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Wednesday Writing Tip

Welcome back everyone! I hope that you are finding this series helpful and are finding ways to make teaching writing more pleasant. I know when I was switched to teaching writing only for my cluster, I was in a panic. Writing me! No WAY! I was determined to be the best at it just to make a point. The point being
1. I could teach anything that was given to me.
2. I was determine to make it an exciting subject for kids. 

A few weeks ago, I went to a training about Best Practices in writing. It was nice to stop and reflect on what was happening in my own classroom. About a year and a half ago, my school decided to change our writing series. We were using Writing Fundamentals. 

The thing about this series is that after you complete the lesson in the unit binder you are suppose to have a specific type of writing piece. With our students, they were only getting a pile of graphic organizers. They didn't enjoy writing and it was completely miserable to teach it. I started just reading the common core and tried to understand what the standards were asking and being making a plan. 

After months of trying and and retrying, our district curriculum person came and said she wanted us to look at a new series that our school was going to think about using. Being a Writer was that series. 

It was some funny to be sitting in a training and it discuss ways to use Best Practices in Writing and they used our new series. Let me just say I am not saying go out and buy this because it may not work for you and you may not be the type to use a series. I don't always like using a manual either. I will say that this series did change my students view of writing. They went from hating writing to loving the fact that they were writers. 

Now here is the steps that I take to help my students keep that love going. 

1. Goals/Standards
I started to share my goals/standards with my students in a new way. I make it look as though it is a rubric. It goes along with the new PGES systems that schools are using across the country. For example: a 3 on the standard board is for the current grade level.  A 4 is for the grade above. 
I display this on the Interwrite board before I start the lesson.

Example of a 2nd grade standard display.

2. Mentor Texts
The biggest thing to mentor texts is that it is meaningful. We know this but sometimes we still go a fluff book and it doesnt help us to get our lessons or purpose across. I will say the series we use has a lot of great books. I have also been using Reading with Meaning by Debbie Miller's book to help me build my library. That book as a wealth of books. 

3. Working with a Partner
At the beginning of each unit, I have students draw a number. They will then use that number and find a new partner to work with until the unit is over. I make sure that they are sitting next to each other so that they can share. It is very important that they get the opportunity to work with a peer to brainstorm their ideas or to read what they have written. 

4. Model, Model, Model
I can't emphasize this enough. It is very important that they understand the process of writing. I have a notebook that I write in for a couple of minutes before I work with a students. I want my students to not only help in creating a class work but see me as a writer. Modeling is the a big key!

5. Writing Time
During the writing time, I have told the students that we have to work quietly so that everyone has a chance to think about what they want to say on paper. I try to build their stamina by telling them that we will graph for every minute they go past the previous day. Kinders I want to write for 10 minutes. 1st grade, I want them to write 20-30 minutes. 2nd grade, I want them to write from 30-45 minutes. Now this all depends on your schedule and what time you have. The key is that you set your expectations for how you want the writing time to look and stick to it. 

6. Reflection/Sharing
The last component is reflecting on their work. During this time I have the students take about 1-2 minutes and reread what they have written and double check that what they are thinking is coming across. Then it leads us to the sharing. I pick 3 students to come and share their writing for the day. We discuss and review what good listeners do as well as what a presenter does. This is a nice time for students to hear each other and to share. I sometimes have my kids share only to their partner. You just need to consider the sharing if you are not already doing it. 

I really hope that this has helped you think a little bit about your writing time. If this is a hard time to teach for you, maybe this will help you to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

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