It was so nice of Andrea to let me write this guest post! My name is Melissa and I have a blog called Teacher Treasure Hunter. I teach 1st grade and LOVE it! I blog about teaching tips, technology, deals, picture books and random stuff!
I definitely don't have all the answers to these (sorry!) but I can share what has helped me! I now feel much more confident about teaching writing. I've seen many students get excited about writing and have heard positive feedback from other teachers about their love for writing as they have advanced grades. My students love to share their writing. This was a story one of the boys wrote about his fish. I'm sharing it with you because I thought it was so sweet. I liked how he shared his emotions and I love the creative ending! I wanted to play with him and show him the sun and moon...It sounds poetic!
No More 'I'm Done!' by Jennifer Jacobson. Amazingly, you can preview this WHOLE book at the Stenhouse webpage. Just click on the book title above. I have to warn you though, that you will probably be like me and want to buy a copy of the book! She has so many great ideas about helping primary students foster a love for reading and become independent. Some of her ideas (like writing with a pen) I started out using and adapted (I couldn't abide the messy, smeary pages). I still embrace the philosophy behind it which is that you want students to focus on the message and not the mechanics! This has helped me to let go of much of the editing during writing time. When I meet with them during conference, we still have editing goals of spelling, capitalization, and punctuation, but I try to focus on the content. When I meet with a student for a final conference before publishing, I help them fix some of the things that they should know (phonetic words, capitalization, etc.) by asking them questions. What does every sentence need at the beginning? Let's stretch out this word. What sounds do you hear? Then they can publish on the fancy paper. It won't be perfect by any means, but it will be readable and make sense.
I'm going to share a few writing tips and then there will be some freebies at the end of this post. :)
*Kids love freedom while writing! Limit the writing prompts and let them write about the things they love.
*Kids thrive on challenges! As soon as you have a student who has written a really long piece (you may have to nudge someone in that direction - Wow! This story is getting so long! How long do you think it will be when you finish it?) brag about how long it is. Wonder aloud if it will be the longest story written that year. If you have students who have written really long stories in a previous year, share that information with your current students. See if they can beat the all-time record for the longest story! That has inspired so many of my students to really put effort into their writing.
*Kids love colored pens and pencils! I have my students write the rough draft in pencil, but they can edit in red pen and revise with green pen. It's always a big deal to use pens!
*Kids love to show off their work! Don't miss out on an opportunity for the class to share their final writing with the class. I like to have a celebration time where they read their story to the class. We all clap. :) I let them call on 2 students when they are finished. One student gives them a wish and one student gives them a wow.
*Kids like to write about animals! My first graders have been very interested in learning and writing about animals. They have a natural curiosity and you can fan that interest by including super cool facts about some of the animals. Did you know that the cheetah is not the fastest animal? It's the fastest LAND animal. The Peregrine Falcon dives at a speed that is almost 3 times the speed of a cheetah! Wow! Those kind of facts will get your kids excited. Also, provide them with research materials that are written at their level. This is a great way to meet those non-fiction common core standards.
*Kids love to read stories that other students have written! Keep their final work in a 3 ring binder. Each story can be placed into sheet protectors so it is kept safe. Put the binders in your classroom library.
*Kids love it when their teacher shares awesome work with their parents! Bring that binder to conferences and brag on the writing of their student. Hint: Take the individual student's writing out - you don't want it to be a time of comparison to other students.
I have a couple of writing freebies to share with you. One is a list writing freebie that is at TPT. These are great for "quick" writing and generating ideas. The other freebie has some papers that you can use for final copies. There are some that can be printed and some lined paper to copy onto "fancy" paper. Just buy some cute printer paper and run it through the copier to have fancy, lined paper. I like the kind at Wal-Mart. The dollar tree paper is very thin. I like to have a variety of papers in a drawer for them to choose from as they write their final copy.
Thanks for reading and I hope you found something that you can use in your classroom!
Thanks, Melissa for some wonderful ideas for helping with writing! Come back next week to see if I survived Disney!