Katie Johnson Helps Fayerweather Street School Begin Comprehensive Review of Writing Curriculum

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Katie Johnson consulted with teachers at Fayerweather Street School in Cambridge (MA) last week to revise the school's writing curriculum. Working in various classrooms, Katie also led the children in grades 1-4 through several lessons in writing techniques.

For two very full days in mid-October, Katie Johnson, writer and teacher of writing, joined the teachers and children at Fayerweather Street School in Cambridge, MA, an independent school for children pre-K through Grade 8,to help them with writing techniques. This independent school for children gained knowledge from Katie, a writer and consultant to schools about teaching writing, and author of three books about writing.

For part of the first day and most of the second afternoon of Katie's visit to Fayerweather, the pre-K - 8 teachers of literacy, as well as the administrators and support staff, worked together on the complex task of revising the document that both reflects and drive writing instruction in the school. It is a complex task not only because writing must be fairly sequential and age-appropriate in how it is presented to children, but also because the teaching of writing includes writing process, the forms and genres of writing, the traits of writing, one of which is conventions, which includes spelling, grammar, usage, and penmanship.

Some of the conversations around the table: "Who is responsible for semi-colons, anyway?" and "Are we talking about sequence in exposition or narrative?" "Yes." By the end of these meetings, the staff were satisfied that they had gotten an excellent start on the project.

In the grade 1-2 classes, Katie demonstrated Doing Words (in Grade 1-2); the students in the 3-4 classes participated in movement lessons on how to punctuate a complex sentence; they also learned how to revise a setting in narrative using drawing. She also visited with the teachers in the Pre-K classroom and observed several children who may have neurodevelopment issues. (Katie Johnson's latest book, Red Flags for Primary Teachers, helps teachers identify children with neurodevelopmental and vision issues that get in the way of their learning.)

Katie Johnson's books about writing are Doing Words,Using the Creative Power of Children's Personal Images to Teach Reading and Writing (1987. 1997); More Than Words: Child-Centered Lessons for Connecting Life and Literacy (1995); and Reading Into Writing: Using Children's Literature to Teach Writing to Children (2000).

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