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The Windward School


Beacon The Windward School Newsletter for Educators and Parents Fall 2015

In This Issue Effective Writing Instruction by Judith Hochman and Betsy MacDermott-Duffy Page 1

This article was originally published in Perspectives on Language and Literacy, vol. 41, No. 2, 2015 (spring), copyright by The International Dyslexia Association, Inc. ( Used with permission.

Effective Writing Instruction Time for a Revolution

By Judith Hochman and Betsy MacDermott-Duffy

American education will never realize its potential as an engine of opportunity and economic growth until a writing revolution puts language and communication in their proper place in the classroom . . . . Of the three “Rs,” writing is clearly the most neglected. – National Commission on Writing in America’s Schools and Colleges, 2003

Head Lines High Quality Teachers Matter Most by Dr. John J. Russell, Head of School Page 8 Feature Article Evolving Perspectives on Child Discipline by David Anderson, Ph.D. Page 10 Faculty Essay The Windward Vocabulary Program: A Research-Based Approach by Betsy MacDermott-Duffy Page 12 WTTI Expands to Its First-ever Simulcast Page 15 Alumni Profile: Andrew Mollerus, Class of 2012: A Scholar and a Sailor By Bonni Brodnick Page 16

The Impetus for Change in Writing Instruction Why do so many English teachers, college professors, job recruiters, and supervisors in the workplace believe that the writing aptitude of young people across the United States is far below acceptable standards? The most common response is that at every stage of student transition (elementary to middle school, middle to high school, and college into the workplace), the foundational skills required to write well are missing. Many students are unable to write a well-crafted sentence, much less possess the tools to organize and draft a composition about an expository topic (Eberhardt, 2013). According to the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP; U.S. Department of Education, 2011), approximately 75% of students in the United States are not at the “proficient level” in writing. These results indicate that students have only partial mastery of the prerequisite knowledge and skills required for competency at a given grade level. This problem is precisely what the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, 2010), a set of national benchmarks to ensure college and career readiness, attempted to address with increased rigor in writing. Road to the Writing Revolution—A New Set of Standards Though the CCSS are not perfect or all encompassing, they are based on sound research and are internationally benchmarked using standards from top-performing countries for their development. The intent is that CCSS will have a positive effect on student preparation for college and careers. According to the expectations of the anchor and grade-level standards, students should demonstrate increasing levels of complexity each year in all aspects of language use, from vocabulary and sentence structure to the development and organization of compositions. Reading sources used for research, and as a springboard for writing, should also become increasingly more complex and demanding with each grade, according to the CCSS. Cont’d on page 2


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The Writing standards of the CCSS outline three major text types for writing: 1) opinion/argumentative, 2) informational/ explanatory, and 3) narrative. Importantly, the narrative text description does not include the creative writing exercises that have dominated elementary school assignments for years. Although the CCSS do not exclude such assignments, they leave the inclusion and assessment of these types of tasks to teacher discretion. However, it is clearly noted in Appendix A of the CCSS that, although all three major text types are important, the CCSS place a strong emphasis on students’ ability to critically reason and write sound arguments on substantive topics and issues.

After a half-century of advocacy associated with instruction using minimal guidance, it appears that there is no body of research supporting the technique. Insofar as there is any evidence from controlled studies, it almost uniformly supports direct, strong instructional guidance rather than constructivist-based minimal guidance during the instruction of novice to intermediate learners. —Kirschner, Sweller, & Clark, 2006 A Bump in the Road Although much about the standards for writing in the CCSS is positive, many educators have concerns about the reality of meeting the writing standards in their current form. Unfortunately, the foundational skills required to meet many of the writing standards are addressed in a fragmented manner. Just as fluent and accurate decoding are required to comprehend text, similarly, there are basic skills in writing required to compose effectively. The Writing standards would greatly benefit from a detailed section on the skills that underpin all good writing. Explicit information about these fundamental skills can be found in CCSS sections other than Writing. For example, a standard under the foundational skills in the Reading standards requires first grade students to demonstrate an understanding of the organization and basic structures of print by recognizing the distinguishing features of a sentence (e.g., first word, capitalization, and ending punctuation). In addition, consider the language standard for grade 5 (CCSS.L.5.3a), which indicates that students should expand, combine, and reduce sentences for meaning, reader/listener interest, and style. These flaws in organization present artificial divisions among the CCSS for Reading, Language, and Writing. Everything from spelling conventions, grammar, syntax, figurative language, and vocabulary to style, tone, editing, revising, paraphrasing, summarizing, making claims, and acknowledging counterclaims are examples from the CCSS that reinforce good writing as well as reading, speaking, and listening. These skills appear throughout the CCSS for English language arts (ELA), albeit in different areas. So, to fully analyze the Writing standards, educators must mine through all of the related ELA CCSS. Even

if they spend the time to do this, educators still might not emerge with an understanding of the strategies, amount of practice, and explicit instruction that it takes to teach writing to students. In addition to these organizational issues, a noticeable omission in the Writing standards is the need to teach and use handwriting beyond the primary grades. Although the Language standards call for legible manuscript writing in grades K–1, the focus shifts to keyboarding in subsequent grades and leaves cursive handwriting as an instructional option left up to individual states or school districts. “Handwriting in the 21st Century? An Educational Summit” brought educators and researchers together in Washington, D.C. in 2012. Experts at the summit raised important questions regarding handwriting, cognitive development, and overall academic achievement. Virginia Berninger, a leading researcher on handwriting and the brain and the genetic basis of writing, presented at the summit. She spoke about the research revealing how cursive, in particular, is linked with brain functions around self-regulation and mental organization—the very cognitive tasks necessary to write well. Additional research reveals that students write faster, compose more, and express themselves more comprehensively when essays are written by hand rather than typed on a keyboard. (Berninger, 2012; Graham, 2005; Harris, 2005; Graham; Harris; Fink, 2000). Although the CCSS clearly pinpoint the important relationship between oral and written language as underlying skills for effective communication, they do not reflect the body of research indicating that handwriting fluency is a critical constituent in setting up brain systems for reading acquisition (James, 2012) and is evidenced to improve oral language, writing quality and quantity, planning, thinking, and learning (Berninger, 2012; Graham & Santangelo, 2012; Peverly, 2012). The evidence was so compelling that a number of state administrators, who had dropped handwriting from their programs based on the CCSS, returned handwriting cursive instruction to their curriculum after attending the summit. Meeting the CCSS—What will it take? Given the combination of increased demands on writing in the CCSS and the limited clarity of the skills that underpin good writing within them, teachers’ knowledge and skills to teach writing is of even greater importance. Research suggests that being taught by a well-trained teacher matters most among all school-related factors (Rand Corporation, 2012). Unfortunately, most teacher prep programs ignore the fact that writing is a set of skills that can be successfully taught and improved through explicit instruction using research-based strategies. In the publication Effective Writing Instruction for All Students, Steve Graham (2008) reports that many teachers do not feel adequately prepared to teach writing. In fact, almost 50% of the teachers reported that they received minimal to no preparation to teach writing. Clearly, the knowledge of validated writing strategies should be included in teacher preparation programs, and teacher certification should require an assessment for proficiency in the teaching of writing. For the past eight years, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has conducted studies on the quality of teacher Cont’d on page 3

