By Mary Kimball, The Learning Center Director
“An author hates to write, but loves having written.” - Oscar Madison
No other school endeavor can bring forth more feelings of apprehension than a writing assignment. Students are expected to write in a variety of styles—narrative, informative, and persuasive, while at the same time demonstrate how to spell, use correct grammar, capitalize, and punctuate, all while they are organizing their thoughts and ideas.
The quintessential feature of successful learning revolves around the proficiency and competency of the reading and writing skills of a student. How do we develop successful writing skills when for some, especially those with learning differences, feel trepidation, fear, anxiety, and angst around the writing process?
In The Learning Center (TLC), we have the opportunity to reimagine writing and provide students an environment where we can scaffold and personalize the experience to best meet individual needs. Research informs us that in order to foster student engagement, we need to have authentic writing goals and contexts. This means we prompt students to write about personal interest topics, investigate, and find examples of different kinds of writing.
Students also need to write for a variety of audiences, buy into the idea that writing is a form of communication, and revise their work to improve communication. We need to nurture functional beliefs about writing by displaying ways that teachers use writing personally, finding tasks that assure student success, and providing opportunities for students to build expertise in areas they will write about.
The TLC faculty considered these and other critical factors in developing motivation for our students to write. This led to the creation of our center’s newspaper, TLC Talks: Teamwork Literature Creations.
Once we announced to our students that we were going to produce a paper, they were highly invested in its creation. They were eager to know who their audience was, how many articles they could each publish, how frequently we would publish, if they could illustrate their work, and if they could co-author publications. Students were committed to the process of producing quality written work, and we found firsthand that providing purposeful opportunities to write is key to motivation.
Last school year, TLC Talks: Teamwork Literature Creations was published once a term and featured selected entries written by every TLC student. The paper was produced for our TLC families, McGillis faculty and staff, and students. And when each edition was published, students throughout McGillis devoured it. It was a beautiful experience to hear them speak of their TLC peers’ work, how to improve the quality of their own work, and what we could do differently to improve the aesthetic of the paper. We had buy-in!
4th Grade: National Park Essay
Imagine a mesmerizing spot with incredible views and epic sunsets where the night sky is extraordinary. Capitol Reef National Park is a stunning place with history, astonishing views, and fantastic things to do. Capitol Reef is an amazing location to visit.
You spy towns and people in orchards. Capitol Reef’s stunning history is compelling. You can learn about the people of Fruita, see the watermark made by water. The Fremont Native Americans and the Piute settled in the land and grew corn, squash and grain. If you go there you can see petroglyphs - rock art from the native people. The Mormon settlers settled on the land after. They farmed and lived in the town of Fruita! The orchards are still there today and you can pick apples.
Looking around you spot grass sparkling with dew and spy rocks on fire! Capitol Reef’s epic views make it rise beyond anything you’ve ever seen. Something caught your eye and it is the water pocket fold. It is a 100-mile warp in the earth’s crust! Have you ever wondered how Capitol Reef got its name? Capitol Reef has giant white rock domes that look like a capitol building. Capitol Reef also had red rocks that look like the bottom of a reef.
Capitol Reef is packed full with fun things to do. You can go on hikes like Gooseneck, Capital Gorge and Sunset Point. Some other things to do are camp, look at constellations and pick apples. If you like camping then go to the Capital Reef. There are lots of camping grounds. Capitol reef is full of fun things to do that you should go explore.
There are so many things to do in Capitol Reef. You can learn history like the petroglyphs and the town of Fruita and you can hike... to the Goosenecks and Capital Gorge. You can also see extraordinary views. Capitol Reef is full of things to do and you should go and explore them.