Aileen Hower is our guest blogger this week for Goal 10, which is our final section of our book study.
Writing partnerships is a workshop tool to help lessen the "guilt" of not conferring with all writers in one's classroom every day. As Serravallo states, partnerships offer many benefits: "motivation and accountability, critical feedback in times of need, opportunities to get 'unstuck' when we can't figure out on our own what's next, more ideas for our topics, practice teaching or storytelling as oral rehearsal, a critical reader when we need it most, [and] an expert to compensate for our own weak spots" (p. 360). This list comes from Colleen Cruz's The Unstoppable Writing Teacher, which is a great book to help "solve" any writing issue a class or a student is having. Most importantly, writing is more "real" when the writer has a community to support his/her writing endeavors.
Partnerships are not easy. There are personalities, understanding how to give appropriate feedback, and times when we need our writers to be independent. However, there is a time and a place within writing where these collaborative relationships can support and enhance one's writing skills.
I am a fan of oral rehearsal strategies like 10.4 Talk around the Idea, Then Write. They help writers think before they write.
I love the concrete nature of some of the strategies - how they offer writers specific aspects of writing to look for, or give writers actual things to say during the partnership. What did you like best? How do you see partnerships working in your classroom to help writing time flow more smoothly?
Christine Hartzman is a repeat guest blogger for our book study on the The Writing Strategies. This week's goal continues to focus on the conventions of writing, but more specifically on grammar and punctuation. Christine will be heading to Teachers College the last week of June for the Advanced Reading Institute. Thanks for guest hosting, Christine!
The rhythm of the prepositions being repeated twenty three times around the classroom while the teacher stands in the front writing checks in her gradebook with a serious look on her face.
About, above, across, after, against, among, around, at…
Jennifer Serravallo begins Goal 9 by asking readers to recall how their teachers taught grammar to them. I was quick to flashback to seventh grade where Sister Mary A taught us to memorize, to memorize, and to memorize some more parts of the English language. In addition to the memorization technique, I had the pleasure of completing countless worksheets, diagramming many sentences, and labeling parts of speech to learn as Serravallo stated, “The Rules”.
Currently, in my role as an instructional coach, I have experienced many classrooms in a variety of grade levels and in a variety of content areas. Conventions - grammar and punctuation - are typically the areas where students tend to have weaknesses and where teachers are in need of practical and timely tools to support their students. Once again, Serravallo provides a remedy with strategies that are an “invitation to play” rather than “to fix” mistakes.
Here are two strategies that I want to share and to teach as writing tools for students at the start of the year:
9.16 Paragraph Starters
Students analyze the beginning line of each paragraph in their writing. Then, students determine if they need to connect ideas, to transition in time, or to set up a topic or a subtopic. Need support? Students can look at paragraph beginnings in their independent reading books for paragraph starter ideas. Also, teachers can create an anchor chart of sample starters as a scaffold for students.
9.17 Read Your Draft Aloud, and Listen
The student reads the draft aloud and listens to how it sounds. By reading aloud and listening, students can focus on sentence length, punctuation placement, and tone. This is a simple, a quick, and an easy strategy for students to use all year long.
Which strategies will you invite your students to play with next year? How can you change the mindset of your students “to play” rather than “to fix”?
This week's guest blogger is back to our first blogger, Michael Williams. Michael teaches 2nd grade in the Central Dauphin School District. He is also the past president of Keystone State Reading Association and Capital Reading Council.
When we were dividing out the goals for people to blog about I didn't realize that I would get one of the goals that is my favorite part of writing...spelling! Now, that goal just doesn't focus on spelling, but rather all the conventions of writing. The goal has strategies for letter spacing, apostrophes, plural words, and homophones. Regardless, I love all that makes up the conventions of writing and I find myself being overly picky with my students about spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
Many of the strategies in this goal teachers have been using forever, but may just be called a different name. For example, "Talk like a Turtle" strategy is the same as stretching out a word to hear the sounds in order to help spell the word. I often encourage my students to "spell the best you can" and then come back to check the word. This is common practice among many teachers (I think) is outlined is the strategy "Spell as Best You Can-on the First Go."
However, I did find some new, exciting strategies to add to my toolbox to assist my students in their revising and editing process. I absolutely love 8.10 "Use Your Resources to Spell." It helps to remind students that they have resources to use and MUST use them when writing. I feel as though I want to tape the anchor chart poster on my students' desks, writers' notebooks, my classroom wall, basically EVERYWHERE! I also was interested by 8.12 "Chin Drops" since multiple syllabic words usually give kids problems. This strategy has the writer count the number of syllables in a word by placing their hand underneath their chin while they say the word normally. I found myself trying this one out and it was pretty cool to use.
Not too many new, earth shattering strategies in this goal, but good reminders and visuals to go along with what we are already using. What are some of your favorite strategies to help your students with the conventions of writing?
Hope everyone has begun summer break! Great time to catch up on the blog! That's what I plan to do!
Miranda Aaron is our guest blogger this week for our book study on The Writing Strategies. She is finishing her first year as a Literacy Coach in the Carlisle Area School District. Prior to being a coach, she was a second grade teacher in Carlisle and Tulsa, Oklahoma for 3 years.
A writer’s word choice helps to define their style and the share their voice. However, this is often one component of writing that I find myself skipping over. As a 2nd grade teacher, my focus with students was on developing basic sentence and story structure and the fluency to write more and more. Even as students move through the grades and build basic writing skills, the focus often transitions to responding the text, writing 5 paragraph essays, and more. As a teacher I always struggled to transition the focus of students’ writing to style. Serravallo provides many straightforward strategies for all writers to improve word choice.
An approach to improving word choice is clueing students into parts of speech. Serravallo states, “Clueing children in to how sentences are structured and the ‘jobs’ that words have within a sentence will help them to make wiser choices when it comes to word-level revisions.” 7.3 Precise Nouns, 7.5 Verbs That Match the Meaning, 7.20 Choose Your Pronouns, and other strategies make word choice a simple process. I see students responding well to being given specific words to look for and then evaluate to improve their writing. This is also a much more meaningful way to work on grammar concepts within a writing project, rather than isolated sentences.
Another strategy that stood out to me was 7.7 Alphabox. This strategy can be used throughout the Writing Process as students develop a pool of words related to the topic that can be used during writing. This could easily be done by individual students or as a whole group reference.
Have you students and you made the transition from moving beyond just the content of writing to focusing on style and word choice? What strategies stood out to you as ones you’d like to try or may find the most useful?