Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Writer's Workshop

Ahhhh....first semester is winding down and the kids are wound up!  I've tried hard to maintain a level of learning with a level of fun.  I'm feeling ready for break, and if I'm not motivated, then I'm sure my students aren't!

So, instead of lesson planning, or working on my National Boards, as I told my husband I was doing when I kissed him and the kids by for the evening, I'm going to blog!  LUCKY YOU!  :)

I've decided to reflect on how my writing has changed this year.  And, it has changed.  In Indiana we've had all kinds of reforms, and one of them that trickled into the classroom this year was creating a personal goal to work on.  Mine was writing.  In fact, my entire team is working on this.

As I started the year, I decided to look at my day differently.   I now do writing first thing in the morning.  That is a change.  It makes me more purposeful in planning writing, and not to let my content time continually takeover my writing time.

A big plus also, was this resource I found online:    The First 30 Days: 5th Grade.
Even if you don't use it verbatim, it's very helpful to get your gears spinning on what you want to do.  For me, just having this as a safety net was a huge help!    My team also used it with success.

Also, I follow Katherine Sokolowski on Twitter.   She has great ideas.  I especially liked her Greatness Writing Activity I found on her Blog - Read, Write, Reflect.

I spent the first nine weeks building my Writer's Workshop.   Since then, we've published three pieces this nine weeks.  I spent several weeks on mini lessons for each one, then rounds of working and editing together.   We've written an editorial, a personal narrative essay, and a free choice writing piece with the goal of varying sentences.  Now, for some of you, this probably doesn't seem like much.  In the past, that was how many published pieces I'd have in a year.  Maybe.

I feel much more confident in my writing instruction.  I've even created rubrics WITH the class which is a big step for me.  I'm finding that it really does help them be more purposeful in their writing, and in turn, I'm more purposeful in my conferencing.   My secret for rubrics:  Print off ones you really like to have as a starting point.  Make sure you've done mini lessons on what you expect of the piece, THEN do the rubric whole group.  They know what you want from your focused mini lessons.  One time I even passed out sample rubrics to the class and asked what should be on our rubric!  Another great fact, it makes it easier to conference with students when I know exactly what I'm wanting them to do!  I keep a copy of the current rubric in the front of my binder for easy reference!

Here I'm meeting with Alex.  I have my conferring notebook out, he's reading his piece to me.  The post-its have 1-4 on it, and it's great for passing back with what they need to work on!
Next quarter I will be focusing on my National Board writings:  One expository piece and one narrative piece.  I've decided to do the expository on writing a literary review and the narrative on writing to a prompt as we prepare for our State Testing at the end of February.

Thanks for visiting my blog!  Feel feel to tweet or write questions in the comments section.  I hope your year has started off great and that you have a joyful holiday break!

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