Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Writing Mini-Lessons Continued

Writing is such a rich subject to teach.  There are layers upon layers of content, skills, and strategies.  Besides teaching students about the 6 Traits and how they help us identify a strong piece of writing, I am also teaching students about the writing process.  This is woven through the lessons in a cyclical fashion because that is truly what the writing process is- a cycle.

I don't really think it is of paramount importance that young writers can NAME the writing process.  I do want them to understand that writer's move back and forth and in and out of the process though.  I like to show the students using my own writings.  I let them see  how I brainstorm and add to my idea lists.  I choose a topic and start on a piece.  I may or may not finish that piece right away.  I usually have several pieces of writing going at the same time.  One day I revise an old piece.  The next day I might start a new piece.  That's the great thing about writing!  It's not a linear process, so I can move about depending on my thoughts, ideas, and moods.  I use the language of brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing as I model each of these. (I write often with my students.)

Just as the writing process is integrated into our mini-lessons, I also teach students about writing genres.  When we begin the year, we focus mainly on personal narratives.  I like to start the year with this genre because all students have a story to tell.  Every student can be successful writing a personal narrative. We start by doing lots of oral sharing.  If a student can't tell the story, they certainly can't write it down. We learn about small moments and how to narrow our topic.  Again, I model, model, model this!

We focus on writing personal narratives for the first month or two.  Then we move on to informational writing.  My second graders love to read non-fiction books, especially about animals.  Our reading leads us into writing about animals.  One project we do each year is a collaborative report on animals.  I will share that in another post though.  We also write reports on famous Americans.

We also work on opinion writing during the year.  Though we focus on one genre for a portion of the year, that doesn't mean that students can only write in those genres while we are learning about them.  I strongly believe in choice during writer's workshop, so students are often writing many different  pieces.  In addition to personal narratives, informational, and opinion writing, we also focus on poetry.  Although it's not the focus of second grade writing in the Common Core, I think it is valuable to teach students about poetry.

When I stop and think about all of the things that we teach writers to do, it's a bit mind boggling!  It's such a complex process, yet it's so exciting to teach.  I continue to learn more and more about teaching writing, but there are a few things that have become foundational in my writer's workshop.  Always model everything!  Use a variety of models throughout the process.  Provide many experiences with mentor texts.  Let the students see you write and share your mistakes and triumphs.  Use lots of student writing , both past and present.  It's so powerful when you use a child's writing to point out something great a writer does.  And most importantly, LET THEM SHARE!!

Thanks for letting me share with you!


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