Today, I thought I would share with you my secret to success when it comes to writing. Are you ready? Ok...here it goes.
We write every day.
Yep, that is it. We write. All the time. Every day. Even for homework. The kids are constantly writing and formulating their thoughts coherently and with purpose. Did you fall out of your chair at that secret revelation? I thought not. It really isn't a secret at all. I read somewhere that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. Writing is no different. If we don't give the kids the chance to write, and do it properly, they just won't get better. It is that simple.
So how does my daily writing look?
Well, it changes all the time. Some days the kids are writing paragraphs. Some days they are learning minilessons to make their writing more clear and concise. Other days, the kids are planning for an essay. It all changes each day depending upon the objects. What doesn't change though is that the kids are writing.
Paragraph of the Week. I begin with it on day one of school. I begin to teach my students how to properly construct a paragraph, with a topic sentence, the body, and the conclusion. The kids write informational, opinion, and personal narratives this way. Daily I teach the kids how to formulate a properly structured paragraph.
Essay of the Month to get the kids very familiar with the process of writing essays. Basically, Essay of the Month takes what they were learning in Paragraph of the Week and expands it. They use the same structure, only make introduction paragraphs instead of topic sentences. Each of the detail/explanation pairs become paragraphs now. The concluding paragraph comes from what once was the concluding sentence.
While they are writing essays in class, the kids are still practicing their paragraph writing at home. They continue with the Paragraph of the Week so that their paragraph skills stay fresh.
Fictional Narrative POW. The kids are really good at writing a nice, structured paragraph, but writing fictional narratives are slightly different. Not totally different, but different enough that the kids need further exposure. I send this home for homework, as well as work on it during class....all while the kids are STILL practicing essay writing in class.
The rest of the year is interlaced with various writing projects but what doesn't go away are the POW and EOTM. Keeping the kids focused on this structure throughout the entire year enables them to become confident writers. They transfer the skills automatically to every writing piece that we do, whether it be answering a short answer on a reading test, writing a response to literature, or writing about science or social studies topics. The structure stays with them and helps them to create clear, concise, coherent paragraphs and essays on just about anything they are being asked to write about. It truly is the best thing I have ever done in my class to help create writers.
How do you run your writing program in your room?