My Running Diary of an Anita Archer Presentation—Part 2 (Writing)

Beginning at minute 5:52, Dr. Anita Archer frames her presentation on Providing Explicit Instruction on Writing Arguments by outlining her “principles.” They include 1) breaking down complex skills into obtainable skills; 2) providing explicit instruction that involves modeling and guided practice; 3) providing immediate, quality feedback; providing judicious practice; and carefully considering motivation. With respect to breaking down complex skills, Dr. Archer suggests first having students write the body of an argumentative essay before writing the introduction (minute 12:57). With the introduction written, students would go back to the body and then write a conclusion. Dr. Archer does qualify that this “breaking” down technique is more likely to be used with Tier 3 student then Tier 2 students; and more often with Tier 2 students then Tier 1. In other words, you may not have to or want to do this with all students.

At minute 18:45, Dr. Archer outlines the research supporting the use of feedback to promote good writing. She continues with an example in which students take only a small part of a rubric to engage in peer editing. In turn, all student are able to gain access to quality feedback instead of always waiting to hear something from a teacher. The key is “highly focused” peer feedback. The slide, linked here, outlines some of that research.

Dr. Archer addresses the issue of motivation at minute 30:02. It is Dr. Archer’s assertion that compared to reading, solving math equations, and speaking in class, writing is the most difficult to get kids motivated for. She continues that to get students motivated they need to a have a perceived probability of success, an interest in the topic, and “narrow” choice.

Minutes 35:00 through 44:50 focus on the use of rubrics. Dr. Archer draws from checklists and Trait Scoring during this time. Oddly, she suggests that student’s do “close readings” of rubrics, which hardly consistent with what close reading is.

Dr. Archer continues with several strategies to use with decontextualized prompts.

About Aaron Grossman

I am a 5th grade teacher at Roy Gomm Elementary in Reno, Nevada. I started working with elementary students as part of the Montana Reads program and AmeriCorps. In 2001, after graduating from the University of Montana and moving to Reno, Nevada, I student taught at Rita Cannan Elementary before receiving a 6th grade position at Veterans Elementary. I moved out of the classroom to be a Literacy Coordinator, then an Instructional Coach, and finally a School Improvement Program Coordinator. In 2011, I began working on the Nevada Academic Content Standards in the district’s Curriculum & Instruction Department. I returned to the classroom for the 2015-2016 school year to teach 4th grade at Huffaker Elementary. Before returning to the classroom, I helped develop the Core Task Project that has been featured by National Public Radio, the Gates Foundation, American Radio Works, Eduwonk, the Fordham Institute, Vox, and the Center for American Progress. In 2014, I received the Leader to Learn From Award for my teacher-centered initiative and work to bring college, career, and civics ready outcomes into Northern Nevada classrooms (here). In 2015, I was appointed by Governor Sandoval serve on the Statewide RPDP Council. The same year, Nevada’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Canavero placed me on the state’s State Improvement Team. This year I will be part of the National Council on Teacher Quality’s Teacher Advisory Group. I am Google Certified Educator and a Nevada Teacher Ambassador. I believe strongly that teaching content is teaching reading and I make sure my students have ample opportunities to work with social studies, history, science and art outcomes. I do what I can to blend the learning for my students and this blog is part of that effort. You can contact me at
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