Welcome to the very first post of Writing Sundays for the 2014-2015 school year. I am so excited to get this party started and I hope that many of you reading this will be kind enough to share your comments and suggestions for others. We can all learn from each other – that’s for sure.
Last year (when my blog was called The Perks of Teaching Primary), I ran a series of posts for Writing Sundays on a variety of writing and balanced literacy things I was doing in my 2nd grade classroom. You can access that here. This year, I will have a 2/3 combination so many of my posts will be geared to that level. But, as always, my lessons and ideas are often open ended so generally speaking, they should apply to 1st-4th grade learners with adaptations. I will have lots of pictures in future posts that you can use to Pin for later.
I would like to also take a moment to credit these awesome people for their fonts and/or clip art in my button and throughout this series.: Educlips, Whimsy Workshop Teaching, KG Fonts and Hello Fonts. Thank you!
Let’s get started by taking a look at what my typical Writing Program schedule may look like.
I usually reserve Mondays for language and spelling skills. I have two reasons for doing that. One: I find it a great way to settle the students back into routine after the weekend and get them thinking about working on their printing, their spelling and their overall language skills. Two: I usually send home a spelling list each week on a Monday for students to practice their words and we have a test on Friday. I don’t necessarily think that spelling lists are the answer to improving spelling but kids love them, parents love that they have something that they can help with each week and I love to be able to give them a sticker for their efforts on Fridays.
On Tuesdays, and Thursdays, I introduce or keep working on Author Studies. Author studies, for me, are the single best way to expose kids to different styles and genres of quality children’s literature. Also, students love knowing that a selection of books are all written by the same author. They have fun picking out and discussing the various authors and have even more fun practicing the skills themselves in their interactive writing notebooks. Don’t forget – one of the Write Traits is “conventions” so students are receiving conventions lessons A LOT but having fun while doing them!
On Wednesdays and Fridays, my class loves to do Writer’s Workshop. This is when they are often able to write freely and on a topic of their choice. I don’t do this at the beginning of the year because I would like to teach them the “routines” and guidelines of Writer’s Workshop so that it doesn’t become chaos. Once you have chaos, it’s hard to erase that afterwards. Next week, I will discuss how I set up my Writer’s Workshop routines and expectations.
At the beginning of the year, students are given a lesson and/or topic and then asked to write about it afterwards. For example, I may be covering “retelling” or “beginning, middle and end” and students may be asked to do a writing assignment that represents their knowledge of the topic. Many times it’s about a book we have read (from our author or not) so that they have a frame of reference for their ideas. This also allows me to show how they can write about something by giving examples and sharing other students’ work. If it is too open-ended at the beginning of the year, there is no frame of reference so I like the power of modelling. As the weeks go on, I slowly start letting go of the topics and may introduce a genre and then students may write about whatever topic they want but in that genre.
Teaching writing for me, is about showing students how purposeful it can be whether it is to persuade or to entertain or other. Once they see the value in writing, it is not so much of a chore.
I invite you to visit the Minds in Bloom blog by +Rachel Lynnette. Not only is it an amazing blog, but I will be having a guest post on Writing Across the Curriculum published there some time today. This may give you some more ideas how you can incorporate writing throughout your day with students not even noticing!
Thanks for reading today and I wish you a great week of teaching! See you next Sunday!