Writing is one of the most cognitively loaded things that we asked students to do. We have to actually produce the language and have ideas and create some sort of persuasion for whatever genre it is that we're using. And we don't really break it down in small pieces for students to digest.. but SRSD does that. So it's important in the modeling stage that we lay things out for them, that we show them writing from start to finish. And while the teachers are modeling, they also have to say out loud what it is that they're thinking. This is the "Think Aloud" phase and we have them say weird things like: "this is really hard. I don't want to be doing this. My hand hurts."
I just want to take a break. No, it's not going to get me out of this. I need to focus. I can get this done. Okay. "T;" Topic sentence.
We helped the students understand that a part of the writing process is really staying focused on the topic. We help the students develop positive self-statements to help them deal with when they might drift off. When they say, Oh, this is too much to do. Oh, I hate this. I can't write.
You said you're good at basketball. Wonderful. What do you say to yourself when you're playing basketball? You say: "nothing but nets. It's okay. I can do this and I'm going to give it my best shot." Now, when you say things like that to yourself, you're hyping yourself up. You're getting yourself and your psyche ready to play a really good game of basketball. Now that probably helps you play better because you're putting those good thoughts in your mind. When you write, do you say these types of things to yourself or do you say things like: "oh no, writing? Really." This is probably the biggest part when it's on you because you're modeling the process, the thinking that you're doing, the self-talk that you're doing to get yourself back on track.
I've already done the two things I had to do before reading. You are inside my brain. We thought about reading speed. What do I do next? I know it's something while reading, can you help me with anything? "Reading and mark R's and E's." Oh, I've got to read and mark R's and E's.
It's how you're selling it to the kids. And they're watching you thinking aloud. That is the strongest part of the modeling.
And we break self-talk down into three categories. Things to say to myself to get started, things to say to myself while I work and things to say to myself when I'm done. In those statements, we embed strategy "you" statements, we embed coping with frustration, we embed whatever the student needs. This is very individualized by the student.
They don't know that I'm doing it. So I'll say, oh gosh, I forgot what I was supposed to do. And then I'll ask them to hold on for a second and I'll check my strategy chart. And then I'll say, oh yeah, here I am. And then we talk about it afterward. And I asked them, well, did you see a place where I got stuck? And then I asked them what did I do? And then they realize that they make mistakes too. And that writing is complex and we need the strategy and that they can use the self-talk to help themselves get through the task.
One Teacher Was Glad He Did: He thought he would leave out the self instructions because he really didn't think they mattered that much. And the researcher said, no, no, no, please, just, let's try it so I can see the whole process. And at this conference of teachers, he said, thank God for the researcher who made me do the self-instructions. He said, I had no idea how well my students would take to it. He said, I never understood how much negative talk was going on in their heads about writing until we started talking about it.
And so one of the things is that it forces you to approach something first in an organized way, but it also may bring new ways of thinking about how you're doing something currently. I think the modeling is a perfect example of that. But you know, logically it makes a lot of sense. You described something, you show how to do it and you do it,
And then more importantly, that they see how you get stuck and you work through it. Or you get off track and you're thinking about lunch, but then you redirect yourself. These self-regulation strategies are often missing in kids today and we need to help put them back in there so that they can be productive members of society and stay focused at work and jobs someday.