Saturday, November 5

Ideas - The HEART of Writing

My firsties have SO much fun writing personal narratives during Writer's Workshop. In order to help my writers see themselves as writers that see stories everywhere in their lives, I invest extra time in building their mindset around choosing topics to write about. Writers Workshop is one of my favorite things to teach and I sharing teaching tips for teaching writing.

While launching writers workshop and throughout the school year, it helps all children to view their lives from a writers lens. This is true for writing personal narratives, poetry, friendly letters, and any unit of study for writing. For some writers this takes longer, so it's important to keep marinating in idea building all year long.

We build writing ideas in many ways in my first grade classroom, mostly in these ways. 

  • Orally tell the beginning, middle and end of stories about what has happened in our lives that very day (such as recess, lunch time, gym class, a fire drill, or waking up that morning), as well as in the past (such as a place they've been to and loved, a time they got hurt, the first time they did something that was hard, a time they've been afraid, etc). 
  • I post the front side of our Writer's Details chart on the big tv and we refer to it to ask questions about each others' orally shared stories. Questions like, "Who was with you?" and "When did this happen?" and "How did you feel?" and "What did you decide?"

Once your writers are ORALLY primed to tell stories, picking up a pencil and writing them down is SO.MUCH.EASIER. Especially if you've normalized how to sound stretch unknown words and using tools for checking sight words, letter formation or including more details. Once a writer can make a really good movie in their mind about a time they did something or something happened to them - where they can picture the beginning, the middle and the end - picking up the pencil and writing their personal narratives should feel easy, not hard.

When writing feels easy and their approximations are celebrated and honored, your writers want to do more and more! This leads to a higher volume of writing, which builds automaticity, writing skills and FUN.

It's even EASIER when you observe your writers writing and see what is slowing them might be fear of spelling a word wrong or how a letter looks or spending time deciding what word should come next or not knowing letter sounds automatically. 

Once you diagnose the reason(s) why various writers are stuck and why they aren't producing/finishing work during the time you're giving them, you can teach whole and small group strategy lessons around those areas.

Can you tell I'm passionate about teaching writing? I love, love, love it!

In case you're interested in working on building ideas in your writers, my Personal Narrative Writing pack is a great start! It's predictable, kid and teacher friendly, and can be used on its own or as a supplement to your writing program. It includes the Writers' Details chart mentioned above, so do NOT buy that separately.
Happy Writing! 


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