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preparation programs. The NCTQ modeled their studies after the Flexner report, a 1910 evaluation of medical training programs conducted by the Carnegie Corporation. The Flexner report issued a call to action for American medical schools to require higher admission and graduation standards and to adhere to research-based scientific protocols in their training. The result of that effort was a revolution in the medical field that transformed sub-standard doctor preparation programs into the premier system for medical training in the world. Teacher prep programs must have a similar revolution. The NCTQ report has focused national attention on teacher preparation. Arne Duncan (U.S. Department of Education, 2011), United States Secretary of Education, reported that 62% of all new teachers felt unprepared for the realities of their classroom. He also equated this statistic to the practice of medicine: “Imagine what our country would do if 62 percent of our doctors felt unprepared to practice medicine— you would have a revolution in our medical schools.” Clearly this level of unpreparedness serves as a call to action. Since the 1970s and 1980s, teachers have encouraged students to write without specific strategies and without explicit feedback. This approach causes deficits, not only in writing, but also in clarity of thought and the empathy required to communicate effectively with a reader. If young students are encouraged to focus primarily on their own experiences, they are not going to build the background knowledge, vocabulary, and understanding necessary to write effectively about expository and argumentative topics. To close the achievement gap and meet the needs of all learners, the philosophy that all children will discover how to read and write “naturally” must be dispelled. Beginning with the youngest students through those attending high schools and college, writing assignments need to be focused on a reader—the teacher, other students, or a designated audience—rather than oneself. National scores, school reports, and amount of remediation necessary for most students to achieve success in college and the workplace make it abundantly clear that a major paradigm shift from the writing instruction typical in schools today is required. Although grammar and spelling are important components of writing, effective writing must also include skills necessary for accuracy, precision, summarization, content, and structure. In almost every type of coursework or career, people have to inform, explain, and provide their reasoning in writing. Regardless of a student’s major in school or future occupation, the ability to think clearly and organize information in writing are the key elements to successful communication. And, it is for that reason the CCSS placed considerable emphasis on writing in the ELA standards and as a means of demonstrating learning in other subject areas. Knowledge of Validated Writing Strategies Can Change the Trajectory Given the expectations for writing outlined in the CCSS, the connection between research and practice becomes even more important for educators. As a nation, we are losing ground because of the ever-widening achievement gap among socioeconomic groups. The gap begins in infancy and lasts through a student’s academic lifetime and beyond. Informed

Judith C. Hochman, Ed.D. and Betsy MacDermott-Duffy, M.S. Ed.

teaching of writing, beginning with specific oral language activities that are embedded in a child’s earliest learning and school experiences, could change this trajectory. The rich language exchanges that so many low-income students are not exposed to in their early years can be addressed by enhancing the syntax, vocabulary, and background knowledge of reading and writing activities that students encounter as they proceed through the grades. High quality professional development in proven writing strategies needs to be a top priority of school administrators for their teachers. Researchers Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock (2001) have employed scientific methods to measure the average effects of specific instructional strategies used by teachers. Some of these strategies can be directly applied to writing instruction. For example, strategies such as analyzing complex problems by comparing, contrasting, and organizing information using outlines or graphic organizers greatly facilitate comprehension. Taught correctly, summarizing and note taking can result in large gains in student achievement in both reading and writing. In the meta-analysis Writing Next (Graham & Perin, 2007), a considerable number of studies focused on explicitly teaching skills, processes, and knowledge, and all of these studies involved sustained, direct and systematic instruction designed to facilitate student mastery. Summarization skills, specific strategy instruction, and sentence combining yielded positive and reliable results. Sentence combining is supported as a highly effective alternative approach to more traditional grammar instruction, which produced a slight negative effect on student writing. In the Carnegie Corporation’s press release for the 2010 report Writing to Read: Evidence for How Writing Can Improve Reading, authored by Steve Graham and Michael Hebert (2010), it is stated “though reading and writing are skills closely related, writing is an often-overlooked tool for improving reading skills Cont’d on page 4



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and content learning.” This report provides teachers with research-based information on how writing improves reading and presents proof positive of the essential need for a greater emphasis on writing instruction as an integral part of school instruction. The report (see pp. 11–21) identifies three closely related writing practices to improve students’ reading: 1. Have Students Write About the Texts They Read. Writing about a text enhances comprehension because it provides students with a tool to visibly and permanently record, connect, analyze, personalize, and manipulate key ideas in text. Students’ comprehension of science, social studies, and language arts is improved specifically when they • Respond to a text in writing; • Write summaries of a text; • Write notes about a text; • Answer questions about a text in writing, or create and answer written questions about a text. 2. Teach Students the Writing Skills and Processes That Go into Creating Text. Students’ reading skills and comprehension are improved by learning the skills and processes that go into creating text specifically when teachers • Teach the process of writing, text structures for writing, paragraph or sentence construction skills; • Teach spelling and sentence construction skills; and • Teach spelling skills. 3. Increase How Much Students Write. Students’ reading comprehension is improved by having them increase how often they produce their own text. The process of creating a text prompts students to be more thoughtful and engaged when reading text produced by others. The act of writing also teaches students about the importance of stating assumptions and premises clearly and observing the rules of logic. Students also benefit from using experience and knowledge to create a text as well as building relationships among words, sentences, and paragraphs. Writing to Read informs educators about the importance of the reading and writing connection. When students are taught how to take notes from a text, annotate text with questions and connections, summarize important information and then communicate that information to a reader, they process the content on a deeper level. Thus, reading comprehension is enhanced along with writing competence on both the sentence and essay levels. The Importance of the Sentence One of the drawbacks of the CCSS is that they set unrealistic expectations for students who have not mastered the fundamentals of writing. One of the most fundamental skills a good writer should have, an essential element of writing, is the ability to develop a good sentence. Before students can make meaning from complex text, they must be able to decipher complex sentences (Eberhardt, 2013). Students are being pushed to write paragraphs and multi-paragraph compositions before they can produce a well-crafted sentence. Cheryl Scott (2009), whose research interests include oral and written language in school-age children and adolescents and discourse analysis techniques, supports the concept that teaching

children to write more complex sentences may be an effective way to improve sentence-level comprehension in reading. If students are directly taught how to write linguistically complex sentence forms and are provided practice with these forms, it is reasonable to expect that when they encounter the same structures in written text they will be better equipped to comprehend that sentence type (Hochman, 2009). Moreover, analytical thinking can and should begin at the sentence level. Even if students master writing a simple sentence, comprehending and incorporating expanded sentences into their writing can be challenging. Students often assume that readers possess the same amount of background knowledge they themselves bring to a writing task. In a sentence expansion activity, the essential message to students is placed on the importance of providing more information to the reader. Expansion activities start with an unelaborated sentence kernel (e.g., subject + verb), which is expanded by answering questions. Examples follow: Example for Developing Writers Kernel sentence: They study. Who? students When? before tests Why? because they want good grades How? hard Expanded sentence: Before tests, students study hard because they want good grades. Example for Proficient Writers Kernel sentence: He ordered secret bombing raids. Who? Richard Nixon Where? Cambodia When? 1969 Why? to stop movement of North Vietnamese troops and supplies Expanded sentence: In 1969, President Nixon ordered secret bombing raids in Cambodia to stop the movement of North Vietnamese troops and supplies. The CCSS Writing standards reinforce the importance of conjunctions and transitions in developing more complex sentences and connecting ideas. (See Figure 1.) Analyzing the actions of an important figure in history, the impact of a current event, or the influence of a scientific discovery, can reinforce higher-level thinking and writing skills and can be introduced in the elementary grades. For example, conjunctions (e.g., because, but, and so) can be used as sentence starters or sentence completers to support critical thinking and analytical skills (Hochman, 2009). Examples for Developing Writers • George Washington is remembered because he was the first president of the United States. • George Washington is remembered, but he lost many battles. • George Washington is remembered, so we celebrate him as “the father of our country.” Examples for Proficient Writers • The GI bill was eventually passed because legislators agreed that something had to be done to help veterans assimilate

