Write For Texas program helping students improve in literacy

Teacher Andrea DeCarlo and Instructional Coach Nikole Foote at Dumas High School share experience of implementing Write For Texas in the classrooms (Drew Powell ABC 7 News)

A program called Write For Texas is beginning to have a positive effect in classrooms across the state of Texas. The program was initiated in 2014 and is funded by a grant. Write For Texas promotes four guiding principles of effective writing instruction. First, it uses reading and writing to support learning in all content areas. Second, it teaches students the thinking skills, processes and knowledge needed to write effectively. Third, it teaches students skills for writing effective sentences in order to create coherent sentences. Finally, it provides extra assistance and instruction to students who experience difficulty learning to write.

Dumas High School teacher Andrea DeCarlo tells ABC7 News since implementing Write For Texas in her classroom she has noticed significant gains in her students writing.

“I’ve noticed that the students are more descriptive in their writing,” said DeCarlo. “The students are not afraid to actually write something, and that’s the big thing because before getting them to write something was like pulling teeth.”

Cassie Swan is an education specialist for Region 16. She helped implement Write For Texas at Dumas H.S. and at three other schools in the Panhandle. Swan, tells ABC7 News the program comes at a good time because so many students are not as engaged in writing due to electronics.

“You know our kids. They text and they send messages through Snapchat or whatever electronic device or devices they use,” said Cassie Swan, Education Specialist Region 16. “The students are not writing like they should. The students have writing in all of our content areas, but we really want to make sure all of our kids can write for life.”

“Writing is such a difficult process to do,” said Nikole Foote, Instructional Coach at Dumas H.S. “If you really understand something you need to be able to write it. We are seeing kids actually put their thought process in to writing now in math, science and social studies and not just English.”

Write For Texas is funded through the remainder of the 2016/17 school year. Teachers like DeCarolo are hoping the program stays in the classroom.

“We use sentence stems and it helps them push forward and engages them so they’re not stuck,” said DeCarlo. “The students use it as a starter and then they can go for it.”

Now in its third year of existence, the people who helped launch Write For Texas are hoping students at all grade levels will see writing is a valuable tool and will better equipped at writing following high school and college.

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