A Typical Day in Writing…And More

WARNING: LONG POST!

Thank goodness it the weekend!  I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted!  I’m ready for the “beginning of the year craziness” to settle down and my life to feel normal again!  Soon enough…

So…I’ve had quite a few people contact me lately asking about my typical routines for writing.  I actually love it when I get personal emails asking for information about writing.  It makes me know that people care.  It gives me hope that I can spread knowledge about writing to others who are seeking a better understanding.  And it keeps me on my toes…constantly thinking and learning.

This lead me to this blog post about how I run my Writer’s Workshop.

Now…when I say Writer’s Workshop, I’m not speaking in the Lucy Caulkins sense of the word.  I call my whole writing time “Writer’s Workshop.”  And as anyone who follows me or knows me knows (ha, that sounded weird), my heart lies with Gretchen Bernabei.  :)  She’s my writing hero!  LOL

Ok, so enough about that.  Here’s how my time looks:

I have (realistically) 60 minutes of writing time.  It’s supposed to be more, but it falls at the end of the day, right before our intervention time, and after lunch…so you know how transitions are.  They always take longer than what the schedule says.

As soon as we come into the room, we work on our Daily Writing Review.  This lasts about 7-10 minutes, depending on the day.

Next up is our grammar time.  This is where we go over things like nouns, verbs, tenses, complete sentences…pretty much anything that isn’t included in our review time.  This lasts us anywhere from 5-15 minutes.  Usually the first couple of days we discuss a certain skill/concept and create an anchor chart together, and then the middle-end of the week is reserved for looking into our own writing, finding places to apply these new things, whether it’s an old or new piece.

So we are now 20ish minutes into our Writer’s Workshop.  I say “ish” because each day of the writing review and grammar review require different amounts of time.  The last ~40 minutes are devoted to our writing.

In a nutshell, 10 for Daily Writing Review (which includes spelling, for those of you wondering), 10 for grammar, 40 for writing.  If you’re interested in how the writing process goes down, continue reading.  If not, thanks for stopping by!  😉

Ok, so for those of you in for the long haul…here goes.

I’ve had several people ask about how long it takes us to publish a piece of writing or to go from beginning to end.  My answer: it depends.  You’ll see why.

Many times, we spend three whole days planning out three different pieces of writing using the same text structure.  Now for those of you who use Gretchen’s materials, you know what I’m talking about.  Those of you who don’t…shame on you, first of all.  No, I’m kidding.  Gretchen uses text structures to help kids organize their writing.  And Oh.  My.  Goodness.  It works.  Very well!  So anyway, I pick one text structure that I want my kids to practice, and then give them a new prompt for three consecutive days.  They use this planning page, fill out the structure, and write their kernel essay for three separate prompts.  When they are done, they have three complete pages and are allowed to choose which one they want to take to publishing.

Yes, I give my students choice.  Allowing them to choose what they want to write about makes it not so intimidating…and monotonous…and overwhelming.  I want writing to be fun, and if I always force them to write about what I want them to write about, they start not to like it.  Will there come a time (say, February?) when I don’t allow choice?  Sure.  That’s called “It’s a month before THE test and you HAVE to learn to write about what THIS prompt tells you to write about” time.  Ha.

Next, I give the students two days or so to finish out their drafts.  Some finish on day one, while others take two full days.  If students are finished early, I tell them to go back.  Reread.  Think about your writers tools.  Add in what you can.  Read it to a partner.  Ask each other questions about what’s going on in the story.  Add in those details.  Make it even better.  And if all else fails, start a new free writing piece in your notebook while you wait for everyone else to finish.

It’s now been a full week…and no mini lessons.  I know.  It’s ok.  Breathe.  Relax.  It’s coming!  😉

NOW it’s time for the mini lessons.  I choose two things I’d like my kids to try out for the mini lessons.  I use Gretchen’s book, Fun Size Academic Writing to choose lessons that I like and think my kids can handle.  We try out all kinds of crafts…and it usually surprises me what they can do!  They are little sponges.

So once I decide, I make copies of mentor texts (taken from that book) and give each student their own copy to keep.  We use colored pencils, highlighters, pencils, pens…lots of things…to underline, highlight, circle, and color up the writing.  We talk about the writing piece.  We notice things.  And then I invite my students to try out that particular writer’s craft in their own piece of writing.

This means that students have to REVISE their own work.  You like how I kill two birds with one stone there?  Genius, I know.  My students learn that their first draft is NOT done.  It is NOT perfect.  Take that wedding ring off, kids…you aren’t married to that draft!  It can change.  It WILL change.  All for the better.  :)

We are now roughly seven days into this writing process.  We’ve planned, drafted, revised and edited (<–during our grammar time).  It’s now time to publish.  I give my students cute computer paper with designs on it, along with a laminated piece of paper that has dark black lines on it.  Since the computer paper has no lines, they use the dark lined page underneath it so that they show through and provide lines without them actually having lines on their page.  Then once they’re done, they take the lined paper off of the back, and voila!  A nicely written piece that doesn’t have lines….and doesn’t curve down the page.