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Figure 1. Developing complex sentences

Figure 1. Developing complex sentences

Figure 2. Example of a sentence frame

Figure 2. Example of a sentence frame

into civilian life. Examples • The GIfor billDeveloping was eventually passed, but some members of Writers it would veterans’ incentive to • Congress New Yorkthought City, an urbandiminish community, is crowded and look busy.for work. • • T he GI bill was one eventually passed, servicemen gained borNiagara Falls, of New York’ssonatural wonders, access to higher education and other benefits. ders two countries. Graphic organizers that provide a sentence frame scaffold Examples for Proficient can help developing writersWriters use conjunctions in their writing. See • The2 and Etruscans, Rome’s early ruling people, were eventuFigures 3. ally overthrown revolt. Teaching studentsby to ause subordinating conjunctions in • The Romans created republic, a form of government left-branching clauses, whereaclause modifiers appear before the where citizens the right to in vote for their mature leaders, independent clause, ishave a form often seen syntactically which lasted almost 500can years. writing. Even young students be provided with instruction on writing sentences using subordinating clauses. This instructional strategy, most good techniques, be illusThese examples for like developing and proficientcan writers scaffolded in difficulty throughout the grades. Note that trate that research-based sentence strategies can be the applied left-branching clause italicizedand in these examples.become more across the grades. As iscontent complexity cognitively demanding through Writers the grades, the expectation for Examples for Developing the quality of sentence production increases. • After my class planted the seeds, green plants started to Sentence strategies can be directly taught to students to grow. improve the overall quality of writing, assess comprehen • Although roots help support a plant, they their are also important sion, and enhance their analytical thinking. Students who have for taking in water and storing food. been these research-based techniques likely started to dis •taught Since the plant was placed in the window, are the stems play greater clarity in both their written and oral language to lean toward the sun. (Hochman, 2009). Their communication often exhibits Examples for Proficient Writers enhanced complexity and coherence, and their reading com • Even though cells appear to be very small compartments, prehension will show improvement (Tierney & Shanahan, they hold all of the biological constituents necessary to keep 1991; Fitzgerald & Shanahan, 2000; Moats, 2006; Graham & themselves alive. Hebert, 2010). The ability to write effective sentences forms the • While the outer membrane of mitochondrion is smooth, the foundation for writing expository and argumentative essays. inner one is folded into tubule structures called cristae. • If cells are not actively dividing, they are said to be in The Importance interphase. of an Organizational Frame— Outline to Essay in the use of appositive phrases (i.e., those in Instruction As students apply the noteimportant taking, outlining, italics in the examples thatparaphrasing, follow) is another language and summarizing strategies that they should learnas adds in any tool that lifts the linguistic level of the sentence as well comprehensive integrated curriculum, information by and further describingwriting people, places, things,effective or organizational canform translate into reflects better written study skills. A concepts. Thisskills sentence is one that language sound writing curriculum far more than oral language. should also provide practice in varied writing genres: narrative, expository, and persuasive/


Figure 3. Examples of sentence frames

Figure 3. Examples of sentence frames

Examples for Developing Writers writing. As outlined in the CCSS, the argumentative • New York City, an urban community, is crowded andemphasis busy. be forming solid in the writingborders skills most should • Niagara Falls, onea of Newfoundation York’s natural wonders, tworequired countries.for school assignments, which are expository often and argumentative. Writing and thinking are closely linked, Examples for Proficient Writers and so instruction should, above all, help students enhance • The Etruscans, Rome’s early ruling people, were eventually clarity and precision to structure their ideas. Writing should not overthrown by a revolt. be taught in isolation content, some teachers • The Romans created a from republic, a form though of government object because they think that writing will slow where citizens have the right to vote for their leaders,down whichtheir ability to cover the material in their subjects. To the contrary, lasted almost 500 years. writing will enhance their students’ ability to understand subThese examples for developing and proficient writers ject matter (Graham & Hebert, 2010). Students, particularly illustrate that research-based sentence strategies can be applied thosethe who struggle in school, should bebecome taughtmore how to write across grades. As content and complexity about the content that they are learning so they can for comprecognitively demanding through the grades, the expectation hend andofretain important information. the quality sentence production increases. Writing is the final, common language (Scott, Sentencepathway strategiesofcancognition be directlyand taught to students to 1999; 2005). the Scott describes command oftheir linguistic knowledge, improve overall qualitythe of writing, assess world knowledge, and social cognitionthinking. (i.e., understanding comprehension, and enhance their analytical Students another’s point of view) that a proficient writer must bring to who have been taught these research-based techniques are likely tothe display task.greater clarity in both their written and oral language (Hochman, 2009). Their communication often exhibits Since presenting expository information to a reader should enhanced and coherence, and their reading be donecomplexity in an ordered, sequential, linear form, outlining a comprehension will show improvement & Shanahan, paper as an initial exercise is key. A (Tierney linear outline helps ensure 1991; Fitzgerald Shanahan, 2000; Moats, 2006; Grahamand & proa clear overall & structure, supports analytical thinking, Hebert, 2010). The ability to write effective sentences thewritvides support to the writer in linking related ideas.forms Essays foundation for writing expository and argumentative essays. ten from outlines assist the writer in avoiding tangential information and underdeveloped paragraphs and ensure that each The Importance of an Organizational Frame— paragraph contains sufficient factual support. Although concept Outline to Essay maps have a apply placetheinparaphrasing, vocabulary note relationships or concept As students taking, outlining, building, their designs dothat notthey convert well intointhe and summarizing strategies should learn anytype of written expression that is needed to effectively organize comprehensive and integrated writing curriculum, effectiveor convey information about a topic andinto provide evidence support organizational skills can translate betterkey study skills. Atosound facts or present should counterpoints in argumentative writing curriculum also provide practice in variedwriting. writing See Figurenarrative, 4. genres: expository, and persuasive/argumentative writing. As outlined the CCSS, the the emphasis be effective A good essay in depends upon abilityshould to write forming a solid foundation in the writing skills most often sentences, but a novice writer also needs direct instruction to organize information and develop an expository composition or Cont’d on page 6 argument. Thought and organization are the characteristics Continued on page 36


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Cont’d from page 5 required for school assignments, which are expository and argumentative. Writing and thinking are closely linked, and so instruction should, above all, help students enhance clarity and precision to structure their ideas. Writing should not be taught in isolation from content, though some teachers object because they think that writing will slow down their ability to cover the material in their subjects. To the contrary, writing will enhance their students’ ability to understand subject matter (Graham & Hebert, 2010). Students, particularly those who struggle in school, should be taught how to write about the content that they are learning so they can comprehend and retain important information. Writing is the final, common pathway of cognition and language (Scott, 1999; 2005). Scott describes the command of linguistic knowledge, world knowledge, and social cognition (i.e., understanding another’s point of view) that a proficient writer must bring to the task. Since presenting expository information to a reader should be done in an ordered, sequential, linear form, outlining a paper as an initial exercise is key. A linear outline helps ensure a clear overall structure, supports analytical thinking, and provides support to the writer in linking related ideas. Essays written from outlines assist the writer in avoiding tangential information and underdeveloped paragraphs and ensure that each paragraph contains sufficient factual support. Although concept maps have a place in vocabulary relationships or concept building, their designs do not convert well into the type of written expression that is needed to effectively organize or convey information about a topic and provide key evidence to support facts or present counterpoints in argumentative writing. See Figure 4. A good essay depends upon the ability to write effective sentences, but a novice writer also needs direct instruction to organize information and develop an expository composition or argument. Thought and organization are the characteristics that separate strong expository writing from weak. Good writing is as much about the organization of a writer’s thinking as it is about writing itself (Hochman, 2009).

