Please welcome Christine Hartzman as our guest host this week! Christine works as an Instructional Coach in the Boyertown Area School District.
Stop, Elaborate, and Listen!
How many times have you said to a student, “add more details”, and the student responds with a string of adjectives in the writing piece? Think about it... did you show your students how to add those details or did you provide a model for students to emulate in their work? In Goal 6, Serravallo shares and explains multiple ways of adding details and improving the quality of details to a student’s writing piece. The fantastic part about Goal 6 is the amount and the variety of strategies that Jen Serravallo shares in this section. No matter what the piece or grade level, there are multiple strategies for your students to try! Some of my highlights or “must try” strategies are as follows:
6.5 “Nudge” Paper
Keep post-its or scrap paper handy for this one! This strategy allows students to try something in a writing piece, but here is the catch - students don’t need to keep it. Whether it be in the writing notebook or in a writing station, students can try a new idea on a separate piece of paper and decide later if the idea should stay or go. Kids need to know and to learn that some ideas can be abandoned while others are “on target.”
Bonus: This strategy works with any type of writing.
6.11 Take Notes from an Illustration or a Photo
If you are trying to figure out how to connect text features and writing, this strategy is for you. Using a photograph or illustration, students can jot quick notes - words or short phrases about what is being learned from the image. Then, students can use the idea in a writing piece to further explain a specific topic.
Bonus: Students are using close reading skills by analyzing the image portion by portion. In addition, this strategy can be used with any genre and with any grade level.
6.24 Use a Refrain
Do your students have a “go to” line in a piece of writing? A line that is repeated over and over again. In this strategy, students look for a line or lines that can be repeated in multiple places in the piece. What I like about this strategy is that the students need to reflect and to question themselves as writers. Questions like, “Does the refrain make my piece better?” , “What meaning does the line communicate?”, and “What can I add on?”, will assist students in making impactful and effective decisions about their writing.
Bonus: This strategy can be utilized with narrative writing, persuasive writing and POETRY!
No matter what the goal or strategy may be, keep in mind to start small -try one or two strategies and then add more to your toolbox. You will feel less stressed and less overwhelmed about knowing everything from Serravallo’s book and your students will respond in the same way in their writing.
Think back to a time when you said, “Add more details!” Which strategy from Goal 6 could you have shared with your student or students? How would that strategy impact their writing pieces?