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First Things First

5. Creating Writers: 6-Trait Writing Assessment and Instruction (Spandel, 2000) and The 6+1 Traits of Writing Center at NWREL. ( Spandel establishes the clear connection between revision and powerful writing. "When we use the language of the traits, students learn that they need to examine their work for clarity of ideas, the appropriate form of organization, the alignment of purpose and audience in their voice, the precision and accuracy of their word choice, and to make sure their sentences are not only formed correctly, but also have a rhythm and cadence that makes their work read smoothly and with style."

6. In the Middle: New Understandings about Writing,, Reading, and Learning. Atwell (1998) provides a comprehensive approach to focus student efforts on the development of understanding.

7. Beyond Technology: Questioning, Research and the Information Literate School (McKenzie, 2000) - Inspired by information literacy strategies being explored throughout Australia, Beyond Technology outlines an approach to research that makes student questioning and thinking central to schooling.

Once these models are identified, the team members must wrestle with the challenge of orchestration. They must figure out how to weave these program elements and possibilities into a comprehensive, coherent whole. Much like a poet, they must distill, combine and synthesize so that the pieces merge together and support each other with power, grace and simplicity.

"And where did they teach us that skill in graduate school?"

Good question. There is little in the professional preparation of teachers or administrators that might prepare them for the development of compelling and poetic models. Sadly, it seems that much of higher ed is committed to a kind of pseudo scientific approach to decision-making that often seems designed to filter out the very passions, feelings and more soulful aspects of schooling and learning that might actually ignite enthusiasm, support and allegiance.

Fortunately, the planning team can turn to the inspirational writing and thinking of educators like Deal, Lieberman, Fullan and Joyce as well as other writers about organizational development like Senge, Schwartz, P. (1991), Tucker, R. (1991) and Vail l (1989).

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Credits: The photographs were shot by Jamie McKenzie.
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