Workshop Wednesday: Which Is Mine?

 Welcome to Workshop Wednesday!

This week, we are sharing how we get students to WRITE- what are some strategies you use to get your students to begin writing instead of staring at their paper? (You know the kids I’m talking about!!)

I love to give my students options to write about – things they can connect with… it makes them passionate about what they are writing about! Sometimes, this isn’t an option, because I NEED them to write to a prompt, or to write about something we are learning about… but when I can, I try to make writing as FUN for THEM as possible! Like writing about cake, and ice cream sundaes, and theme parks…… who doesn’t want to do that??
We are reading the story, How Many Days To America? by Eve Bunting for our mentor text and mentor sentence for the week, which is FULL of visualization. The students can literally see Eve Bunting’s story without seeing the pictures. So this week in writing, we are working on showing and NOT just telling. Showing doesn’t mean just filling our writing with adjectives either… we need a lot of DETAILS. I showed them my paragraph about cake:

We talked about how it has great adjectives, but we don’t know which cake I am describing just based on what I wrote. All of them have chocolate… and let’s face it… all of them should be eaten up. 😛 So I “revised” my paragraph:

 NOW you can tell which cake is mine!!

I had the students practice talking out loud to a partner about one of the cakes. Their partner needed to be able to guess the cake. Talking it out BEFORE writing is another great strategy to use with students who get “stuck.” I also made sure the students weren’t just saying, “my cake is chocolate with raspberries.” We talked about how boring that is, and how Eve Bunting wouldn’t write like that!!

Next, I gave them the opportunity to write in “secret”:

First of all, you should have heard the “oooooh”s and “mmmmm”s that came from EVERY kiddo in my class! Not one student was moaning and groaning to do this writing activity. They immediately picked up their pencil and began writing. Not one student sat there staring at their paper! Giving them fun things to write about, giving them models, and giving them an “exciting” task (“make sure we can guess which one is yours!”) kept every student motivated to write and busy right away. And not every writing “piece” has to be a full-blown, five-paragraph essay!

Here are three examples of writing from a high, medium, and low kid.

Of course, we want all of our students to be writing like the high kid, but notice that my medium and low kids were still using voice, they were totally on task, and they WROTE immediately, which was a huge step for a few of them in my room.

Now I know that every writing piece can’t be like this. Kiddos are going to have to write to a prompt. They are going to have to write about things they aren’t always that interested in. But when you can get them interested other days, and grow their love for writing, it will carry over into days when they aren’t as excited about the topic. :o)


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