Writing is how students connect the dots in their knowledge. Although many models of effective ways to teach writing exist, both the teaching and practice of writing are increasingly shortchanged throughout the school and college years . . . –National Commission on Writing in America’s Schools and Colleges, 2003 A Successful Revolution Brings About Reform— Call to Action Although the NAEP results report that approximately three quarters of the nation’s students are not at the “proficient level” in writing, research identifying evidence-based strategies in writing instruction gives much cause for hope that this dire statistic can be drastically reduced. The amount of writing research available compared to that on reading is miniscule, but effective practices for the teaching of writing have now been identified through several comprehensive meta-analyses of writing interventions noted in this article. Meeting the standards

Effective Writing Instruction

Figure 4. Concept Map

Figure 4. Concept map.

continued from page 35

but effe been ide of writin dards se program Explicit the earli duce yo and the the writi instructi sary to p Altho research tent, and will hel reading of evide plexity well-stru argumen that are and, mo who hav and cla concept and suc by the C impetus provide how to succeed in every writing t

set forth by the CCSS must begin with teacher preparation that separate strong expository writing from weak. Good writing programs grounded in these research-based writing strategies. is as much about the organization of a writer’s thinking as it is Explicit instruction in expository writing should commence in about writing itself (Hochman, 2009). the earliest grades and continue through high school to produce young people who are adequately prepared for college and the workforce. Teachers must be cognizant of the demands the Referen Writing is how students connect the dots in their Berninger, writing process places on students and the amount of direct skills K– knowledge. many models of instruction effective ways instruction and Although repetition in specific strategy develop to teach both the teaching and practice necessary to writing produce exist, good writers. Handwr America recent meta-analyses are promising,throughout further ofAlthough writing are increasingly shortchanged research is needed on the effects of integrating reading, content, Carnegie C the school and college years . . . powerfu and writing instruction. Using effective writing strategies will carnegie —National Commission Writing in and America’s Schools help advance thinking and on writing skills improve reading that-wri and Colleges, 2003 comprehension in all content areas. A combination of evidence- Eberhardt, Languag based sentence strategies to build linguistic complexity in writing Fitzgerald, and the use of linear outlines to develop well-structured ment. Ed A Successful Revolution Brings About Reform— paragraphs, summaries, and expository and argumentative essays Call to Action Graham, S will enable students to master thereport skillsthat thatapproximately are essential for close doc.renl Although the NAEP results three reading, effective communication, and, to Graham, S quarters of the nation’s students are notmost at theimportantly, “proficient level” gling w advance analytical thinking. Students who have learned thesein in writing, research identifying evidence-based strategies Accelera skills will have the ability use writing classroom discourse writing instruction givestomuch cause and for hope that this dire Graham, S to statistic deeply internalize content area concepts, on to make can be drastically reduced. The go amount of writing to write connections to new understandings, and convey research available compared to that onsuccessfully reading is miniscule, Educatio information to others as mandated by the CCSS in literacy. 36 Perspectives on Language and Literacy Springin2015 Indeed, these new standards are an impetus for change writing instruction. However, the CCSS provide a set of goals without a detailed map showing teachers how to reform their practices to achieve these goals. To truly succeed in revolutionizing writing instruction, every teacher in every grade and content area must endeavor to become writing teachers.

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References Berninger, V. (2012, January). Evidence-based, developmentally appropriate writing skills K–5: Teaching the orthographic loop of working memory to write letters so developing writers can spell words and express ideas. Paper presented at Handwriting in the 21st Century? An Educational Summit, co-sponsored by American Association of School Administrators and Zaner Bloser, Washington, DC. Carnegie Corporation of New York. (2010). New report finds that writing can be powerful driver for improving reading skills [Press release]. Retrieved from http:// news/press-releases/story/news-action/single/view/new-report-findsthat- writing-can-bepowerful-driver-for-improving-reading-skills Eberhardt, N. (2013). Syntax: Somewhere between words and text. Perspectives on Language and Literacy, 39(3), 43–48. Fitzgerald, J., & Shanahan, T. (2000). Reading and writing relations and their development. Educational Psychologist, 35, 39–50. Graham, S. (2008). Effective writing instruction for all students. Retrieved from http:// doc. Graham, S., & Harris, K. (2005). Improving the writing performance of young struggling writers: Theoretical and programmatic research from the Center on Accelerating Student Learning. Journal of Special Education 39(10), 19–33. Graham, S., Harris, K., & Fink, B. (2000). Is handwriting causally related to learning to write? Treatment of handwriting problems in beginning writers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92, 620–633. Graham, S., & Hebert, M. A. (2010). Writing to read: Evidence for how writing can improve reading. A Carnegie Corporation Time to Act Report. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education. Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007). Writing next: Effective strategies to improve writing of adolescents in middle and high schools – A report to Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education. Graham, S., & Santangelo, T. (2012, January). A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of teaching handwriting. Paper presented at Handwriting in the 21st Century? An Educational Summit, co-sponsored by American Association of School Administrators and Zaner Bloser, Washington, DC. Hochman, J. (2009). Teaching basic writing skills: Strategies for effective expository writing instruction. Longmont, CO: Sopris West. James, K. H. (2012, January). How printing practice affects letter perception: An educational cognitive neuroscience perspective. Paper presented at Handwriting in the 21st Century? An Educational Summit, co-sponsored by American Association of School Administrators and Zaner Bloser, Washington, DC. Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75–86. Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Moats, L. (Winter 2005/06). How spelling supports reading—and why it is more regular and predictable than you may think. American Educator, 12–22, 42–43. National Center for Education Statistics. (2012). The nation’s report card: Writing 2011 (NCES 2012–470). Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. National Commission on Writing in America’s Schools and Colleges. (2003). The neglected “R”: The need for a writing revolution. New York, NY: College Board.

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards. Washington, DC: Author. Peverly, S. (2012, January). The relationship of transcription speed and other cognitive variables to note-taking and test performance. Paper presented at Handwriting in the 21st Century? An Educational Summit, co-sponsored by American Association of School Administrators and Zaner Bloser, Washington, DC. Rand Corporation. (2012). Teachers matter: Understanding teachers’ impact on student achievement. Retrieved from corporate_ pubs/2012/RAND_CP693z1-2012-09.pdf Scott, C. M. (1999). Learning to write. In A. G. Kamhi & H. W. Catts (Eds.), Language and reading disabilities (pp. 224–258). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon. Scott, C. M. (2005). Learning to write. In A. G. Kamhi & H. W. Catts (Eds.), Language and reading disabilities (pp. 233–273). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon. Scott, C. M. (2009). A case for the sentence in reading comprehension. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 40, 184–191. Tierney, R. J., & Shanahan, T. (1991). Research on the reading-writing relationship: Interactions, transactions and outcomes. In R. Barr, M. L. Kamil, P. Mosenthal, & P. D. Pearson (Eds.), Handbook of reading research: Volume II (pp. 246–280). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. U.S. Department of Education. (2011). Secretary Arne Duncan’s remarks at the Education Sector Forum. Retrieved from new-approach-teachereducation-reform-and-improvement

