Teachers usually know what to expect from those few weeks just prior to the arrival of students. There are a few housekeeping meetings with HR and payroll. Then, there might be a session to review safety protocols and go over the curriculum. If you are lucky, someone brings in some good, strong coffee and doughnuts. Everyone is anxious to get into their rooms and work. You always hope for engaging professional development sessions, but you don’t always get them. Today was that session: Collins Writing Program by none other than John Collins himself. Dr. Collins is a product of Boston University and the University of Massachutes, so his accent along was enough to keep me engage, but it was his hands-on approach that made the hours fly by. Our curriculum coordinator started off the session by relaying how she had first come across this writing program. She told us how this writing program had just “made sense” to her and that she hoped to bring this writing program to our school. Of course, she’s required to get us excited about the speaker because that is the job of the person that is making the introductions, correct? As soon as he started speaking, I knew that this was probably going to be the highlight our teacher training week.
If you haven’t heard of this writing program, I think it will change your life. It is writing program that is designed to be implemented across the curriculum. It is a way of learning to write, and more importantly, it is a way of writing to learn. The program consists of five types of writing. Each type has a purpose: brainstorming, responding, individual editing, peer review, and publishing. There are a lot of built in engagement strategies, but it isn’t just about engagement. It gets kids thinking and processing through writing. Dr. Collins also touched on strategies for summarizing that support the Type 3 and 4 writing processes, as well as using Type 1 writing to building vocabulary and background knowledge. All of the types of writing integrate with each other, can be used independently or interwoven, and truly can be used in every classroom to fortify student learning.
If you still aren’t even a little bit curious to go and check it our for yourself, the other pillar of the Collins Writing Program is helping teachers increase student achievement while decreasing the amount of time they spend grading and scoring papers. I think we can expect to see huge gains from students in their level of independence and their confidence in their writing if our teachers implement this curriculum with validity in their classrooms.
If you have more questions about Collins Writing, be sure to check out the FAQ page. Also, check back throughout the year for updates on how I am implementing the Collins Writing Program in my resource classroom, as well as how I am supporting other teachers who might be using the program in my co-taught classes. Also, don’t forget to ‘like’ me on Facebook , follow me on Pinterest and drop me a line if you have a great lesson, activity or story from middle school that you would like to share!