Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Writing Workshop Ideas Lesson

The first book I downloaded on my Kindle was No More "I'm Done!": Fostering Independent Writers in the Primary Grades by Jennifer Jacobson. I'd heard great things about it, and couldn't wait to read it.

I've read most of the book, and it made me want to start the beginning of the year over because it had so many great Writing Workshop ideas. Writing Workshop is my 2nd favorite thing to teach (next to Math Workshop). I couldn't believe how many ideas I was able to pull from this book. 

Once I got over the fact that I could not turn back time, I read on to the section with ideas for lessons throughout the year. I used one of her ideas in my classroom recently, and wanted to share.

I don't know about your students, but some of my students still struggle with getting ideas for their writing. We've talked about where you can get ideas, made a "map of our heart" like I have in my Writing Notebook materials, and even have of poster in our class of the ideas the group came up with. Despite all of this, I still have a few who claim that they have "nothing to write about".

She suggested to teach kids that they can draw a picture of a special place, and then mark an x every place that they have a special memory. 

To illustrate writing a story centered around a special place, I first pre-read The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson the day before. (This is one of my absolute FAVORITE stories!) The next day, we revisited the story and I talked about how I noticed the author wrote the whole story around 1 location which was a fence.

Then, I created a map of my backyard to show how I had lots of stories from one place.

Here is my example (Beware... I did not take the time to make it as cute as possible...):

I  put 2 x's on the pool for the 2 stories I can remember there, I put an x on the grass because our backyard is where we always did Easter Egg hunts (every year until I was 22... no more once I got married, don't judge!), I put an x on the table where we sat one summer for a graduation party, etc.

Then, I gave my students the option of taking a blank piece of paper and drawing a map of their own special place. They understood that it could be any place and the x's would mark different stories they could write about.

Here is one example:

This was a great way to show students another way to collect ideas. I also like that it gives students a chance to draw ideas first instead of feeling the pressure to write something all the time.

How do you help your students come up with ideas?


The Daily Alphabet said...

Thanks for sharing! I have the same exact problem. I see we're birds of a feather, this is my first year in K, after teaching 1st grade for 3 years.

The Daily Alphabet

Unknown said...

I just read the book last week in one day and felt the same way about it as you. I can't wait to revamp my writer's workshop for next year too. I have the same problem with my class too. I will have to try this one. I did the lesson about using the binoculars to focus in on more detail. I think her example from the book was when students wrote "I saw a field". Then she got them to focus more on what was in the field (a cow), what did it look like, what was it doing, etc. I also have been doing adult writing underneath my student's writing. This whole week, I haven't done that. I've let my students write and I'm amazed at how much more they are writing. I haven't conferenced with them yet, but just by going around the room, I can tell that they are less hesitant about making mistakes and are writing so much more. And not one of them is saying "I'm done".


Miss DeCarbo said...

I LOVE this book! It has truly changed my way of teaching writing. I blogged about it awhile back - I'm hooked! Thanks so much for sharing this. :) I just discovered your blog and I'm so glad I did! Hope you can jump over to my lil blog and visit. :)

Second Grade Sugar and Spice

School Sparks Renee said...

The question you pose is really a valuable one -- how to best help young children harness their ideas. I always found the best way was to ask very specific questions such as: What did you eat for breakfast this morning? Or, What is your favorite breakfast food? With a narrow question, children seem to have an easier time focusing and getting started. I also think that letting them draw a picture before writing is a great way to help them get started. Fantastic lesson, thanks for sharing.