Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Writing...in French Immersion

Of late I have been visiting French Immersion classrooms, exploring ways in which teachers are describing quality as students write in French. In Michelle Follow's Grade 2/3 classroom at École Howden in the Louis Riel School Division, students are engaged, in the words of one of the writers, "In three easy steps...I do it, we do it, you do it (Routman, 2005) ...instead of ten hard steps. " This young writer has perfectly described what happens when we use modelling, shared writing, success criteria, and descriptive feedback to provide students with a clear picture of quality.

Beginning with literature as a springboard and sample of quality, Mme Follows read:

She provided further evidence of quality by modelling for students and asking them to pay attention to what she does and says as a writer that could help them when they begin to write independently.

On another day, teacher and students wrote together, applying and discussing what they know good writers do. Using the gradual release of responsibility, this second description of quality now involves the students in the construction of sentences, puts language they might use in their minds, and gives them an oral rehearsal, which is so important in the pre-writing stage.

Just as we do in English writing instruction, the teacher continued to provide descriptions of quality through descriptive feedback and success criteria. As students hear feedback connected to the criteria given to classmates, it reminds them of what they need in their own writing. They also learn the language of assessment through this process, which enables them to give feedback to each other.

The benefits to student writers are clear when we see the quality they can produce:

And hear what they have to say when asked about what is working for them in the way they are working on writing:

"We get ideas from each other."

"It makes you want to write more. I write at home."

"When you start writing more, you get better and better."

"Writing is more FUN now."

"Talking together makes it easier."

"It helps us talk more French."

"Writing in French and re-reading it is making me a better reader too."

Couldn't have said it better myself. 


Routman, Regie. 2005. Writing Essentials: Raising Expectations and Results While Simplifying Teaching. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.