Judith Hochman, Ed.D., is the author of Teaching Basic Writing Skills: Strategies for Effective Expository Writing Instruction. She is the former Superintendent of the Greenburgh Graham Union Free School District and former Head of The Windward School in New York. Dr. Hochman is the founder and senior faculty member of the Windward Teacher Training Institute. She established The Writing Revolution, a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to teaching students from underserved school districts to think clearly and reflect that thinking in their writing. You can write to Dr. Hochman at jhochman@ Betsy MacDermott-Duffy, M.S.Ed., is the Director of Language Arts at The Windward School and former Director of Curriculum Instruction at The Graham School. She presents at conferences throughout the United States on reading, writing, vocabulary strategies and the CCSS, and serves as a consultant for several online educational companies. Ms. MacDermottDuffy is the author of the Teaching Basic Writing Skills Activity Templates. In addition to holding a master’s degree in learning disabilities, Ms. MacDermott-Duffy is certificated in advanced graduate study of staff development and holds a master’s degree in school administration and supervision. n

Read Annals of Dyslexia Online! Volume 65, Issue 1, April 2015 IDA members can access the following articles from the April 2015 issue of Annals of Dyslexia with all the benefits of electronic access: • Greater functional connectivity between reading and error-detection regions following training with the reading acceleration program in children with reading difficulties Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus & Scott K. Holland • Evaluation of ocular movements in patients with dyslexia Aldo Vagge, Margherita Cavanna, Carlo Enrico Traverso, & Michele Iester • Reading difficulties in Spanish adults with dyslexia Paz Suárez-Coalla & Fernando Cuetos

Member Access: You can access the digital edition of Annals of Dyslexia any time through IDA’s Members Only website. Simply log in from using your password and IDA member number (from the Perspectives mailing label). The print edition is available to members at a special rate of $15 per year. Members can request the print edition when they join or email Christy Blevins at Nonmember Access: If you are not a member of IDA, but would like to view the latest issue of Annals of Dyslexia online, please call Springer’s customer service department at (800) 777-4643 or (212) 460-1500.



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Head Lines

High Quality Teachers Matter Most By Dr. John J. Russell, Head of School

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” ~Henry Brooks Adams


he quality of teachers has long been identified as the most significant influence on student achievement. Acknowledging the importance of teacher quality, the federal No Child Left Behind Act (P.L. 107-110, 2002) required that by 2005-06 all children should be taught by “highly qualified” teachers in the core academic subjects (Palmer, 2015). Unfortunately this ambitious goal is not close to being achieved. In July 2014, The New York Times published an insightful article written by Elizabeth Green that reinforces Adams’s thesis regarding the profound effect that teachers have on their students and underscores the necessity of highly qualified teachers. In her piece, Ms. Green identifies the poor quality of teacher preparation programs as one of the root causes of American students’ poor math performance. Tragically, lack of adequate training is not limited to the preparation of math teachers. Also in 2014, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released its annual review of teacher preparation programs in the United States, Teacher Prep Review 2014. As was the case in previous studies, colleges and universities were once again cited for their substandard preparation of teachers. As Ms. Green noted, and the NCTQ report confirms, there remains a significant disconnect between the preparation teachers need in order to be successful, and the preparation they actually receive in their pre-service and graduate education courses. Teacher preparation programs simply do not sufficiently prepare new teachers for the classroom, and state licensing examinations are not rigorous enough to protect students from teachers who are ill-equipped to teach not only math but also reading, writing, science, and social studies. As part of its 2014 review, NCTQ evaluated 687 college and university pre-service teacher education programs that claim to prepare teachers to teach students who are identified as “struggling readers” and found that 75% of these programs did not meet the basic

standards set by NCTQ. Further buttressing the link between the poor quality of preparation of reading teachers and future student performance, Joshi and his colleagues (2009) found that only 2% of the students who receive remedial instruction for reading difficulties complete a 4-year post-high school degree. In order to teach reading effectively, teachers must be knowledgeable of oral and written language concepts as well as the most effective research-based instructional practices (Budin, Mather, & Cheesman, 2010). Unfortunately, undergraduate and graduate education programs are not providing teachers with this knowledge. Writing in the Journal of Learning Disabilities (2009), Louisa Moats cites research by Walsh, Glaser, & DunneWilcox (2006) that states, “courses provided in teacher licensing programs are often insufficient in content and design to enable the students to learn the subject matter and apply it to the teaching of reading.” An earlier study (Moats & Lyon, 1996) also demonstrated that teachers have “insufficiently developed concepts about language and pervasive conceptual weaknesses in the very skills that are needed for direct, systematic, language-focused reading instruction, such as the abilities to count phonemes and to identify phonic relationships.” Moats and Lyon’s findings have been confirmed by Cheesman et al. (2009) who found that only 18 percent of first-year teachers could distinguish between phonemic awareness and phonics instruction. In public and independent schools across the nation, there has been a very slow but increasing awareness of the inadequacy of teacher preparation programs. At The Windward School, we have long recognized the deficits that smart, conscientious teachers bring with them simply because they did not receive proper training at their colleges and universities to effectively teach reading and writing. Recognizing that all of its teachers would benefit from a comprehensive research-based professional development program, the School created the Windward Teacher Training Institute (WTTI) in 1988. The WTTI is dedicated to providing the type of training that enables

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professionals to acquire the expertise needed to teach children of This mentoring is the second critical reason that Windward all abilities in both mainstream and remedial classrooms. It offers teachers become such high-quality teachers capable of delivering professional development based on the most current, scientifically a research-based program in the most effective manner. validated research in reading and writing instruction as well as Windward teachers’ passion for providing high-quality child development, learning theory, and pedagogy. WTTI courses, instruction is clearly evident in their commitment to workshops, and lectures translate this research into practical professional development that continues unabated for their classroom applications. entire career at Windward. For example, last year Windward’s Every new Windward faculty member—those with teaching faculty collectively participated in over 10,000 hours of experience as well as those just starting their teaching career— professional development. enter a two-year professional development program at WTTI. Given the dedication of Windward teachers and the high This teacher-training program is demanding and intensive. It is quality of the instruction they deliver, it is not surprising that one of the reasons our teachers are incredibly knowledgeable of they have a profound effect on the success that their students the language concepts that are essential for teaching children to achieve. Over the last 10 years, 98% of the students who left read with confidence, write with purpose, and achieve the skills necessary to lead a life of fulfillment and accomplishment. “Windward teachers’ passion for providing high-quality Knowledge of research-based curriculums in instruction is clearly evident in their commitment to reading and writing is absolutely necessary, but professional development that continues unabated for not sufficient to insure high quality teaching. Teachers must also be able to effectively deliver their entire career at Windward.” instruction. Typically, teachers are expected to learn how to deliver instruction in methods Windward were reading in the average to above average range, classes and during their time as student-teachers. Most preand contrary to Joshi’s findings, Windward’s once “struggling service teacher education programs require only 12 weeks of readers” go on to success in colleges and universities (see our field work as student-teachers. Only recently has there been a profile of alumnus Andrew Mollerus on page 12 in this edition somewhat muted call to extend this period of instructional skill of The Beacon). development (Education Week, July 28, 2015). Windward students’ academic performance and the Since the inception of Windward’s professional development testimonials of countless Windward alumni and their parents programs, all teachers new to the School have been required to confirm the profound immediate and long-term effects that work in the classrooms of a master teacher for extended periods Windward’s dedicated, highly qualified teachers have on their of time – minimally one year, more often two or three years. In students. As Head of School, I am motivated every day by my addition to the invaluable learning experience of seeing master agreement with Henry Brooks Adams and by my conviction teachers expertly deliver our research-based language program, that every Windward teacher “affects eternity.” We will never be new teachers receive continuous coaching and mentoring from able to tell where our influence stops; I suspect it never does. n the master teachers, curriculum coordinators, and administrators.



