May 18, 2024
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The Collins Writing Program Comes to Yeshivat Noam

Yeshivat Noam teachers have been successfully teaching students writing skills and techniques starting in Early Childhood and continuing on to elementary school and into Middle School. Most recently, the Yeshivat Noam 5th-8th Grade General Studies teachers are partnering with Collins Education Associates, CEA, in an effort to find and then incorporate ways to continue to improve writing instruction in our classrooms.

John Collins, an experienced educator himself, found that students were not writing enough because the task is time consuming to teach and time consuming for teachers to grade meaningfully. He thus founded the “The Collins Writing Program,” and its mission is to improve students’ writing and build their subject area knowledge.

In June, after school had let out for the summer, Yeshivat Noam teachers spent a full day with Dr. Collins to learn his theories and best practices. They learned different ways to incorporate more writing into the curriculum, across all disciplines. The focus was on integrating academic vocabulary, teaching strategies to breakdown non-fiction texts, and assessing student’s writing and comprehension progress.

YN began a new academic year in September with enthusiasm and some new writing “protocols.”

On Election Day, the General Studies faculty had the opportunity to further discuss and hone its Collins Writing and application skills with Kristine Gibson, a member of the CEA team. Kristine discussed research that shows that students grow as writers when they are explicitly taught one or two skills, focus their writing on them, and then are assessed on those specific skills. She also emphasized the importance of reading and reporting on non-fiction texts because she quoted Douglas Reeves, a noted educator, who writes that, “Non-fiction writing is the backbone of a successful literacy [instruction] and [helps improve] student achievement.” To help us accomplish this, the teachers learned about the Collins 10% summary, which is a unique way to summarize non-fiction articles. The “Common Core” stresses the importance of students increasing their knowledge of non-fiction texts as well as writing to express ideas, so Middle School teachers, specifically in Science and Social Studies, are incorporating more non-fiction reading and writing in their classes.

The Middle School has only been using the Collins Writing program for a few months, but the teachers already see tremendous improvement in their students’ writing. Students are writing more, being exposed to academic language, and are more actively engaged in class discussions. Yeshivat Noam will be continuing with its CEA partnership over the course of this year to continue enhancing its writing curriculum.

Ricki Kurtz is a Noam Middle School General Studies Teacher

By Ricki Kurtz

 

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