I give them about two days to publish.  This is their time to practice their VERY BEST handwriting…so I don’t want it hastily done!  Once they are finished, it’s time for our Writer’s Celebration!  You can read more about our celebrations and grab a copy of our comment page here.  It’s a much shorter post than this one.  :)

So there ya have it.  A day in writing…and a couple of weeks worth of our writing process.  Whew!  It’s done!

You know the worst part of all of this…this is the SECOND time I have written this…because my computer didn’t save it the first time around.  Yeah.  I’ve been sitting at the computer for 2 1/2 hours writing.  *sigh*  The other one was probably better…but I got it done!  😉

Thanks for hanging in there with me.  I’m so glad you stopped by!  If you have any other questions, ask away in the comments section.  I’m sure others probably have the same questions, and we can all learn from each other!

Have a great week!

Until next time…

 

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Next Round of POPPERS: A Daily Writing Review (And a little bragging)

It’s done!  It’s done!  Set 2 of POPPERS: A Daily Writing Review is up in my TpT store now!  This set is the next 6 weeks in the series.

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Just like set 1, each day is themed, and each week reviews the same skill in different ways.  Let me tell you…my kiddos are LOVING this!  Their favorite days of the week are Tuesdays and Thursdays.  On Tuesdays, they get to draw pictures to go with 3 of the skills.  What kid doesn’t like to draw?  And Thursdays are “Rule Breaking” days.  They think that’s pretty cool.  The funny part about that…Thursdays are the hardest.  This REALLY requires them to THINK!  They have to be able to reverse their knowledge and write things the WRONG way…and that’s pretty difficult to do…but they still love it.  :)

I’ve taken some pics of them working on their pages and thought I’d share them with you.  (If you click on the pictures it will take you to a full screen where you can actually READ them!)  They are doing such a great job!  And I’m so glad that I’m able to spiral all of these skills in a relatively short amount of time each day.  I feel like we are getting a lot of bang for our buck…EVERY day!  :)

Here are are just a few of the days.  We actually haven’t gotten to Journal Day every week because of crazy schedules/assemblies/running out of time, but once they actually did it….WOW!  They totally impressed me.  I even had students tell me that they “don’t like to write that much,” but then wrote front AND back on their page to try to get in all the rules for the week.  Little stinkers!  😉

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I know these show up funky…but I can’t get them to line up.  Forgive me on this one!  😉

This is Picture Day, where the students draw some sort of picture to help them remember the idiom, homophones, and sparkle word for the week.  Even though some of them are hard to draw, they do it anyway…and always come up with something interesting!

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This is Rule Breaking day, where they purposely write the rules the wrong way.  Like I said, this is very hard…especially for some students…but the more they do it, the more they get the hang of it.  And they like to be able to “break the rules” and not get into trouble for it!  After writing sentences and words incorrectly, they pass it to a table mate and have them correct it.  This also opens up lots of conversations about their work.  Some tell me that it’s already written correctly and they don’t have to do anything.  My response: Great!  Now you really know these rules and can see that even though it was supposed to be done wrong, it was actually done right!  Good for you!

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These pics are a little blurry.  Sorry about that.  We usually write with the lights off, and my flash apparently didn’t go off on all of the pictures.  But you get the idea.  This was one of our Journal Days, where students write a short imaginative story, putting in as many of the rules we studied for the week as possible in the amount of time I give them.  They TOTALLY shocked me with this…especially hearing the groans looking at a page with lines that filled the page.  Again…little stinkers!  But they SOOO did it and did it very well.  I am just so proud of how far they have already come!!

So…if you haven’t grabbed a copy of this little gem, do it!  This has already impacted my classroom more than I ever dreamed.  Students are coming up with sparkle words during reading, correcting their own writing during Writer’s Workshop, and looking for words in their everyday reading.  It’s amazing!  I feel like this has somewhat opened their eyes to how writers use rules in their everyday lives.  And let me tell you…it’s a pretty cool feeling.

If you want a copy of POPPERS, you can grab it here.  Or you can click the link over on the right-hand side of the screen and visit my TpT store and look around.  There are now 2 sets of the daily writing review.  You can start with whichever set you’d like.  It starts a little easier and gets harder as it goes, but if you’ve already covered a lot of grammar rules, you may want to just start with set 2.  In all, there will be 5 sets…enough for 30 whole weeks of grammar/writing review.

I’m getting my permission forms ready for my kidlettes to show off their writing they have done during Writer’s Workshop, so hopefully my next post will be our very first published writing piece.  I can’t wait to show you how THAT’S going!  I’m so pumped!  This year has gotten off to a great start!

Until next time…

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