Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Day 1 & 2 notes from Natalie, a fourth grade NYC teacher Yeah! Sharing! August 14, 2009

Filed under: Calkins,TCRWP,writing workshop — bestbookihavenotread @ 1:01 am
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Writer’s Workshop– Day 1 what teachers explain when describing writers workshop.

10 Minute Mini-Lesson– showing your own writing (teacher writer)

25-30 minute independent writing (you work and talk and i listen…) during this time you have to be ready to talk to me about your writing…called a writing conference) Have a small group to work with other writers

5-10 minute partner time to write/share out

Talking about writing….only get better is by doing it (better to give students time to write)

“The more students write the better they get”

Outside of school/HW options: decide how many entries/small moments stories they need to do for the week, assign 10 minutes of writing a night, # minutes/# of pages

Essential that our lives are worth writing about– personal narrative/memoir at beginning of the year…important that students realize that their lives matter.

Writing is a craft and writers need time choice and response/feedback

Writing is about risk/empathy– be revealing

Model risks within your own lessons and share your own writing

Work on telling stories that can be shared in the classroom…

Model writing for that age group— recuperate childhood stories

Getting started: what do you want to do across the year?

Spiral Curriculum within grades:

K- we’re all writers using pictures and words/publish new stories every day

1- we write for readers/ think about punctuation and introduce genres of writing

2- revising but don’t ask them to rewrite pieces and make smart paper choices

3- use notebooks to collect and rehearse their writing

4- increasing craft and increasing independence within genre

5-  increasing craft and increasing independence across genres

writing unit starts with: collecting/generating notebook entries across the week and then we choose 1 or 2 ideas to draft outside of the notebook and then significant revision/elaboration takes place (this would be about a week each task) and then finally getting ready to publish final story.

#1–Start with a personal narrative/memoir/anecdote or a vignette important that it is a small moment

#2– Fiction- realistic fiction

#3– Personal Essay– thesis driven writing/idea based writing– figure out ideas they care deeply about and then tell stories about those ideas

#4– Nonfiction all about or expert subjects or content areas (science and social studies)

#5– Fiction- mystery, fantasy, historical fiction

#6– Poetry– can do a lot of grammar within poetry

Personal Narrative: start with prompts

strategy leads towards independence within writing…

Generating Strategies:

Moments of Strong Emotions (scared, stressed, happy…) and small moments

make a 2-column list of the emotions and the moment

and model how to brainstorm emotions and small moments

Partners Say…(Chart that could be around the room):

“I love that story!”

“That reminds me of…”

“You should write that down…”

(**Want partner to want to leave conference and write more…)

2nd Generating Strategy: 3-column List– start with the part of the list you feel most comfortable with

issues                   people                      moments

friendship              Lisa                         good/bad moments– dirt brownies

betrayal                Patty                         mascara all over the face

jealousy               Chris

loyalty                  Lisa                            stapled our fingers together

pain                                                       hairbrush

peer pressure        Mandy/Rachel            first activity night and what to wear

new school            5th grade                  not understanding slang at school in new state

3rd Strategy: Make a picture map of where stories have taken place and actually draw/label different parts of moments/stories, etc.

Writing Starters:




Use one of the above to start writing…

The blacktop sparkled and the sun beat down on us as we sat making grass friendship bracelets. Mandy and Rachel whispered back and forth as I tried desperately to fit in with my new classmates.

“Wear a skirt? Are you kidding me?” Mandy said laughing. Embarrassed and blushing, I tried to laugh off the fact that I thought I had asked a normal question.


-Meeting Area– make it large enough for everyone to fit there

-Desk spaces for collaboration and independence

-Bulletin Board space- organized by subject area around the room

-Classroom Libraries– around the meeting area/provide easy access to books

-Idea for using Strunk & White for teaching certain grammar ideas/skills

-Charts– way to make kids independent…think about being organized by box and by bullets

Generating Possibilities:

Sketch a place

label possible story ideas

choose one

make a mental movie

write step by step

-Scene writing so readers are right there with us…for the personal narrative

-Ralph Peterson Life In A Crowded Place about classroom management

-Do Now setting students up to next lesson of the day/setting students up

-Finish an entry, if you are writing you are doing fine during writing workshop/ reread writing/ draft something new/ read a mentor text if stuck

Unit 1: Getting Started

Launched notebooks

Learned how to be in a mini-lesson (learning strategy)

2-3 generating strategies

Rehearse stories by telling them

Be a responsive and enthusiastic partner

Make a writing plan

Write fast and furious in small moments

Notebook entry means a small moment zoomed in on that a student has written.

During the lesson what should students being done? Not suggested for students to write down all of the notes during teacher’s lesson or post things on chart paper so they can view it and not get tired from all the writing during a lesson copying notes.

Work on a sample notebook to share with students at the beginning of the year

Perhaps show 2 or 3 column lists, notebook entries, sketches

Teachers Notebook is a strategic teaching tool for modeling student issues show a bed-to-bed story, dialogue entry, etc. to show students that your writing is just a bit ahead of them so it can pull students out of their writing habits and start to grow towards stronger writing.

What paper/kind of notebooks should students use?

Types of paper– one choice is a paper with a box and a couple of lines below the box– students draw a picture and then label things useful for when you still need to sketch to tell a story.

Another choice is a smaller picture box followed by more lines

By fourth grade you should be able to choose cursive or print and decide which students are more comfortable with

Encourage choice among writers, so they feel more independent and excited to write

Break the story into a beginning, middle, and end into three sections but using three blank blocks

this helps students see/identify the tension of the story

Have students label and express feelings thoughts in the box for each section of the story because they tend to add more details to the box/sketch and then can add this into the story

Giving someone a tour of the notebook

Students can leave the rug once they know what they are going to write about

Students come out of the notebook when doing the rough draft on loose paper

Maintain notebooks by writing at night and keep up with free writing– could finish an entry you didn’t start yet, back through lists and write a new entry, and then also think of a new idea and write about that

Walk a partner through the notebook and give a tour– what you liked, what you didn’t like, what you skipped, generating strategies you feel worked for you– this could happen after week 2 when there is enough writing to share.

Making sure we teach students to talk like writers…important steps: like point to the page in the notebook

Make sure the teacher notebook has list of seed ideas and are not written about, also include entries that are you not completely done, and a night where partner didnt do hw to show what that looks like– so the teacher is having the same problems the students have

Students could observe teacher notebook and identify issues/problems etc so students can identify things together

After tour: what strategies we’re using and like?

what stories we’ve written

what’s unwritten/next

what’s unfinished

anything we might want to publish

After a tour, students can make a writing plan for next week: To do: finish ? story, start ? story, try new idea, etc.

Before launching into new unit, good to have a quick independent publishing when they are done to finish a story they hadn’t finished yet

Editing/Writing Conferences:

No editing done by teachers– teach students how they would fix it instead of making corrections for kids

Writing conferences– praising, but also coaching– think about habits

Habits– Intimate conversations

Strategy conferences- i want to teach you something as a writer that can help you, research what they are ready for next, praise/compliment, and teach

Table/Group conference- praise the behavior that you want kids to do

Dialogue, Setting, detail, inner thinking are things that you could discuss during the conference


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