Friday, August 22, 2014

What Friday {Writing: Free Item Included}

It's no secret that I love to teach writing. Growing up I didn't have a particular fascination with writing, and my love of teaching it didn't come from being a great writer. My love for the subject actually happened one year ago to be exact.

Last August I was searching for the best ways to teach writing. It was my second year as a 2nd grade teacher and I wanted my instruction, as well as student achievement and confident to improve in writing.

I'd like to share a few of the pieces of writing instruction that 
have helped me become a better teacher & how my students have achieved higher levels of success because of my new found instructional techniques.
Use Mentor Text 
A mentor text is a book which teachers use to illustrate a certain skill & can be used in any subject as long as the teacher chooses the right text. For example, I use Duck Rabbit as an introduction to illustrate point of view.

                                                         A staple of mine is Hello Literacy's

Teach the Beginning, Middle, & End Separately
It's really important to teach students how to construct a piece of writing step by step. When planning, I first look to see which type of writing I will be teaching that week.

Each day I use a separate piece of large anchor chart paper to model how to write the beginning, middle, or ending stage. After I model one of the stages, I then release the students to write their own B, M, or E. 

Here's an example of a weekly writing lesson guide

Hold Student-Teacher Writing Conferences Weekly
Is this easy? No! Who said teaching {or meeting with all of your students one by one} is easy?

The days of just walking around the classroom checking in with students is O.V.E.R! I hold weekly writing conferences with students individually for 3 important reasons

1. I need to know where students are so that I can use that piece of assessment in my individualized planning.
2. Meeting with students one by one allows me to give the necessary feedback to each student.
3. Sitting with my students individually shows them that I value them and encourages them to become better writers.
I use this kind of anecdotal folder system to keep track of student progress & the feedback I give to students.

Explicitly Teach Editing 
I've learned that handing a student an editing checklist
 is not teaching them how to edit. 
I start off the year by making an editing anchor chart and teaching the students how to use the marks {this may take a few minutes everyday as you start your writer's workshop for a few weeks}

When students are comfortable using the editing marks, 
they can edit their own pieces of writing. I make this a requirement once I know that students are familiar enough with editing marks.

Allow Time for The Buddy Writing System
1. Allow students to read their writing to each other to build a sense of classroom community, engage in extra reading practice, &  to hold peer writing conferences.
2. When students are ready, require them to read over a peer's writing and add editing marks or hold a peer-peer conference to discuss both weaknesses AND strengths of their peers writing.

Teaching students to be the right kind of critic is essential and meaningful for everyone {even you}!

Allow Students to Publish Their Work 
{on the computer if possible}

As you saw in my schedule, I leave a day to have students publish their work on the computer. This schedule has to be flexible because all students many not be ready to publish. 

Students (even in Kindergarten) love typing on the computer! In second grade I have seen that students are capable of typing an entire piece of writing. Be patient with them and try to make it easy on yourself! 
I have a system like this where student log-in cards 
are ready for them to access 
{this allows them to work independently during the log-in process}.

I want my students to write as often as possible. This is why I created monthly writing prompts which provide a daily question for students to respond to in writing. 

You can grab my First Week of School Writing Prompts here:
 My monthly writing prompts & bundle pack are also available here.

I'd like to end on a belief of mine which has helped me to continue my ongoing personal professional writing development. It's all for the love of the subject & my students.


  1. I always struggled with teaching writing. This is a perfect way to help students become better writers!

    Thanks for the ideas!

    Reading Toward the Stars

  2. Thanks for the great ideas and the freebie. I haven't done much with mentor texts, but it is such a great way to introduce techniques. Thanks again! Have a great year.
    Laughter and Consistency

  3. Thanks for sharing - I also love to teach writing - In our school we use "glow and grow" for peer conferencing - the kids really like it.

  4. Thanks for sharing these great ideas. I also wrote my blog post on writing. I am a quote fanatic and love the quote at the end of your post.


  5. I love the ideas! Thank you so much for sharing in such a concise and informative way. It was a wonderful post!
    Differentiation Station Creations