Teacher Phyllis Peete
attributes the increase to what she
calls the four-square method.It gives students a diagram depicting the structure of an essay that they fill in with their main ideas and details."I was trying to find something to help kids organize their writing," she
said."Last year, we started digging in.I've seen their writing and confidence improve."Each day from October to the test, students spend an hour working on essays.So far, they've written 13 expository and persuasive essays, Peete
said.After the break, they will start learning about narratives.On a recent day, they were working on persuasive essays and were given a topic.By the end of the hour, some of the more advanced writers already had their outlines and much of their essays written, as they'll have to on the test this spring.
Students are also learning how to critique each other's work and learn from each other, Peete
said.Once students get to middle school, they start working on more advanced techniques and real-world applications.Sixth-graders get a book with a section on business writing with examples of how the tone and style of e-mails are different from letters, which in turn are different from project proposals.The teaching style also changes.