Tips and tools from an elementary school Literacy Coach
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
I know my blog posts don't always show it, but I have a secret dream. It's probably a pretty common one. I am a teacher after all, and teachers love words.
Before I was a teacher, I was a nerdy child. This, actually, is an understatement. I was THE nerdy child. A straight-A student, following instructions to the letter, and never deterring from the self-righteous path that I had determined as the only right way to do things. I worse big, almost-perfectly-round glasses with wire frames. I had crooked teeth between which my tongue would occasionally protrude, trying to form a lisping "s". I say 'had'. I should say 'have'. I cried when I got my first B in third grade math, and I loved books. I loved to read. I spent hours squirreled away in my bedroom reading Anne of Green Gables. All of this undoubtedly pushed me in the direction of a young writer.
I had a notebook that I religiously carried around with me. An unceremonious purple spiral, with the wires uncurled and sticking out on either end, making it look like some kind of a medieval instrument of torture. It was filled with page after page of my "novel," about a magic hallway mirror ugh, the cheesiness in the house of some older, kindly women, loosely based on my aunts. Later, when I moved from Dallas to El Paso, the novel changed. It was now about Annie, a young girl who, not unlike myself, moved and started over in a new town. However, Annie, unlike me, quickly met a handsome young man with striking green eyes, and fell in love, her life surely to end in unbelievable happiness.
I had a penchant for drama, okay?
But all that cheese is not really my point. My point is that I loved to write, so I spent my time thinking like a writer. Thinking like a writer is what helped me grow, not only as a writer, but as a reader.
Do our kids love writing?
If they don't we have some problems. If they don't love to write, and spend much of their day doing it - and I'm not only talking about fiction here; I'm talking about at all - then we are missing out on a vital tool that will grow them as readers, and thinkers, and individuals.
We're trying to build some reflective writing practices on our campus. One way we're doing it is by using the language of writing with our kids. We can help them grow in their sophistication by growing their thinking about the choices they make in their writing. Because writing is nothing if not a series of deliberate choices to make an impact on the reader.
Here's a little anchor chart I put together to encourage kids' using more sophisticated language to talk about their writing choices. I used the released questions from the Texas STAAR Writing Fourth Grade Test and other sources as well. Then I organized the stems into the three categories on the writing rubric, to help students think about the purpose of their conversations.
You can also grab this freebie to use these tools in your classroom! Included in this pack: teacher reference sheets (color and black and white) and response cards to use in writing response/revising groups or for students to use independently to revise their own writing. Grab it free at TPT!