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?