Teaching teachers to teach writing

Posted Oct. 12, 2007
Wei Huang
Valerie K. Beltran, associate professor of education, gave a lecture on writing for future educators in the President’s Dining Room on Oct. 1. This writing workshop focused on spelling errors. Beltran is also a K-12 resource teacher in charge of supporting teachers working with English learners.

Alexandra Lozano
Editorial Director

Armed with grammar books, future teachers prepared to face their spelling demons.

About 15 future educators gathered in the President’s Dining Room on Oct. 1 for a writing workshop.

This was the first class of the six-week workshop being led by Valerie Beltran, associate professor of education at the University of La Verne.

The workshop is designed for students entering the credential program who need a little extra help with their writing skills.

“We don’t want you sending home things like this,” said Beltran, displaying a letter with many errors sent home by her daughter’s teacher.

Students were asked to identify all the spelling and grammar mistakes in the sample letter.

The focus of the night was frequently misspelled words.

“We call them your spelling demons,” Beltran said.

“I look for tricks to help my students remember.”

She used the example of the word “witch” and “which.”

“The witch that is sitting on a broom is going to have an itch,” Beltran said.

“We look for little tricks that are going to help us tackle those spelling demons.”

Students were handed worksheets to fill out with their own personal “demons” and create a phrase that would help them spell each word correctly.

Student Laurie Favatella, who recently graduated from UC Santa Cruz is working on her teaching credential.

“I think (the class) is more to help you be able to express yourself,” Favatella said.
“I plan on being very well-rounded.”

The students discussed their best tricks in order to help each other learn.

“Once you’ve got it in your brain, you’ll never forget it,” Beltran said.

Professor Jessica Decker gave tips for the writing process with one strategy named “CAPS.”

This idea helps students review their work and look for any capitals, agreement, punctuation and spelling errors.

“The key to this (is) when you’re using this strategy you are reading through your writing multiple times,” Decker said.

Another helpful idea for the writing process is the “ABCD” approach.

Students are urged to “Attack the prompt, Brainstorm possible answers, choose the order of response and finally review their work to Detect errors.”

Decker also had some advice about the editing process.

“Get some space from it first,” Decker said.

If not, “your mind will see what should be there and not what is there.”

She also suggests doing “whisper reading,” a form of reading out loud because listening to the words will help catch more errors.

“If nothing else, find a buddy and have them explain what was wrong,” Decker said.

The writing workshop meets ever Monday at 7 p.m. in the President’s Dining Room for the next four weeks.

For more information on the workshop, contact Beltran at (909) 593-3511, ext. 4659

Alexandra Lozano can be reached at alozano@ulv.edu.

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