What is the Teacher Doing While the Students Write?: Writing Sundays #3

Probably the hardest thing to do during writing time is to carve out some time to be part of the whole process. Once you discover the "secret" to doing this, it's like MAGIC! Thanks for joining me this week. :)

Back when I was little, the teacher taught us a lesson and assigned a piece of writing that we worked on at our desks quietly.  When we were done, we brought our writing up to the teacher and she "marked" it.  Mostly, we were marked for spelling or punctuation errors.  I was afraid to write too much when I was in the younger grades because I would have to correct too many mistakes! Consequently, my writing probably wasn't nearly as good as it could have been if I wasn't so concerned about the errors and having to correct them. The funny thing about it, is I was an excellent speller! Back then, when I walked up to the teacher, it was like the end judgement on my work. I am so glad that these days, the teacher is a part of the process to help students grow as they move through the stages of writing.

          (Credits: Whimsy Workshop Teaching, Hello Fonts, Sassy Designs)

I love seeing writing as a process.  You will know just where your students are at at this time of the year depending on the grade level you are teaching so I hope you can take this mindset that I am going to talk about with you to your classroom and adjust as needed. (We are all so good at that aren't we?)

I think sometimes we get a little too stuck on processes and routines and we forget that it doesn't always have to be that way.  For example, the Writing Process usually involves prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, evaluating and publishing.  But does that mean you must ALWAYS do all of those stages - NO! It's important to teach students some pre-writing strategies so that they have something to write about (more on that in another post) but I have found that students don't always need to go through each stage each time they write.  In fact, my students do so much better when we take the time to adjust to each individual. Some students are ready to go through most of the stages each time and want to, and others need the most practice at the drafting stage.

When I first started teaching I tried to get my students to go through the stages of writing each time we began a new story.  If this is how you teach writing and it works for you, great!  For me, I found that it took so long to go through each stage to reach a finished, polished piece, that students were not exposed to as many strategies, ideas and skills as they were when I began to differentiate more.  I most definitely have a lesson after being in school for about 6 weeks to teach the students what the writing process is, and an overview of the stages so that they have a roadmap for future writing.

I use this wheelie chair to move easily around my classroom AS the kids write.  I just LOVE being at their level and having time to personally chat to them as they write.  

I will often speak up to the class as I chat with a student and say, "Does anyone know a good name for a cheetah?" or what ever the child and I were chatting about so that everyone can contribute to the ideas. (I usually ask the student first so that they are not embarrassed.  Sometimes, I will begin the year by doing this with students that are not quite as shy first. ) As I wheel around, I am usually able to get around the whole room.  As I do, I make note of the students' writing skills.  I look at strengths and areas that need support.  I find there are usually "groupings" of students that need support or are strong in similar areas making it a great way to pair or group them later.  I use this chair so that I am at their level but also because it is very kind to your back and posture and teachers need to be aware of this because they are on their feet all day.

I created this quick little informal assessment sheet that you can use as a whole or clip down the center to make it smaller. It is designed to show growth over time and can be used just by you or in consultation with the student.  I find that this is all I need as a conference with students because I facilitate their writing process  at least twice a week.  If the conference becomes too time consuming then it can only be done once a term for assessment purposes and then it is not designed to be assessment FOR learning. If you'd like your own copy, please click on the picture to download one for {free}. I also use their mindful journals as a writing assessment piece and this sheet could be used for that or other writing as well.

If students are clear as to what the lesson is and they have all the tools they need at their disposal (pencils, erasers, sharpeners, dictionaries, privacy folders etc.) then you will be much more able to move around and be a part of their writing process.

Next week:  Author Studies

Thanks for joining me.  If you have any comments or questions, I'd love to hear from you!

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  1. I enjoyed reading these are great ideas! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Good ideas. Please keep sharing, i will admit I hate teaching writing to 2nd grade! I am looking for as much info as I can find to improve the way I go at this skill!

    1. Thanks for reading and I hope you find what you need.

      :) Shelley


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