Tips & Tricks from the MI Write Teacher of the Year
Our 2022 Teacher of the Year, Sarah Salazar, had so many great ideas and uses for MI Write that we couldn't fit them all into one blog post. So here are the rest of her excellent tips and advice for making MI Write work for you!
Attend the Power Up meetings!
When I kept getting emails from MI Write about the Power Ups, I thought, "They're only like 30 minutes and I can do it after school, on the drive home." So I would have it playing on my phone in the car or while I was cooking dinner. It was a great way to figure MI Write out because our principal did check the amount of time spent in MI Write just because she wanted us to utilize it. I was like, "Sure, I'll figure it out!" I started by attended those Power Ups and getting my questions answered and then just figured it out by doing. They were so helpful!
Create your own prompts
I would work together with our keyboarding instructor, especially in the second semester, getting really close to that standardized testing time. Every week, I would assign a new prompt for them to do in keyboarding and that gave them practice with their typing, but also allowed them to actually focus on reflective narrative specifically, which is our third grade standard.
MODEL, MODEL, MODEL!
Model an entire essay for your students. Model it all! That way, they see it and they understand how it works first, and then they can start using it in class as well. That's my biggest piece of advice. Do the whole thing with them, even if it takes up a whole day's worth of lessons, DO IT! It's worth it for them to see an example from start to finish and to know what the expectations are.
Utilize Peer Review
The Peer Review in MI Write has a customizable feedback feature. Having that pre-determined feedback questionnaire that they could just check and write their own comments changed everything! I could define the feedback questions the way I wanted and then I could do writing conferences while they independently reviewed their classmates' essays. We specifically did that with our 2nd day of writing conferences because they would sign up for conference times and while they were waiting, they would review essays. I liked them to get at least three reviews in before they came to me. That way, they could show what changes they've made and I can see the other students' reviews. That worked so well!
Use the highlight tool during writing conferences
When we would write our essays for each 9 weeks, we would use MI Write for typing it out, getting peer reviews, and meeting with me for the conference. I loved that in our conference times, I can use the highlight tool. I would go through and highlight in different colors what I wanted them to go back and fix. That's when we would get really nit-picky with grammar. There's not a whole lot of time during our regular literacy block to focus explicitly on grammar and language usage, but it's still something that they have to grow in. I would make that more of an individualized time. In that time, I would highlight like, "Red is for a spelling error and I'm not going to tell you how to spell it. You need to go find out. Blue is going to be a grammar error. Are you missing some sort of punctuation or is it the wrong verb tense?" I would read it out loud to them and highlight it blue and say, "There's something missing there. Can you figure out what it is?" And they would tell me, "Yeah, that's the wrong tense." If they needed to know what they present tense, for example, sounded like, I would tell them.
Use it in other content areas
Something I'd like to change for 2022-23 is using it across content areas because they do a lot of writing in math in our school, with their multi-step problems. I want to be able to teach MI Write to our math teacher, as well as to our science and social studies teacher. Now that both the kids and I know how to use MI Write in the classroom, I feel like if they used it in their other classes, I could pull that into my writing time and peer review some of the things they've written in math, science, or social studies. I'm just wanting to utilize it across all contents and lead that in my school. That's what I'm excited about for next year!
Lessons are great for substitutes!
The lessons were really useful, specifically for days whenever I would have subs! I could introduce a lesson, just assign it through MI Write, and then I could assign a prompt to go with it. If I wanted them to do some independent writing, it was really easy, low-prep work for me whenever I knew I was going to be out. It could even introduce something that we hadn't talked about and I could follow up on it later, knowing that it gave them an interactive, quick introduction.
If you'd like to learn more about how MI Write can help your students achieve their writing goals, contact us today to get started!