I do not profess to be an expert in teaching writing. If you have been reading my blog, you know that I have been involved in several on-line summer book studies that involve teaching writing to kids and I have learned so much through them! Our school adopted the Lucy Calkins writing system and I love this system, too. BUT........ even after all of this, I still did not feel that I was teaching my students to write properly. There was a time when I dreaded; REALLY dreaded our writing block. And I KNOW that my students felt this in me.
So..... one weekend I started to think about what I did when I began to write and the one thing that stood out more than anything was that I organized my thoughts before I started. I ALWAYS draw pictures or write shortened sentences on paper before I begin my writing process. If I am writing my blog, I insert the pictures OR put the pictures in a file before I begin writing. Perhaps this is because I am a visual learner, but SEEING what I want to write makes the words flow faster for me. I feel that little kids begin life as visual learners, so it is a natural flow for them to begin with the pictures and then progress to the words. I also know that if I have step by step directions for how to do something, my students learn it much faster. So through this “AH-HA” moment of mine, I started teaching writing to my students in a structured, VISUAL way and I am THRILLED with the results! My students cheer (yes, they really do!) when it is time for writing! I feel relaxed during our writing block and it is the BEST feeling when we have our writing conferences and my little ones run to get their Drawing and Writing books to share with me what they wrote!
There are several wonderful resources for generating topics in which kids can use for their writing. I have several anchor charts that I use that simply give kids visual clues as to ideas that can be used for their writing. As with most commercial writing systems, I begin topic writing with real life happenings in a child’s life. BUT, as my students become more adept to writing, I allow them to create fictional stories if they wish. I feel imagination in our kids is becoming lost in all the standards and testing that they must succumb to, so adding this element of fun to their writing is something that I allow. I encourage my students to draw sketches of their ideas as they decide upon an idea. Many times, I see them pull out these sketches from their writing folders when they are struggling to think of something in which to write.
In our beginning writing lessons, the booklets are only 4 pages long. Characters are introduced on page 1 (Who), a sentence describing what is happening is written on page 2 (What), a description of the setting is written on page 3 (Where) and a short description of when the story takes place (When) is written on page 4. This beginning writing lesson is VERY structured. We actually do quite a few shared writing activities before they begin their own writing adventure. After my students have a good feel for how to keep a book flowing, I allow them to write their sentences in the order that works the best for them. I keep stapled booklets in the writing center. Presently, the booklets are 4 pages long. Soon, though, I will allow my students to make their own decisions as to the length of their story book. I will have cover paper, inner pages, and a stapler available for them to create their own storybook.
Here is an example of a story one of my students wrote after we performed our Circus. You can see that he followed all the steps for writing a "W" story!
Here is an example from one my students who LOVES our Work on Writing time. You can see that I have allowed her to write a fiction story.
(My students do NOT begin their writing journey with this activity! They need foundational writing experiences first i.e. inventive spelling lessons, labeling, and basic sentence structure.)
Here is the preview of the writing posters that I use in my classroom. You can click on the picture to take you this resource!
And.... just because you are HERE, visiting my blog AND made it to the end of my post, click the image below to grab a copy of this cute Writing poster!
Enjoy writing, My Friends!
Until next time!