Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Workshop Wednesday- Writing

Happy Wednesday!  Yay, the middle of the week is here....hump day.... :)  I'm thrilled that this week is going much better and faster than last week, however I could do without the polar vortex returning.... AGAIN!  Looks like another couple of days of indoor recess for us.  You warm weather bloggers need to start sharing the wealth. I'm ready for SPRING {and so are the kids!}  I'm linking up for the first time with Ideas By Jivey for the weekly 'Workshop Wednesday' linky party!  It's on writing this week, and I'm so excited that I feel like I have something to link up with!  Be sure to stop by the blog to check out what others are doing.

Writing is something that I feel I always am changing and improving in my classroom.  It's the one thing that I never feel satisfied with, but always enjoy finding new things to incorporate.  I feel very fortunate to be working in a school that does value the teaching of writing, and making sure our kids write everyday!  I'm a part of our school writing committee, and have been since I started working here 7 years ago.  I have to admit that it has changed directions several times in those 7 years, but always for the better.  We're always trying to find new and exciting things to do and teach with one another so we're all on the same page.  I've really learned some great things from them and others.  Although this isn't my tip.... I would highly suggest getting involved in a writing committee at your school or talk to others about how they teach it.  Even across grade levels, it's so important to see where students are coming from and where they are going.  I've been trying to get to my co-worker Jennifer's room for weeks now, with little luck... however I know I'll get to her eventually and I can't wait to see her writing circles.  Check out what she's been up to here at Mrs. Laffin's Laughings. I get a lot of great ideas from her, so would like to give credit!!! :)

My tip for writing would be to keep it interesting and different.  I run my classroom in centers for language arts.  Even though I have a specific writing block each day where we are working on writing projects, I try to incorporate many different things into my writing centers, especially where students get the chance to work independently.  I like to change it up and give students the opportunity to write in a number of ways and feel like they are free to express themselves in the writing that they do.  I don't always tell them what they have to write, because where is the fun in that?  Sometimes I guide them or give them specifics, but I want them to want to write.  (A movie quote is coming to mind here.... don't ask me why because that usually isn't my thing.  In the Breakup where Jennifer Aniston wants Vince Vaughn to want to do the dishes... anyone anyone??? I digress)....

Some examples of changing it up and keeping it different for students at the writing center are:

Seasonal Activities-

I will set my read alouds up for different activities using the 6 traits. They are usually small activities, but I will read a book and then pick a trait to focus on.  For example, using this book: Wee Can Write: Using 6+1 trait writing strategies with renowned Children's Literature, I will pick a book to share with students.  For Winter I may read Owl Moon, and focus on voice.  After reading, we will talk about the three main characters in Owl Moon (the father, the child and the owl) and then in their journals they will draw one of the characters and then write sentences describing that character and their traits.

Letter writing or prompts for writing letters-

We will write letters to our buddies, or teachers in the school and the kids love it.  We address and deliver so they practice all aspects of writing a letter.  Other time I'll put out some letter writing prompts for them to write to other people.  Here are a sample of a few prompts.
I also put out stationary paper and different letter writing paper options that change for holidays and seasons. They sure love playing with letter writing materials! Here are examples of some of the prompts that I use when they are told who to write to.

Sticker Stories-

I shared these in a blog awhile ago, but I LOVE sticker stories. For an explanation check out this past blog post on writing sticker stories.  Students get so creative when it comes to making a picture around a sticker and then writing a fun story to go along with it. I don't do these every week, or even every month, but when I do it always gets students writing!


If students want to write about their own topic then they can, and if they don't want me to read it because it's personal they fold the paper in half when they hand in their journal.  If not, I respond to their journal writing.  Sometimes they get stuck so I put a prompt up for them to follow and then write a story about the prompt. I found this really great website for different writing prompt ideas.  Check it out here: CanTeach.

Memory Books-

Our grade level orders memory books for each student for the school year.  We try to write one memorable thing that we do in 3rd grade each month.  It's fun to allow students to be given a topic and a picture of them doing something and then have them write about it.  We use main idea/detail graphic organizers, and I always write in my memory book first to show some examples and think alouds on the topic.  At the end of the year, we sit in a circle and write something nice to each student from the year and then they get to take them home on the last day.  It's so much fun to have them write about what they are doing in this journal/diary format.  They love their memory books and it really helps us stay on top of all that we've accomplished through the year.

Here is an example of our writing from Thanksgiving time.  Instead of a picture of themselves, they make a 'Thankful Turkey' out of tracing their hand! :)

Here is just a small sample of what we do to change up our writing and give us many opportunities to write! What do you do to motivate students to write?


  1. I really need to do sticker stories - I know my students would be super motivated by them - they still love stickers. Thanks for sharing all the ways you incorporate writing into your rotations - I am always on the look out for ways to sneak in more writing!

  2. I agree with AMC. I need to incorporate sticker stories because my kiddos love creative writing and stickers! I love all the variety you use to keep it fresh. Thanks for sharing great ideas again Ana!

    Success in Second Grade
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  3. I would send warm weather from Florida, but it was 38 here today. I don't think that is the kind of warm you were referring to. I totally got the Breakup line. Hahah. My fifth graders still love using sticker stories. They aren't too cool for them, which I love. We do a great deal of letter writing because I make the kids write "thank yous" for just about everything...I like your cards. Hope you warm up soon!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  4. Hi Ana! I am your newest follower! Thanks for sharing all these great writing ideas! LOVE them. Your letter writing activity reminded me of The Jolly Postman book. Have you used that as a mentor text? After we read that, the kids loved writing books and putting envelopes inside the books with letters in them. I can see your kids loving that! :)
    Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together

    1. Hi Carolyn- hanks for stopping by and for the great comment. I have not used the Jolly Postman book but I will have to check it out. It sounds like a great activity for me to use at the end of the year when we do postcards from Lake Geneva as we learn about where we live! Kids LOVE writing letters so much. Thanks for the advice. Did you know that you're a no-reply blogger? It's not biggie either way, but if you want to change that so people can reply to you via email I can help you out with that! Sometimes it's nice to discuss things over email to keep track! I look forward to checking out your blog later today. :)

  5. Thanks for linking up Ana! I love your center ideas! Thank you for sharing the great ideas!


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