Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Post That Took 3 Weeks to Write...Trying Out a New Writing Structure


These first few weeks of school have been a whirlwind! I know that every teacher feels that way at the beginning of the year, but this year has been especially hectic for me! If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you may have heard about the unfortunate series of events within the first 3 weeks of school.

Day 1: Toilets flooded
Day 2: Power outage
Day 6: Lock in (A real one. Not a drill. Terrifying.)
Day 12-13: Emergency sub
à My husband’s grandfather passed away early Sunday Morning so we are making an emergency flight out to OKC for the services (9/19). (I started this post from the plane!) And as if having a last minute sub so early in the year wasn’t hectic enough, I am also in a wedding back in OR at the coast on Saturday (9/20). I will have to get wedding photo ready on the flight home. You best believe I will be rocking curlers on the plane.

******************************Okay, breathe******************************

Aside from all of that I am loving my new school and of course my kiddos! I have a few behavior issues (who doesn’t) but overall I have a fabulous class. I have been so impressed with them so far and can’t wait to see how far they go this year!

One of my personal goals this year is to improve my writing instruction. I have a really solid persuasive writing unit that I loooooove to teach, but the rest of my writing plans are unorganized random blah. A colleague of mine is involved in a writing training around the book Projecting Possibilities for Writers by Matt Glover & Mary Alice Berry. They focus on projecting units rather than planning units. The emphasis being on leaving room for adjustments in case things do not go exactly as planned. Which let’s be honest, is often in the classroom!

If you are interested you can get your copy by clicking the image below!

Now that I have read the book I am going to give it a whirl! You can find the planning template here! If you're like me and you like having a digital copy that you can type into, I typed one up on GoogleDrive. Feel free to use it! 

Matt Glover & Mary Alice Berry give a great outline for how planning should go. I was feeling overwhelmed with yet another new thing to try out but luckily there was a template and structure to follow. I am also lucky to have some amazing (and knowledgable) colleagues to help me navigate this new writing structure. Searching for Teacher Balance, I'm talking about you! ;)

Searching for Teacher Balance

Step 1:Decide on and name your unit of study

I don't know about you, but writing is always like pulling teeth in my classroom. Every year my students rush through writing without any motivation or desire. I hear a lot of excuses. But the one that bothers me every. single. time is "I don't know what to write".  How can you not know what to write!? The possibilities are endless! So I am using that as the launching point for my first unit! I want to focus on where writer's get ideas! So that is what my first unit will be called: Where Writer's Get Ideas. No more "I don't know what to write".


Seriously guys, the struggle is real.

Step 2:Collect mentor texts

Now the fun part! Collecting mentor texts! Another colleague of mine showed me this adorable book called Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon about a little boy who struggles with stories to write. This seemed like the perfect place to start! 

I scoured the internet for other books to help my students generate their own ideas during writing time. It wasn't easy. Trying to figure out the best way to word that search took way longer than it should have. So I posted what I was looking for on Facebook and BAM! Thank goodness for social media! 

The books I chose:
1. Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon
2. Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills
3. The Best Story by Eileen Spinelli (not pictured)
4. Little Red Writing by Joan Holub
5. You Can Write a Story by Lisa Bullard

Step 3: Determine primary and secondary goals

I love setting goals! Is that weird!? I love it because it gives me a chance to step back and really think about my purpose. If I don't know my purpose I find that I lack the passion behind what I am teaching. And how can I expect my students to find what I'm teaching to be meaningful if I can't!?

Primary Goals:
1. Students will be able to generate a variety of different ideas independently during writing time.
2. Students will be able to tell a complete story with beginning, middle and end.
3. Students will increase their stamina for writing.

Secondary Goals:
1. Students will be able to convey a feeling in their writing.
2. With support, students will be able to add supporting details to their writing.
3. Students will draw pictures to support their writing.
3. Students will use appropriate capitals and punctuation.

Step 4: Project possible mini lesson topics

This step was really difficult for me probably because the possibilities are endless! It's a little bit intimidating! What helped me was to read through my mentor texts and look for things that could spark an interesting mini lesson. I also thought about the skills that my students are currently lacking.

1. Finding inspiration
2. Making connections (Text to Self)
3. Writing tools (dictionary, word wall)
4. Asking yourself questions
5. Adding details
6. Using your imagination
7. The writing process
8. Creative language
9. Stamina
10. Revision

Looking at other peoples units of study I noticed they tend to have a lot more mini lessons. That does make me a little bit nervous, but I am hoping the phrase "quality over quantity" applies here?

Step 5: Anticipate and prepare for issues

 I don't even know. The thing that keeps coming to mind is differing levels in ability. 

Step 5: Respond and Reflect

Stay tuned! I am starting this tomorrow! EEK!