Fall 2015 The Beacon

Evolving Perspectives on Child Discipline: The Intersection of Social Trends and Science By David Anderson, Ph.D.


t’s the small stuff—the everyday rituals—that can sometimes lead to the most predictable and stressful patterns of parent-child interaction. Morning, homework, mealtime, and bedtime routines are often paired with significant time pressure, conflicting needs, and thoughts about what has to get done in order to be ready for the following day. For busy families, there may only be rare, fleeting moments to really think through and strategize around the cycles of family interactions that happen day in and day out. And when children misbehave, even the most capable, loving, and devoted parents can find themselves at a loss when it comes to handling the situation effectively.

... over 30 countries have banned the use of corporal punishment altogether, while 19 U.S. states still allow corporal punishment of children in schools On the subject of child discipline and behavior management, there is a lot of help, advice, and information out there. However, it can be extremely difficult for parents to sift through it all, especially amidst so much pressure to get it right and to do so right away. The New York Times bestsellers [photo at right] highlight a number of trends at work in the pressurecooker of modern parenting, promising to help parents to promote their child’s success in life, foster grit and resilience,

build character, and solve problems in communication with children. Much of the material in these resources is drawn from research, but it can be hard to see how the research translates into everyday life. In fact, to illustrate the contrast between understanding behavior management conceptually and actually becoming adept at applying these strategies, the book, How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, begins with a particularly brilliant witticism, “I was a wonderful parent before I had children,” (Faber & Mazlish, 2012, p.1). During the most challenging moments of child and adolescent behavior, a good book about parenting strategies might not be as prominent in a parent’s mind as the wish for a quick solution, something that will immediately stop the behavior that is occurring at that very moment. Certain techniques, such as yelling or lecturing the child about why their behavior was wrong, might appear to work for a brief period, but soon enough, the behaviors return. Especially with young children, parent surveys suggest that a significant majority of parents will eventually utilize some form of physical punishment like spanking (McKee et al., 2007). The practice persists even when a wealth of research has strongly indicated that these interventions do not increase long-term compliance or decrease

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aggression (Gershoff, 2013), may lead to increased problems in the parent-child relationship, and contribute to higher risk for anxiety disorders, depression, and substance use over the course of the child’s development (Gershoff & Bitensky, 2007). Moreover, just the addition of positive parenting practices and increased parental warmth does not effectively buffer against the developmental effects of harsh verbal or physical discipline (McKee et al., 2007). Instead, evidence-based intervention for behavioral problems requires replacing harsh discipline with a package of strategies involving reinforcing positive behavior, withdrawing attention from minor misbehavior, sparingly but consistently applying punishment, and developing valuable cognitive-behavioral and problem-solving skills (Eyberg, Nelson, & Boggs, 2008). Even in light of this abundance of clear scientific evidence related to child discipline, the interplay of sociopolitical forces and societal attitudes is much more complex and nuanced on this topic. Forehand and McKinney (1993) have traced how movements in child discipline have evolved over the past few centuries, highlighting how social trends have vacillated back and forth between recommendations for strict or lax child discipline while also noting the only very recent transition of authority on discipline from religious to psychological experts.

Furthermore, the recent coverage of Adrian Peterson’s NFL suspension powerfully illustrated a wide range of media and press viewpoints on child discipline. And finally, certain issues illuminate stark disparities on international and national levels: over 30 countries have banned the use of corporal punishment altogether, while 19 U.S. states still allow corporal punishment of children in schools (Gershoff, 2013). At times, it can feel like there are an overwhelming number of persuasive and ever-evolving viewpoints to consider. In my upcoming Fall Community Lecture at the Windward School, I will provide a framework for vibrant discussion of perspectives on child discipline, incorporating videos and visual aids to contextualize and blend these issues with the most up-to-date psychological research. For more information, please visit https://


Eyberg, S.M., Nelson, M.N., & Boggs, S.R. (2008). Evidence-based psychosocial treatments for children and adolescents with disruptive behavior. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 37(1), 215-237. Faber, A. & Mazlish, E. (2012). How to talk so kids will listen & listen so kids will talk. New York: Avon Books. Forehand, R.F., & McKinney, B. (1993). Historical overview of child discipline in the United States: Implications for mental health clinicians and researchers. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 2(3), 221-228. Gershoff, E.T. (2013). Spanking and child development: We know enough now to stop hitting our children. Child Development Perspectives, 7(3), 133-137. Gershoff, E.T., & Bitensky, S.H. (2007). The case against corporal punishment of children: Converging evidence from social science research and international human rights law and implications for U.S. public policy. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 13(4), 231-272. McKee, L., Roland, E., Coffelt, N., Olson, A.L., Forehand, R., Massari, C., Jones, D., Gaffney, C.A., & Zens, M.S. (2007). Harsh discipline and child problem behaviors: The roles of positive parenting and gender. Journal of Family Violence, 22, 187-196. n


Fall 2015 The Beacon

Faculty Essay

The Windward School Vocabulary Program: A Research-Based Approach By Betsy MacDermott-Duffy, M.S. Ed. Director of Language Arts and Instruction

“The more words you know, the more clearly and powerfully you will think ... and the more ideas you will invite into your mind.”

~Wilfred Funk, President of Funk & Wagnalls


ust as there is a need for a revolution in writing instruction, there is also an urgent need for more systematic, intensive, and effective vocabulary instruction grounded in research-based strategies. The American Educator (2003) published the article “The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3.” This summary of research by University of Kansas scientists Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley alerted professionals to the fact that early language experiences in low socioeconomic environments can have lasting effects on a child’s academic performance later in life. Students who enter school with language impairments are also known to be at high risk for literacy deficits. A strong, positive, reciprocal relationship between word knowledge and reading comprehension is indicated in the research on reading and vocabulary. The National Reading Panel identifies vocabulary as one of five major components of reading and links its importance specifically to reading comprehension and to overall school success. Additionally, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), a set of national benchmarks to ensure college and career readiness, places an emphasis on vocabulary throughout the reading, writing, language, speaking and listening strands. In order to address vocabulary growth in schools, it is necessary to understand how to create effective word learning environments. Early word learning takes place through oral contexts, and languagerich environments clearly play a role in vocabulary development throughout life. However, the research indicates that once children learn to decode, most words are

learned indirectly through wide reading, i.e., reading that exposes students to a variety of topics, vocabulary, and concepts (Cunningham & Stanovich, 2001; Stahl, 1999; Nagy & Herman, 1985). In a later work by Ann E. Cunningham (2005), it was further noted that structured readalouds, discussion sessions, and independent reading experiences, both at school and home, encourage vocabulary growth in students. Just as important, however, is the fact that explicitly teaching certain words, morphology, and word origins should be an essential part of any vocabulary program (Beck, McKeown & Kucan, 2002; Blachowicz & Fisher; Juel & Deffes, 2004). The Windward School vocabulary program incorporates all these important research-based features for robust vocabulary learning through multifaceted instruction. The language-based curriculum at The Windward School provides carefully planned content information presented to facilitate learning and enrich the language experiences of the students through reading, writing, and discussions. Teachers examine every lesson in order to identify hidden language demands that may pose challenges for students. Teachers annotate text and designate a range of questions and comments to be used during the lesson, identifying crucial vocabulary. For readings, teachers plan and provide student-friendly definitions for unfamiliar words that may present comprehension difficulties for students. Research studies have shown significant student vocabulary gains from readings with brief teacher explanations of words; therefore, providing a quick explanation of unknown terms is important

