Tuesday, March 21, 2017

CRWP Success Story: Tammy Linn

Professional Biography of Tammy A. Linn, M.Ed.
Tammy Linn teaches middle school English/Writing at Discovery Middle School, Fargo, North Dakota.  Previously, she taught high school career development, marketing, and character education in another state.  She earned a master’s degree in elementary education and an undergraduate degree in mass communications. In addition, she was a national trainer for the Josephson Institute of Ethics CHARACTER COUNTS! where she trained over 11,000 teachers and wrote many published articles on character education and development.

Tammy brings a different and unique perspective to writing because she spent over 25 years in business and marketing prior to education.  Because of this background she understands that writing is critical to be successful in school and work life.  During her time in business, she wrote hundreds of published articles, brochures, annual reports, speeches, radio, and television commercials.  She also co-authored two books on marketing and customer service.

Critical Thinking and Creativity with the CRWP

     Students at Discovery Middle School in Fargo, North Dakota have enjoyed several new and innovative writing strategies because of the College Ready Writing Project (CRWP).  Not only have they enjoyed the new strategies, but the students have also developed more critical thinking skills and more creativity in their word choices.
     One new strategy that I implemented was the use of the “Writing Sprint” in lieu of their regular bell work, which was to answer a journal question.  The objective of the “Sprint” is to develop a student’s critical thinking skills by analyzing a statement.   Students are asked to write their opinion or belief/disbelief about a comment or statement.  I start by saying, “on your mark, get set, write” and
ring a bell.  They write for two minutes or until they hear the bell or hear “stop.”  Students will be asked if they agree or disagree with a statement on the board and why.  It is amazing how focused and silent the students are during the “sprint." Sample statements that they comment on are as follows:
-                      All people should wear bicycle helmets.
-                      All people need to vote.
-                      It doesn’t matter who wins the presidential election, the new president needs to be respected.
-                      Students should eat at least five servings of fruits/vegetables a day.
     Another writing strategy is the use of the “Dead Words” board.  The objective is to build their word usage, while “retiring” some words that are trite, misused or overused.  I’ve decorated a board that looks similar to a cemetery (see photo).  Every Tuesday, we celebrate the life of a “dead word” and have a ceremony for that word.  I turn on scary or silly music while I introduce for the last time, the passing of the word.  I give it praise for its years of service and ask the students to write one final sentence using that dead word.  Then, I turn on the music and they walk around the room until the music stops.  When the music stops, they go to a desk (not their own) and rewrite the sentence at the desk using another word instead of the dead word.  We do this a couple more times.  Then, students go back to their own desks and circle the best “new” sentence.  They share their first sentence and the best rewritten sentence with their shoulder buddy.  Finally, five students are given the chance to share these sentences with the entire.  At the end of the last class of the day, I write the “dead word” on a “tombstone” on my RIP board. 
Here are some examples of our dead words and their replacement words:
-   a lot/lots – numerous, scores, much, a great deal, many
-   cool – fine, marvelous, fantastic, excellent
-   got/get – received, obtained, attained
-   nice – pleasant, charming, fascinating, delightful, pleasing

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to grow as a teacher and for my students to become better writers!