Sunday, September 20, 2015

8 Ways to Incorporate Management Strategies During Writing Instruction

I don’t know what to write!    By this point in the year, you will have prior knowledge of your students’ interests and you may pull from those experiences.

The Class Wanderer: Sometimes we get students who like, or possibly need, to wander around the class.  Through no fault of their own, maybe they get a little antsy.  You may praise, or set up a reward system, with the student when he/she is seated for a period of time.  Another solution is to give the student two seats. He/She must be on his/her way from seat A to seat B, or from seat B to seat A, only.  Giving students wiggle cushions or alternate seating that rocks/wiggles can decrease the amount of time wandering.  The goal is to give students appropriate outlets for a very real problem.

Working standing up:  I have no problem with students who choose to stand during writing time.  If standing works for the student, then it works for me.

Sharing Out/Risk Taking: Give students an opportunity to share out written pieces, or segments from an entry.  Students want others to hear what they write.  They will learn “writerly moves” from each other.  I never put anybody on the spot and this is strictly optional in my class.  Remember…when you take risks by sharing your own written work with students...they will also take risks and share out.

“Is this good?”  Students are never allowed to ask me if their work is good.  I want my students to reach for the stars.  I encourage students to ask questions such as:  “What can I do to make this writing even better than it is now?”  “How can I improve this section?”  “How can I make this narrative more amazing?”
“If better is possible, then good isn’t enough.” -Benjamin Franklin

How do you spell _______?  We practice dictionary skills early in the year.  I want my class to know how to use the dictionary independently.  If students want to know how to spell a word, then they need to use their dictionary or ask a neighbor.  You don’t want students leaving their seat to ask how to spell a word.  Students can also place their hand under their chin.   Every time their jaw drops while saying a word indicates a syllable and vowel. (Ar-i-zon-a) four drops…four syllables…four vowels

I can’t find a pencil!  I always have a group of sharpened pencils in the same spot all year long.  Students exchange their dull pencil for a sharp one.  Also, I have a suggestion for the students who always lose their pencils.  Tie one end of a string to the bottom side of the desk and the opposite end to the eraser tip of a pencil.  The pencil will always be waiting for use.

I’m done:  "When you are done, then you have just begun."  A student said that one-day and I loved the idea.  I don’t know where she heard this, but it was genius.  Students have to go back and self-regulate, edit, revise, or make any other changes to their writing when they “think” they are done.

Unlocking imaginations one lesson at a time!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

7 Tips to Organize Writing Resources

I recently received a question from Katie in California: How do you organize your writing resources, so students can easily access them? 

Katie, this is a great question and asked quite regularly. 

# 1 Class Synonym Word Wall
I select eight words my students use on a consistent basis. I boldface the word I no longer want students to use and I write five or six synonyms below that term.  I’ll post kind, nice, boring, funny, great, sad, thankful, and walked.  Students are not allowed to use the bolded word. I want to raise the bar and challenge them to expand their vocabulary.  Sheets are posted at the front of the class.

# 2 Double Pocket Writing Folders
Students are given a four pocket writing folder.  The folder stores important documents and students reference this information routinely throughout the year. Folders are created by attaching two double pocket-writing folders together.  Turn one folder inside out and attach it to the brads of the other folder.  See pictures below for details.  Click the links below for free labels for the double pocket writing folder.

Author at work- Cover label
My writing ideas label
Work in progress label
Ready for the author's chair label

# 3 Commonly Misspelled Words
I place an enlarged poster of commonly misspelled words at the front of the room. 

# 4 Reference Materials on Desks
 Students have a dictionary, atlas, and thesaurus on their desks at all times.  Each desk seats two students.  They work together by sharing these valuable resources and researching information collaboratively.

# 5 Mini-Offices
I display main writing concepts, which will enhance student writing, on folders, in a color-coded manner. Students will have instant access to figurative language, compare and contrast words, transitional phrases, descriptive terms, show me examples, parts of speech, writing time rules, and exemplary writing samples. Students open their mini-offices during writing time and have an abundance of references to view within an arm’s reach.

# 6 Writing Notebooks
Every student should keep his/her writing in one notebook.  Rough drafts, brainstorms, and quick writes are all stored in the notebook. This will reduce missing papers along their writing journey. Final copies are completed on white lined paper.

# 7 Books
Books are one of the most amazing mentor texts available.  Students must have at least one chapter/reading book at their seat at all times. They benefit from the ability to read when assignments are completed.  Students choose which book(s) they want at their desks.

Unlocking imaginations one lesson at a time!

Please send any questions or concerns my way.  I’d love to hear from you.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Free Newsletter

I wanted to let you know I have an educational website that is up and running.  In addition, I am offering weekly writing tips, lessons, strategies, and useful resources in my free weekly newsletter.  Please stop by and give my website a look.  As always, I appreciate your support!

Thank you!