(Johnson & Yeates, 2007). Teachers also utilize a planning tool called a 4-square to carefully create a balance of simple to complex comments and questions based on Bloom’s Taxonomy, a hierarchy of question terms that teachers use to guide students through a learning process. Then, teachers present content starting with a review of prior knowledge of skills and concepts in an organized and sequential manner while continually assessing understanding. This approach to planning and teaching promotes language engagement and comprehension of important vocabulary words and concepts during lessons. Another integral part of The Windward School curriculum is ReadAlouds, which serve multiple purposes. In grades one through four a designated 15-minute Read-Aloud period is scheduled four times per week. In addition both fiction and non-fiction Read-Alouds are incorporated in the language arts classes as well as science, math, social studies, and library periods. As students advance to middle school, teachers continue to use a wide range of Read-Aloud materials. Books and articles are read to students in classes as stimuli for discussion and writing assignments. Reading aloud to students also helps develop thinking skills, vocabulary, a love of reading, and background knowledge, in addition to providing motivation for curriculum topics. Since the research supports some explicit instruction of vocabulary words, stressing the importance of repetition and multiple exposures to words, the School uses a carefully designed vocabulary model based on the work of Isabel Beck (2002).

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3-Tier Model for Choosing Vocabulary Words from Text Low-frequency words peninsula/ metamorphosis/oligarchy Tier 3

Beck’s work is widely cited throughout years of research on vocabulary acquisition, specifically in the National Reading Panel Report and in the appendices of the CCSS. Beck and her colleagues created a three-tiered system for selecting target words to deep teach. Tier 1 words include basic, concrete words that children generally know and don’t have to be taught, unless they are English language learners. These include words such as walk, store, and baby. Tier 2 words are more abstract, general academic words that can be used across content areas. They are often encountered in written language more than in oral language and have high utility for usage. Tier 2 words are generally taught within the language arts lessons. These include words such as ludicrous, neutral, and critical. Consider the word critical, and think about its high utility usage in various contexts. Examples would be a critical debate, critical mass in physics, critical thinking, critical care, critical

Tier 2

Words to Teach neutral/revolution/Compound melancholy/sinister/ludicrous

Tier 1

Basic Words baby/walk/happy/house

acclaim, critical wartime specialties, to be critical. Although the model calls for brief lessons in direct vocabulary instruction, the lessons are well-designed, embedded in rich contexts, and highly engaging. Using the Beck Model, teachers carefully choose Tier 2 words, and the students are provided multiple opportunities to practice the

specialized, content-specific words with precise meanings such as colonists, isotope, and peninsula. These words are comprehensively taught in the content areas. If the word peninsula were to appear in a current events article read in a language arts class, the teacher would quickly define it as “a piece of land that is

Reading widely, writing about expository topics, and explicitly teaching carefully selected words, word learning strategies, morphology, and word origins are all important components in any vocabulary learning program. words from many perspectives. This strategy affords students chances to learn new vocabulary, practice pronouncing the words, generalize word learning strategies, and develop an interest in and an appreciation for words. Students at The Windward School truly enjoy learning vocabulary by participating in this very interactive group experience. In contrast, Tier 3 words are highly

bordered by water on three sides” and possibly point to Florida on a map for clarification. This would not be an example of deep teaching a word, but rather a carefully constructed first exposure to the term. In order to deep teach Tier 3 words in social studies and science classes, teachers guide students in the creation of concept cards that go beyond the simple Cont’d on page 14


Fall 2015 The Beacon

The Windward School Vocabulary Program: A Research-Based Approach

Cont’d from page 13 definitional knowledge of flashcards. Students create their own concept sentences by answering question words, using phonological and morphological information about the word, and deciding on related terms. (See Figure 1.) This strategic model helps students focus on key components of the concept term, use individually designed drawings to represent the concept, and associate related words and prior knowledge. The model for the card is based on 25 years of research that came out of The University of Kansas

Center for Research on Learning and research from best practices in language development. Beyond careful lesson planning, the Beck Model and concept cards, vocabulary development is enhanced through advanced work in multisyllable words, spelling patterns, a study of Greek and Latin roots, and higher level work in morphology. The vocabulary program at The Windward School has continued to develop over the past several years. From testing results on the vocabulary subtest of

the Stanford 10 Achievement Test, the trend since 2010 has been a statistically significant increase in the average mean of students’ vocabulary scores. This appears to be a direct result of the program’s impact and the manner in which faculty and students embrace it as an important component of the curriculum. Reading widely, writing about expository topics, and explicitly teaching carefully selected words, word learning strategies, morphology, and word origins are all important components in any vocabulary learning program. These are the constituents of The Windward School vocabulary program that improve students’ vocabulary, develop word consciousness, provide rich and varied language experiences and, most importantly, foster a love of learning words! References

Figure 1. Concept Card

Beck, I. L., McKeown, M. G., & Kucan, L. (2002). Bringing words to life: Robust vocabulary instruction. New York: Guilford Press Blachowicz, Camille L. Z., and Peter Fisher. “Vocabulary Lessons.” Educational Leadership (March 2004): 66-69. Cunningham, A. E. (2005). Vocabulary growth through independent reading and reading aloud to children. In E.H. Hiebert & M. Kamil (Eds.), Bringing Scientific Research to Practice: Vocabulary (pp. 45-68). Mahwah, N.J.: Erlbaum. Cunningham, A., & Stanovich, K. (2001). What reading does for the mind. Journal of Direct Instruction, 1(2), 137–149. Hart, B. & Risley, T.R. “The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3.” (2003, spring). American Educator, pp.4-9 Johnson, C. J., & Yeates, E. (2007). Evidence-Based Vocabulary Instruction for Elementary Students Via Storybook Reading. EBP Briefs, 1, 25-40 Juel, C. & Deffes, R. (2004). Making words stick. Educational Leadership: What Research Says about Reading. 61 (6), 30-34. Nagy, W., Herman, P., and Anderson, R. 1985. Learning words from context. Reading Research Quarterly 17: 233-255. Stahl, S.A. (1999). Vocabulary development. Cambridge, MA: Brookline. n

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Windward Teacher Training Institute

WTTI Expands to its First-Ever Simulcast The summer 2015 program at Windward Teacher Training Institute (WTTI) hosted over 400 teachers from The Windward School and public and independent schools worldwide. Courses included Expository Writing Instruction, Meaningful Math, Improving Math Competence, Multisensory Reading Instruction, Multisensory Reading Practicum, and Language, Learning and Literacy: Foundations of Academic Success. During the Multisensory Reading course, presented by Phyllis Bertin, M.S., co-author of Preventing Academic Failure (PAF), more than 50 educators from the El Dorado School District in Arkansas joined via teleconferencing the 75 local teachers who were in attendance at WTTI for Windward’s first-ever simulcast of a full-length course. The event was a seminal moment in WTTI’s efforts to expand the reach and impact of the professional development offerings based on scientifically validated research in child development, learning theory and pedagogy. Go to for more information. n

After the simulcast, Phyllis Bertin, M.S., answered participants’ questions about the Multisensory Reading course.



