we can use to strengthen the weaknesses moving forward.”
This rigorous approach to teaching the writing process helps students understand how to create a proficient piece of work in any subject area. It also prepares them to succeed on the Text Opinion Analysis essay that is a part of PSSA testing.
See more on how Pittsburgh Sterrett is developing strong writers in this video: https://vimeo.com/album/4181434/video/185642019