School using ‘Step Up To Writing’ program

Writing isn’t what it used to be.

Modern technology has limited students’ exposure to writing; with text messaging and emails, incomplete sentences and abbreviations have become a normal part of communication. And with the rising popularity of emojis, words are no longer a necessity when communicating.

By COLE BENZ
Record Editor

Writing isn’t what it used to be.

Modern technology has limited students’ exposure to writing; with text messaging and emails, incomplete sentences and abbreviations have become a normal part of communication. And with the rising popularity of emojis, words are no longer a necessity when communicating.

Hettinger High School Principal Ryan Moser said that in talking with various college institutions and employers, they indicated that the writing proficiency of students has been in decline recently. So the school felt like they had to do something. Recently, area schools have banded together to address the problem.

In March, Hettinger Public School implemented Step Up To Writing, a program aimed at improving the writing skills of students in all areas of study.

Moser said some teachers went to an in-service in Dickinson and learned about the program. They liked what they heard, and wanted to start utilizing it in Hettinger. Scranton had been using the program for the past year, so Hettinger school officials met with Scranton Superintendent John Pretzer and Scranton teacher Karyn Chiapella. Chiapella is a certified instructor of the program.

Moser said the school is bringing the program along in steps. Right now it isn’t a part of the graded curriculum, and teachers are taking it upon themselves to find opportunities to utilize it, rather than putting it into some kind of regular schedule.

“[Step Up To Writing is] not everyday,” Moser said. “When the opportunity arises, teachers will implement, or use that as a strategy.”

For example, he said, instead of traditional note-taking, a class will read a magazine article, and then the students organize their thoughts before coming together as a class to talk about what they just read.

He also said that while Step Up To Writing’s goal is improve the students’ writing, it’s really about taking ideas and organizing them the right way to convey the message.

“Yes it’s writing,” Moser said. “But a lot of it is organizing ideas. I mean that’s the biggest thing about it.”

Moser said it would take roughly one year for the students and faculty to get comfortable with the new system, and right now they are using both junior ACT and internal testing results to measure where their students are, academically, with their writing.

There wouldn’t be a measured grading system with this new program, but Moser said that eventually graded works of writing will be the final product of Step Up To Writing.

“The paper is what’s going to be really graded,” Moser said. “But the Step Up To Writing is the lead up to the paper.”

The program will be implemented in every class, no matter the subject. Students will just have to formulate ideas and write clear and concise on the specific topic.

Hettinger is not alone in this new course of education. Along with Scranton—who has been doing this for a year—Mott-Regent is also starting Step Up To Writing. Moser said from time to time the three schools will meet in Scranton to collaborate.

“The hope and the goal is that these three schools can really develop a relationship and collaborate,” Moser said.

Though it may take a year for the students and the faculty to get comfortable with the new system, already members of the school have seen a noticeable change. Moser said he and Mrs. Lanae Kristy were conversing, and said they can already see a difference from before and after the school implemented the program.







One thought on “School using ‘Step Up To Writing’ program

  1. Karyn Chiapella

    - Edit

    This is Dr. Karyn Chiapella- trainer for Step Up and Critical Literacy coach. We are doing more than just writing. we are collaborating, building relationships, and teams of teachers in our region who want to work together FOR kids. This is not a competition. We are all in this together- and our kids know it. THAT is the magic behind this that is moving this mountain. Love you Hettinger!!!

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