District Showcases Writing Program for Australian Educators

For the past two and a half years, teachers in the Tuckahoe Union Free School District have been using a program that has helped students become better writers.  On April 16, two educators, Principal David Shepherd and Vice Principal Jan McClure, both from the Ballarat Clarendon College in Victoria, Australia, visited all three district schools to find out more.

The program is being used across all disciplines in all of Tuckahoe’s schools.  In Kate Rogan’s middle school English class, students were learning how to construct effective sentences while science teacher Ms. Anne Richter, also in the middle school, was emphasizing the value of asking questions using the 5 Ws (who, what, when, where and why), as well as the “how.” The group also visited Kristin Vincenzi’s English class at the high school and Kristin Cardone’s fifth-grade class at Cottle Elementary School, as well as meeting with various writing liaisons at the end of their visit.

The Writing Revolution, developed by Dr. Judith Hochman, the former head of The Winward School in White Plains, is an instructional model that can turn weak writers into strong communicators by using specific strategies that Dr. Hochman developed.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Pupil Personnel Services Dr. Ellen McDonnell said strong gains have been made in the area of writing across all grades.  “A few years ago, we noticed a deficit and that writing wasn’t where we wanted it to be,” she explained.  The Tuckahoe School District is the first one in Westchester County to adopt the program and fully embed it in the instructional process from kindergarten through 12th grade.  Teachers at all three schools have been trained in the method and have learned to meet specific expectations as students move from grade to grade with the program.

Mr. Shepherd said he was delighted to be part of the fact-finding mission. “We’re trying to tap into the expertise that exists here among these talented educators,” he said. The group was also visiting schools in Manhattan, where the Writing Revolution is also being used.