Fall 2015 The Beacon

Alumnus Profile

Andrew Mollerus, Class of 2012:

A Scholar and a Sailor By Bonni Brodnick


hen Andrew Mollerus ’12 speaks, one is immediately struck by his congenial and modest eloquence. He downplays his meteoric academic success, his accomplishments and awards in math and the sciences, and his distinguished career as a competitive sailor who has raced competitively in more than 15 countries. It is hard to believe that this remarkably gifted young man with so many triumphs once struggled both academically and personally. By the time Andrew was in second grade at Rye Country Day School, he was frustrated

Clearly, Windward and Andrew thought otherwise,” writes Mrs. Mollerus, Andrew’s mother, in a recent note to Head of School, Dr. Russell. As a third grader, Andrew came to the Lower School where Windward’s classroom size and instructional style immediately addressed his learning differences. “The teaching was far beyond anything I had ever seen. You get to the School, and you can see results within a month, which was just incredible,” Andrew recalls. Soon, he was volunteering to answer questions in class and reading voraciously. His self-confidence soared, and he

“Once I started at Windward, both my sailing and my studies improved. I don’t really know why, but they fed off of each other. While the skill sets are different, there’s an overlap with respect to being highly attentive and highly organized.” that he wasn’t keeping up with his classmates. “I was the one kid in class who couldn’t read and didn’t want to learn how,” he says. In recollecting how difficult it was to complete assignments, Andrew remembers one day when he was doing homework in the back of the car. “I took the homework and threw it at the front windshield.” Shortly thereafter, his family sought out The Windward School. “I recall very clearly the day Andrew met with the psychologist who conducted the first testing. He thought it unlikely that Andrew would ever attend college.

embraced his newly discovered reading skills, going through “maybe 100 books” within six months. “The summer before I came to Windward, I also took my first sailing class. Once I started at Windward, both my sailing and my studies improved. I don’t really know why, but they fed off of each other. While the skill sets are different, there’s an overlap with respect to being highly attentive and highly organized. It was really refreshing to start being decent at something.” Andrew remained at Windward for three years and competed in his first

national sailing championship the summer before returning to Rye Country Day School in sixth grade. When he reached high school, his course load included honors English, physics, and other math and science classes. He was recognized with numerous academic awards, including the Rensselaer Award from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which honors those high school students who excel in math and science. At the conclusion of Andrew’s sophomore year, he was invited to join his school’s physics team, which went on to win the United States Association for Young Physicists Tournament at the Institute for Science Education in Oak Ridge, Tenn. He was a founding member of SCOPE, a program that offers after-school tutoring to underserved children in the local area. The self-proclaimed “dyslexic scholar” went on to receive the George Washington University Medal for Excellence in Math and Science, presented to the junior with the highest average in mathematics. All the while, Andrew applied the same focus and drive in the classroom as he did at the helm of a sailboat. “To really push hard at anything, whether it’s school or athletics, you need to be ready to commit and give it your all,” he says. “I was able to directly see the results from applying these skills at Windward. The School allowed me to enter every future endeavor I encountered knowing that if you put in the time and work hard, you will be successful and see the results and rewards. I was lucky to get to Windward as early as I did. It’s a place

Fall 2015 The Beacon


Andrew Mollerus ’12 and his college crew, Sydney Karnovsky, at the 2015 collegiate nationals in Newport, Rhode Island. that can turn your life around.” Andrew’s steadfast determination paid off. Upon graduation from Rye Country Day School in 2012, he was accepted to Harvard University, where he is now a senior. Last spring he was elected to the Junior 24, one of 24 juniors at Harvard honored with admission to Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest undergraduate honors society in the United States. To be eligible for the Phi Beta Kappa 24, a student must have one of the 48 highest GPAs in their class. This record of outstanding scholarly achievement must show both depth of study and breadth of intellectual interest. From those 48 juniors, the election committee then chooses the 24 who most fit their criteria. Along with excelling in his studies and being a select member of the Junior 24, Andrew continues to make a major commitment of his time and energies to sailing. September through November, and February through June, he competes for the Harvard Sailing Team. His rigorous sailing schedule includes three 3-hour long practices during the week and from 9 a.m.5 p.m. on weekends. He takes December off, and in January begins training in Florida. From June through August, Andrew and his brother Matthew race in

the 49er Class in Europe or California where they practice with hopes of qualifying for the Olympics one day. “Harvard is like Windward,” Andrew says. “There are a lot of people pushing very hard at what they do. The focus that many apply to their studies at Harvard epitomizes the qualities that Windward imbues.” “Every piece of the Windward education is very purposeful and carefully designed. The teaching staff is remarkably driven, dedicated and capable,” he continues. “Unknowingly, students absorb a lot of that energy.” “Windward also fosters a community of students. And though they may be too young to totally understand their learning differences, they embrace the fact that education is really important. From the day you step in there, you know that everything you do helps you overcome your challenges.” In the past, Andrew has praised Windward for providing “… the best systematic, executed education I’ve seen at any level.” When asked if he still believed this, he responded, “I absolutely still think that’s true.” “One thing that was emphasized at Windward, and that I apply every day, is

‘Learn how you learn.’ You consistently have to evaluate the process of learning so that you can best tackle a problem. If you get really good at teaching yourself how to learn, you will get far.” In her note to Dr. Russell, Mrs. Mollerus writes, “Over the years we have had moments to renew our gratitude for Andrew’s time at Windward – successful report cards, high school graduation and college admission all come to mind. The School gave him the skills he needed to work to the best of his ability in any setting, and we are deeply grateful that Andrew had the opportunity to attend Windward. All of us are thankful that the School set Andrew on a very successful path.” Andrew continues to raise the bar high. He sets his sights on being an economist either in industry, in academia, or in the government. He also hopes to go to the Olympics and win a medal for the United States. When asked by The Beacon if he had any inspiring words he would like to share with current Windward students who have learning differences, Andrew responds, “Dive in and commit to what is laid before you. Confront what challenges you. You definitely have the ability. It just takes faith and hard work to get you there.” n

The Windward School



The Windward School 40 West Red Oak Lane White Plains, NY 10604-3602 Return Service Requested If this issue is a duplicate or addressed incorrectly, please notify

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The Windward School Newsletter for Educators and Parents Fall 2015

Dr. John J. Russell Head of School Jonathan Rosenshine Associate Head of School Board of Trustees 2015–16 Thomas E. Flanagan President Michael R. Salzer 1st Vice President Timothy M. Jones 2nd Vice President Mark A. Ellman Treasurer Susan C. Salice Secretary Ellen Bowman Fredrick J. Chapey, Jr. Thomas J. Coleman Elizabeth A. Crain Amy Jo Dowd Alexander A. Gendzier Mark Goldberg Arthur A. Gosnell John K. Halvey Craig M. Hatkoff Mitchell J. Katz Gregory D. Kennedy Stacy S. Kuhn Christine LaSala Janice Meyer Katie J. Robinson Eric Schwartz Ann F. Sullivan Robert J. Sweeney Lou Switzer Patricia L. Wolff Devon S. Fredericks, Trustee Emerita Editor Bonni Brodnick Director of Publications Design Design for Business Visit The Windward School website:


Windward Teacher Training Institute (WTTI), a division of The Windward School, provides professional development based on scientifically validated research in child development, learning theory and pedagogy. WTTI offers national certification for its Teaching and Instructor of Teaching levels in Multisensory Structured Language Education. WTTI offers more than 35 classes throughout the year. For further information:

(914) 949-6968, ext. 1270 WindwardTTI

Windward Teacher Training Institute

The Beacon - Effective Writing Instruction and More - Fall 2015  

The Beacon is a biannual newsletter containing research articles either written by Windward faculty and staff members or articles of interes...

The Beacon - Effective Writing Instruction and More - Fall 2015  

The Beacon is a biannual newsletter containing research articles either written by Windward faculty and staff members or articles of interes...