Meta-cognition and Jane
Dear Dr. D',
I was talking to an administrator who was not understanding why the students were struggling to write even when they were given graphic organizers and step-by-step instructions on what to do ("Read the prompt, brainstorm, plan/outline, draft, revise"). I explained that just because students are told those steps, doesn't mean they know how to apply them. Most writing programs give the steps and various graphic organizers. What they don't provide is the metacognitive writing piece--"How do I think my way to an idea?" Or "What comes next?" Or "How do I think my way through that step?"
What's GOLD about Jane is that we first show a model of every step, and then we do group writing so students see each step in action and learn the thinking behind each step. We don't send them on their own until they are ready. Some are ready before others, but the program allows us to modify for this. Each student can come to a full understanding of the writing process in his/her own time. I've not seen any other writing program that does that. Sure, some programs give a bazillion handouts and types of topic sentences and color-coding and what goes where--but they don't have what [Jane] has in terms of modeling or commentary and, most importantly, the thinking behind coming up with the thoughts that are put on paper.