Knowing that ungraded writing increases writing fluency, improves student thinking and helps teachers plan better, a few basic prompts are provided below. Please note that although the writing is ungraded, it doesn’t mean that one can’t reward students for their effort. Also, students should be encouraged to share any and all thoughts, no matter how “out there” they may seem. The best teaching results from students sharing ideas, while the teacher builds upon their thoughts, needs or concerns. While tight lesson planning is emphasized in teacher training, the best teachable moments are those that arise when one attempts to better understand each student, and informal writing offers that possibility.
Before a lesson:
What do you know about (topic)?
What do you expect to learn?
Is this (topic) something that might seem easy for you?
Why would do we need to know this?
Is there something about this that you wonder about?
What can I do to help you learn this?
Does this (topic) create an image in your mind?
During the lesson:
What is the key here to understanding this?
What do you need to know more about, right now?
Does it seem like your classmates are getting ‘it’? Please explain.
What question do you have about this?
What makes this easy to learn? Or what makes it hard to learn?
Summarize what you know.
Any suggestions for me?
After the lesson:
If you had to teach this, where would begin?
Was this easy or hard to learn?
What questions do you have?
Did you make any mistakes as we did this? If so, what will you do to avoid them?
What would help to remember this?
Where, why or how can this (topic) be used?
Is this what you thought you’d learn?
Summarize the lesson.
Could I have done this better?
When I first started in the profession, a colleague complained that there was so much to teach, and I fell into the following the curriculum on the mandated days and the times it should be taught only to grow frustrated. I realized the quality of what students learned and could replicate going forward, required a change to my planning. Taking the time to get authentic feedback was worth the effort since I could occasionally target instruction to individual students while still engaging the whole group. The result was a better time management and results.
Kafalas' fiction captures the wonder, sadness, irony and joy of life. His characters are unlikely heroes who find courage and inspiration in the lives of others. His writing belief is that less is more—his characters can tell their stories better than he can.