Writer's Stylus writing program
In the fall of 2011, St. Paul’s introduced a new writing program to students in the lower, middle, and upper school. This program, Writer’s Stylus, is designed by Dr. Kevin Washburn, author of the book The Architecture of Learning. He also designed the instructional model Foundations and Frameworks, which St. Paul’s has used to teach reading, language arts, and comprehension in grades K-6. Writer’s Stylus is based on the same instructional model as Foundation and Frameworks, and our students and teachers are already familiar with its format.
St. Paul’s teachers Kelli Etheredge and Heather Robinson were formally trained in Writer’s Stylus in 2011. This summer, they assisted Dr. Washburn in training 48 members of the St. Paul’s faculty in a weeklong session on our campus, and the school is actively implementing the program in every grade level.
Kelli Etheredge incorporates Writer's Stylus in into her sophomore English classes. Kelli is also the Teaching and Learning Resources Director for Grades PreK - 12. Heather Robinson implemented Writer's Stylus in grades 1 – 5 last year, and the results were impressive, as evidenced by the students’ writing portfolios. They hosted “book” signings in every class which gave students and parents the opportunity to share the work. Heather now works with faculty in grades 5 – 7 to incorporate Writer’s Stylus into every subject area; i.e. "Narrative" in English and "Step By Step How To" in Math.
Lower School teacher Liza Eldred now coordinates with the faculty in grades PreK – 4, and fourth grade teacher Deanna D’Alonzo coordinates with faculty in grades 3 & 4. Hence, all our students will have the opportunity to write in various genres within each subject area.
St. Paul’s is the first school in the nation to implement Writer’s Stylus this comprehensively, and Dr. Washburn has come to rely on our implementation model. He has made several trips to our campus see the program in action and has plans to visit several more times this year.
Research indicates that the process of writing engages more areas of the brain and involves them more intensely than any activity thus far investigated. The objective of Writer’s Stylus is to use writing not only as a vehicle for students to express their perspectives, but also as a means of learning in and of itself.
Students will explore genres of writing, learn revision skills related to those genres, and then draft compositions. Students will then engage in one on one ‘coaching’ sessions in which the teacher and student will use rubrics to assess the writing and determine which revision skills will be used to improve it.
Students will also “Write on Demand” in their classrooms. At the end of a lesson, students will take time to process what they have learned by writing about it. They will answer several prompts that require them to recall the instruction, relate it to known patterns and reflect upon its importance.
Teachers at St. Paul’s have always aptly taught the writing process. Writer’s Stylus, however, offers a unified, comprehensive, and cohesive approach that spirals upward on itself from Kindergarten to Upper School. Its design, like Foundations and Frameworks, is centered around groundbreaking research on how children’s brains acquire, process, and store information, and we are thrilled to add it to our curriculum.
We believe that Writer’s Stylus will equip our students with tools to improve their writing and teach them to use writing to deepen their learning. It will propel them to new heights, allow them to set and achieve higher goals, and continue them along the path of academic excellence that is St. Paul’s mission.