Look at me two days in a row with posts that have the day of the week in them and alliteration. I have blogged several times this year about how writing is not my strongest area of teaching. I am working on it this year though and I think blogging about it will help me. If you haven't check out Tammy at Forever in First you should. She has these posts on Saturdays called Saturday Sayings. A lot of them have to do with writing. They give me a lot to think about and inspire me to continue to work on my writing instruction. If you click on her blog title it will take you to this past Saturdays saying post. Tammy is a great bloggy friend. I can always count on a comment of encouragement from her on my blog. Thanks friend!
So as part of my journey to becoming a better writing teacher, here's what we've been doing lately.
I think Daily 5 has helped me to be more intentional with my writing time. I'm not implementing Daily 5 with all the choice that the sisters recommend. We've been working on the same choice at the same time and I try to give choice within the block of time. This is just what is working for me. One of the best parts of having this routine established is that my kids can have time to work on their writing even when I have a sub. I had a sub last week and they were able to continue to work on their writing. I have the greatest assistant and she knows our routines so it helps. She was able to give students the materials they need. As I'm typing this, I realize that I'm keeping control over the materials and should probably work on giving up some of that control. That will be a goal for the week. So far we've been working on narrative pieces. I have some students who do really well with these. They brainstorm and sketch out their ideas and then I give them a book to work on the actually writing. We check in at the beginning and end of each session which I really like. This gives me a chance to see what they are working on and they get use to talking about their writing as a craft. I can also make plans for who wants to share the next day and who I need to meet with. My minilessons are still in need of work. I make these plans and then I don't seem to follow through. I think I need some better resources for mentor texts for teaching about different elements of writing. I would love to hear what you use. My kids that seem to be struggling with sketching out an idea for a story and then turning that into a book are using a sheet that I got from Crystal at Kreative in Kinder. She is a writing workshop guru. The sheet I've been using has three boxes marked beginning, middle and end. It is helping some of kids that need a little more structure.
This week we're starting to work on informational writing. My kids love to read non fiction and they especially love to read books about animals. Our reading series last week and the next week are all about animals, so I'm going to use this opportunity to talk about non fiction writing. I really want them to have choice in their writing so they can make it their own. I'm modeling and using texts about Bats this week to try to get them thinking about non fiction writing. With the emphasis on the common core, non fiction definitely is getting a larger role in my class.
Monday we brainstormed a list of different non fiction topics. They were mostly animals except for the one student who named our PE teacher. Tuesday we picked a topic. I showed them how to make their own bubble map of facts that they knew about the animal. Some of them came up with some really good facts. Then some had to be debunked. One of the boys thought that alligators lived in the sewer. Today I gave them a book about the animal that they had chosen so they could add to their bubble map. My assistant and I have been trying to get them to think about facts rather than opinions or made up facts. Tomorrow I'm going to let them do the writing. This is the most controlled I've been about the order that they are on. But I'm hoping that once we do this together that they will follow this pattern when they want to write non fiction on their own.
What are some good mentor texts to teach about writing? How do you introduce informational writing?