This week’s post is written by Aileen Hower. Aileen is a member of the South Central Reading Council, is Vice President of KSRA, where she is also the social media coordinator, and the K-12 Literacy/ESL Supervisor for South Western School District. Additionally, she teaches graduate level reading courses for Cabrini University.
In thinking about providing writers voice and choice, to promote engagement in writing, some teachers wonder how to teach organization and structure, which are more formulaic, with less student choice. This is why I appreciate Serravallo’s reminder to “Think of organization and structure as the bones of the piece, or the framing of a building. Without bones, your body is a blog. Without a frame, the building collapses. A writer may have the ability to pick a topic and add in lots of details, but if the frame isn’t there, if the piece isn’t organized, the reader will become confused” (p. 162). Serravallo shared that strategies in this section will help writers match genre and meaning to the structure within which they write.
Also important to address, Serravallo makes sure to offer strategies for how to help students write bold beginnings, mighty middles, and endings that tug at the heart. She shares, “organization and structure is about more than just planning for the overall piece, it also… help[s] writers strengthen the parts of their piece” (p. 162).
I love the progression charts on pp. 163-165 that help teachers know when certain skills can be taught and what comes next.
I was really drawn to all strategies that included oral rehearsal or drawing as a step toward staying organized in one’s writing (5.2, 5.11, 5.23, 5.29). I appreciate letting the writer practice in speaking or drawing before writing words on the page.
I have taught 5.18 Start with a Plan in Mind with third graders. What a powerful way to show writers that not all organizational structures work with all topics!
These are just two types of strategies from this section that I appreciated. Which strategies stood out to you? Which ones were your writers most in need of this school year?