Monday, February 27, 2012

Writing Workshop Revisions

I have been using a couple different elements to plan for writing.  First being our road map that dictates the order in which I present the material.  Second,  Lucy Calkins' Units of Study for Primary Writing and lastly items that I see or create. 

I still felt something was lacking.  Our curriculum doesn't always make sense to me {so much to do, so little time to actually write} and while I love Lucy Calkins and the Units of Study, I find that they are drawn out and don't have the depth I'm looking for.  They are a great base and it really teaches you the language to use with your students.  I especially like her format: Connection, Teach, Active Engagement, Link.  I use her lessons when they fit into what we are doing.

So I started questioning and reading.  In our literacy team we are reading To Understand by Ellin Oliver Keene.  Now I didn't read expecting to find what I did....I just came upon it and knew it was something worth trying.  Ellin's book is not an easy, breezy read.  It's rather heavy, so tread lightly!  She has reworked the literacy workshop and used new terminology {to reshape to address the misinterpretations and rather unimaginative use of the literacy workshop}.

Crafting- shared reading and writing or large-group instruction
Composing- independent reading and writing
Invitational Groups- small groups or guided reading and writing
Reflecting- sharing

Now I'm not sure that I need to change the names of what seems to be a common thread at our school from kindergarten till fifth.  That's something to give a lot of thought to. 

The information that really stuck with me was during the section about Crafting: Writing:
In a large group, the teacher is writing aloud, thinking aloud about the decisions a writer makes, the strategies and tools he/she uses at least three times a week. It is the students' time to study the craft of writing, to view themselves as apprentice. Students are involved in sharing their observations or in sharing their thinking with a partner. Last 10-20 minutes three to five times a week.

The difference I saw here that I hadn't read before was that you are modeling frequently...its not shared.  You teach your mini-lesson through your own writing and the students are thinking and observing. Don't get me wrong, I have modeled before but not like this.  It's short, sweet and frequent!

So I tried this out...a couple days modeling and the other days for explicit minilessons {Lucy Calkins style}.  Oh my word!  What a change I have seen in my writers.  I never thought something so simple would make all the difference.  It even allows me to follow my curriculum in a more succinct way. 

Give it a try, it's simple and easy.  I hope you will see the impact I have seen.

Here are two forms {planning and writing} to help your little ones with How To writing:


1 comment:

  1. These look very helpful! Thank you for sharing.

    Please pop over to my blog (I've been absent awhile) as I just moved to London and am trying to get back in the swing of blogging again.