This is Part Two of a three part series describing how teachers implemented a strategy to enhance students creative writing expression. Read Part One, where Anna, Lisa and Anita introduce the strategy that teachers and researchers developed to guide deeper learning by students.
The process was simple…
Using a rubric, we compared the creativity of the thinking routines, as well as the pre and post writing samples. Students were also given the opportunity to self-assess their work along the journey. In line with our Junior School Teaching and Learning Framework, students were also provided with Learning Intentions and Success Criteria at the beginning of each lesson.
Results - Prep
By the end of the intervention, the writing was more detailed with greater description. The depth and richness of the language used had improved. You will also notice the use of a simile in Fig. 4.
The Prep teacher found that students who were taught a thinking strategy and applied it were able to respond with more varied answers. The students were able to pre-activate a strategy they were familiar with to think deeply and then write more detailed texts.
Over the following weeks this strategy was used in other subjects. There was a noticeable improvement in the depth of discussion in a number of students and the number of thoughtful connections they had made. It was particularly evident in assessment tasks where the students were required to share their learning and thoughts.
It is important to note that even though there was an improvement with the writing pieces in the Prep class, it was more significant in Years 2 and 3.
Results - Year 2
When the students began the thinking routine ‘See, Think, Wonder’ 84 percent of responses related to what students ‘saw’, 9 percent related to what they ‘thought’ and only 7 percent to what they ‘wondered'.
The students participated in teacher guided ‘See, Think Wonder’ activities both individually and as a group. They shared their responses and discussed the concept of creative thinking and risk taking – not just recording safe or obvious answers. The more creative and obscure responses were applauded and discussed - asking the student to explain further - “What made you think that?”
By the end of the intervention, the results changed substantially - 53 percent - I See, 17 percent - I Think, 30 percent - I Wonder.
Whilst the ‘I See’ observation still had the highest number of responses, it was noted that the detail in what they could see improved e.g. “I see a fish” at the start compared with “I see an orange fish with big eyes, scales and fins.”
The data we collected demonstrated an increase of ’I think’ and ‘I wonder’ statements, which contained a higher level of thinking and greater use of varied and specific vocabulary and language.
Our next challenge was to transfer this strategy to their writing.
The student’s writing became more descriptive, creative and detailed, and there is evidence of subject specific language. The content was much more interesting to read and assisted the reader in visualising the experience.
In summary, with explicit teaching of the thinking routine ‘See, Think, Wonder’ and the ‘5 Senses Brainstorming’ strategy, students were supported to take risks and develop and apply deeper thinking to their learning, showing an overall improvement in the quality of their writing.
In Part Three of the series, Anna, Lisa and Anita discuss the impacts of the intervention on students creative expression.