Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Workshop Wednesday: Writing Tips

 Workshop Wednesday: Writing Tips

Wow, it's been a LONG time since I've been able to link up with Jivey (which is sad because she has SO many great ideas and has become one of my go-to people), but I really wanted to make sure I joined in this week for some writing tips.

I'm not sure about you, but writing is something I've always struggled to teach. I love doing it and actually wanted to be an author growing up (still do), but it's SO scary to teach. Plus, when I was in 4th grade and we didn't have a writing SOL, it was one of the first things that I cut ::hangs head in shame:: because of time. Now that I'm the reading specialist, I don't get as much of a chance to do writing. HOWEVER, I now work with 5th grade students who DO have a writing SOL, and it's coming up quickly. Eeek!! So I have been working writing practice in to help them get there, especially since we've lost a lot of days because of snow.

Long story short, I want to share a quick little tip that I will be going more in depth with next week, so stay tuned! We had this FABULOUS speaker, Fred Wolff, come to our school over the summer and again last week to share some great ideas and lessons for Six Traits Writing that we just implemented in our school. When he came last week, he actually taught a lesson in each grade level, and the teachers observed the lessons. I got to see the 5th grade lesson on sentence fluency, and it was FANTASTIC! So simple, but the students were engaged the entire time.

Like I said, though, I will share more next week. Today I want to give my quick tip. Fred read one page from Harris and Me (the scene with the pancakes, if you're familiar with the book).

Students just listened the first time. It's a GREAT excerpt to teach "exploding the moment" as well, and he did that with us over the summer. It made me want to read the book (but I haven't had a chance yet). Anyway, after we heard it once, he read it again and had us stop him after the first word in each sentence. One student wrote them on the board. We discussed how his beginnings were varied and circled some words that students didn't usually use for beginnings (with, in, etc). Then he gave the kids 5 "power" words to start sentences. I don't remember them exactly, but these are the five that I've been using with my kids:

He suggested as young as 1st grade having a "When Week", where students create tons of sentences starting with "when". Then go through each word doing the same thing. Already, I've noticed that my students are beginning to think outside of the box instead of starting every sentence with "I" or "The"!

What's your writing tip?


  1. I would've loved to have witnessed those lessons being taught. It's so funny that you mentioned this book. This title came up at my 5th grade team meeting today. One teacher loves to read this aloud and the other one said no way, no how would she read it. Now I'm dying to read it!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  2. Thanks Melissa for a new book (love Gary Paulsen and I don't know this one!) and the writing tip! I wish I had these power starters for writing last week! We took our big test Tuesday...stressful right? I always feel I need another week no matter what I do! I can't wait to read more next week!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  3. ABSOLUTELY - my favorite book - you would have to decide for yourself about how your class would react to the story. There are so many life lessons in there too! FUNNY STUFF! I teach first so there is NO WAY - When I taught middle school I had a lower kiddo that I had read this and it totally turned him on to reading...

  4. I have never heard of this title. Now I feel like I must read it and see where I stand. ha! Thanks for sharing. Following you! :)
    Come Visit Readbox!

  5. What a great way to introduce new ways to start sentences! I love it!

    I, too, don't enjoy teaching writing, but I do try to incorporate it whenever I can. I have been working in the second and third grade classrooms as a push-in during writing. I am enjoying the writing the kids are doing, but I am glad I don't have to do the actual teaching.

    Reading Toward the Stars

  6. This is such a great idea! I could totally see having something like a "when" week- and now I need this book. :-P And thank you for the sweet compliment! I'm honored to be a "go-to" person! :-) :-)

  7. Wonderful lesson idea! Definitely going to implement this and check out that book too!

    Thanks for sharing!
    Teaching Tales Along the Yellow Brick Road