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The Writing Process: Response Group Strategies
NNWP's Campbell Valle asks teachers everywhere to share ways they inspire student response

Welcome to WritingFix's Response Exchange Page. I am Campbell Valle, a middle school teacher and a Consultant for the Northern Nevada Writing Project. I have been involved in a variety of NNWP Projects since going through their Summer Institute in 2007. You can find lessons and materials I created during their workshops posted at WritingFix's iPods Across the Curriculum Resource Page and its Compare & Contrast Resource Page. Most recently, I helped annotate new expository samples for both seventh and eighth graders at WritingFix's Resources for the Nevada Writing Exam Page.

My original work with the NNWP, however, focused on the way I taught my students to serve as responders to each other during classroom writing time. Because of that work, they asked me to host the page you're currently viewing at WritingFix.

Why focus on response? With very few exceptions (such as diaries or some poetry), writing is a tool for communicating with others. How can students be expected to create something expressive and worthwhile if they never have an opportunity to share?

Unfortunately, in many classrooms, response is the most easily dismissed or forgotten stage of the writing process. Like me, you may have experienced disappointment or frustration with response in the classroom. Too often we have students conference with peers, often guided by a checklist, and see little application of the feedback in the revision stage. Final copies are identical to rough drafts.

In “Responders are Taught, Not Born,” Jay Simmons found that the solution to this problem is explicit instruction in response. Without instruction, students are likely to find mostly surface errors. With instruction, though, they point out a writer’s strengths and what can be done to address a paper’s weaknesses. When students respond, they spend more time truly thinking about the process of writing and what makes a piece worth reading. As a result, they not only help their peers, they also become better writers themselves.

Furthermore, in order to be effective responders, students must become part of a community of writers with a common vocabulary and goal. Community-building becomes both a means for, and benefit of, response.

On this page, I hope you will find useful tools for building a community of responders and helping students learn to respond in a variety of ways. I'll start with these five techniques from my own classroom.

Response Resources from the Classroom of Campbell Valle

My Hats

With this activity, students can visually process and share the differences between thinking as a reader and thinking as a writer. This will form a foundation for the types of response they will need to do.

Responding as a Writer

With this activity, students consider their strong and weak traits before supporting one another as fellow writers.

Chez Response -- A Response Menu

This is a fun way to differentiate instruction by giving students choice in their responses.  It is easy to use with descriptive writing but can possibly be used or adapted for other types as well.

Responding as a Reader

This response sheet guides students to code one another’s work, giving insight into what a reader thinks about while reading a piece of writing. The “literature codes” refer to the following: predict, summarize, question, connect, visualize, and evaluate. The students can add their own codes in the blank spaces if desired.

These are Campbell's original tools and ideas. If you have an original tool or idea, you can post it below on this page.

Click here for details.

Writing Conferences Guide

This guide is one of the best ways I have found to facilitate meaningful conversation and response in a secondary classroom. It is truly a collaborative effort. Although I designed the format, the questions came from Barry Lane’s The Reviser’s Toolbox, NNWP’s Secondary Writing Guide, and my students’ feedback and suggestions!

Want to participate in this developing WritingFix page? If you have a favorite original lesson or tool for teaching your students to respond better to each other's drafts that you would be willing to let us post here, we will send you one of the NNWP Print Publications in exchange for us being allowed to feature it. Contact us at webmaster@writingfix.com for details or to summarize a response technique/tool that you'd be willing to send us.

On this Page:

Response Resources from Campbell Valle
Response Resources from NNWP Print Guides
WritingFix Response Exchange: Teachers Share Classroom Tools

On Campbell's Bookshelf...

Reviser's Toolbox

by Barry Lane

This book has many fantastic ideas for revision and response, including a very helpful chapter on training students to be good critics.

Campbell's iPod Lesson:

Teaching Character Traits
Campbell's Compare & Contrast Lesson:

Poems for Two Voices

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Response Resources from the NNWP's out-of-print
Elementary Writing Guide
Response Resources from the NNWP's out-of-print
Secondary Writing Guide

In 1995, Teacher Consultants from the Northern Nevada Writing Project worked together to create the NNWP's first print guide for teachers: The Elementary Writing Guide. The Washoe County School District generously agreed to print 1500 copies of this 400-page resource to distribute among every elementary teacher in Northern Nevada's largest county.

