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All is moving forward in my classroom. Math groups are happening. Social Studies is moving forward. Spelling is underway. Reading is progressing. Writing is my big area of focus this year. I want to look back at this year and think that was the year that I really started teaching writing well.
Thankfully, some of our stars are aligned. Our district sets benchmark assessments three times a year in different writing genres. This guides our curriculum in writing for the year. The first genre is Personal Narrative. So, we’re moving forward. Today, I started reading to the kids from Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry. It’s a delightful story about an unusual 2nd grade girl who tells stories about herself. At the same time, we started using our 5 subject notebooks to start this unit of study. We started with what the class in the book learns about writing Personal Narrative which is that they need to have a beginning, middle, and an end. They also are about you and you are the main character. The kids got excited about it.
Along with all that work, we are doing Poetry every Friday. I’ve done that for three years now. It’s a huge success and I’ve gotten a lot more ideas now about how to go on. We started last week with writing Fib poems. I love them — they are quick and easy to write and the kids really enjoy it. One of the sections in our 5 section notebook will be for poetry lessons. We also intend to cover Summary and Response to Literature. I know that’s only 4 sections — maybe I’ll come up with some else for after the last benchmark.
I am gathering books to read for our personal narrative touchstones. I have a few pieces. I’m also gathering resources from around the InterWebs to be get me started. I’ve never been one to feel the need to re-invent the wheel. I’m excited about it. I can sense the kids are excited about it.
I know this year won’t be perfect but I also know it will be better than any previous year has been. Buckle up, class, we’re writing now!
We’re just under a month away from the start of school. Lord, the summer hasn’t been long enough and yet I’m getting excited about the new school year. (Hnh! I sound like a teacher!)
I have the supreme luxury this year of a) knowing the grade level I’ll be teaching in the Fall and b) staying in the same classroom. (It goes hand-in-hand with having a job and not having to job hunt. I think I’ll send my principal a thank you letter! 🙂 ) So, I have spent a certain amount of time (about 1% of what I intended to spend) this summer in organizing my classroom materials. I am also buying things that I need.
One of my big goals this year is to start incorporating some Writers’ Workshop elements into my day. One of the ways I intend to do that is by having meetings for Writing Discussion. To further that goal, I just ordered myself a tool.
I’m really excited about this. I can write notes and outlines on the whiteboard during meeting time. It’s also magnetic so I can just pin up prepared stuff as well. I think it’s going to really help with making the meeting time more useful.
I’ve been inspired by Two Writing Teachers. The way they share information is phenomenal. I do envision doing things differently than they do but I am inspired by their methods, results, and the way they share what works for them. Thank you, Stacey and Ruth!
Stacey has been setting up kits for her students to bring to Writers’ Workshop. She’s so organized. I love what she’s suggesting but know that with my students last year, kits would have been disastrous. I’m going to set up a tub that I bring to WW and the kids can pull what they need from it. I think for my classroom and needs that will work better. Keeping the tub maintained can be one of the classroom jobs. Stacey includes the following in her kits: mechanical pencil, pink eraser, blue pen, red pen, and a post-it pad. So my tub will include the same items plus the dry-erase pens/eraser for my WW whiteboard. I have some old whiteboards that I can let students use as “clipboards” so that they can easily write away from their desks. I really feel like this will add a wonderful element to my writing instruction.
I also plan to incorporate something I observed working well last year. The teacher paired the students up for the year — with a focus on writing skills and personal style — to work together. Students share writing, encourage one another, etcs. I am going to incorporate that into my classroom this year as well.
Lots of changes — I’m trying not to make too many changes at once. I know that I have to learn as I go too. Exciting and scary stuff!
What a week I’m having. No school Monday which was nice but throws me off my stride. Staff meeting today, followed by an afternoon with a sub in the room while I do grade-level meetings, and a New Teacher Project meeting after school. Tomorrow, I’m in all day Step Up To Writing training. Friday, I suppose I’ll just babble mindlessly and hope for the best.
This lesson is a lifesaver in so many ways.
I needed something meaningful to do with the students. We’re focused this week on descriptive writing and we’ll be doing said descriptive writing while I’m out of the room. Bummer too, since today and tomorrow are when I have small groups for writing — my most powerful writing lesson days. I knew I that I could tap into some great writing lessons though. The first one I found was the winner for me. Easy to set up (just stop at the store), easy for someone else to implement, and easy for the students to be successful with.
I’ll post some follow up here about whether or not my big plans actually worked out for the best!
*Graphic from WPClipart