In 2000, the EWG underwent a revision, which aligned the guide's original content to Nevada's new academic standards. The WCSD again agreed to generously pay for the re-printing and distribution of the new guide.

In 2007, the guide was printed for the last time. The rising price of paper inspired the NNWP to began posting the EWG's contents on-line here at WritingFix. Below, you will find two resources from the guide's response section for you to open, print and use. More will be coming.

  • Teaching the Process of Response This one-page elementary lesson can easily be adapted at any grade level to model and teach response.
  • Modeling Response Although this guide supports teachers in conducting one-on-one conferences with students, it can be used very effectively to model response with a whole class before releasing students to respond to one another’s writing.
  • Community Building Scavenger Hunt Using activities such as this will help break the ice and begin building relationships within your classroom.
  • Elementary Quick Response This simple activity facilitates both positive and constructive response.

In 1998, Teacher Consultants from the Northern Nevada Writing Project worked together to create the NNWP's second print guide for teachers: The Secondary Writing Guide. The Washoe County School District generously agreed to print 500 copies of this 450-page resource to distribute among every secondary language arts teacher in Northern Nevada's largest county.

In 2004, the SWG underwent a revision, which aligned the guide's original content to Nevada's new academic standards. A generous grant from the Walter S Johnson Foundation paid for the revision and distribution of the new guide.

In 2007, the guide was printed for the last time. The rising price of paper inspired the NNWP to began posting the SWG's contents on-line here at WritingFix. Below, you will find four of the revision section's contents for you to use. More will be coming.

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WritingFix Response Exchange: Teachers Sharing Original Classroom Tools

At WritingFix, we have shared classroom ideas freely since 2001. Recently, we began asking the world to share back with us. We are seeking complete lessons, resources, and student samples, and we send complimentary copies of NNWP Publications to teachers who share ideas that ultimately get posted at WritingFix.

This is your opportunity to share back with us and possibly earn a classroom resource from the Northern Nevada Writing Project. Below are the types of tools we are seeking to include on this response resource page:

We're Currently Seeking Three Types of Response Group Resources
Share and you could earn a complimentary copy of one of the NNWP Publications!

Share original classroom
Community Building Tools
that you use to create authentic response groups in your classroom

Teachers can't just throw students into a response group and expect them to function as a community of writers. Teachers need to design activities like this one, which comes from the NNWP's Elementary Writing Guide.

If you have an original introductory tool or activity that prepares your writers to succeed as response groups, you can share it here.

Share original classroom
Purpose-Setting Tools
that help your students ask for specific advice from each other

Many teachers have student writers pre-determine how they'd like their peers to respond to their drafts before they enter a response group. This can give authentic purpose to one's time in response group. Teachers need to design activities like this one, which comes from this page's host, Campbell.

If you have an original cover-sheet or tool that helps students seek specific purpose from a response group, you can share it here.

Share original classroom
Meaningful Checklists or Discussion Tools
that your students complete for each other as they work in response groups

While reading each other's drafts, many students have teacher-designed tools that assist them in having meaningful discussions about one another's writing after reading it. Teachers can to design original tools like this one to give students language to have meaningful conversations.

If you have an original checklist or like-tool that helps your students communicate with one another while in response groups, you can share it here.

What Teachers Have Shared So Far...

Nevada elementary teacher, Julie Leimbach, shared the following tools she created to help teach response skills:
Nevada teacher trainer, Corbett Harrison, shared the following tools he created for writer's workshop:
   
   
   


 

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© Copyright 2015 - WritingFix- All Rights Reserved.
Please, share the resources you find on these pages freely with fellow educators, but please leave any page citations on handouts intact, and please give authorship credit to the cited teachers who created these wonderful lessons and resources. Thanks in advance for honoring other educators' intellectual property.

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