A colleague in my K- 5 school asked for a few ideas about making writer’s workshop fun and engaging. I love those questions because it allows me to be creative and gather ideas. Here are a few ideas to get started… (If you have more please add them!)
- Be passionate- write in front of the students and let them see you write and talk out loud about your process, about spelling, …
- Draw pictures to go with the writing
- Write stories to go with the pictures
- Make comic books
- Re-write comic books (the one you just made or one that was professionally made) into story format with dialogue and description
- Let students write what they want- lists, stories, opinions, how-to, all I know about…, non-fiction or fiction, poems, … play with words
- Find a real audience- another classroom, the hallway, a classroom in another school or another city, country, a blog, …
- Design/ diagram something invented and explain how it works
- Read/ tell the beginning of a story and have the students continue/ finish it
- Act out a story and then have the students write the script
- Write a script and then have the students act it out, or with puppets, or as a podcast or …
- Writing prompts
- Connect writing closely with reading or science or social studies
- Shared writing
- Do you have a class mascot (stuffed animal, live animal, …)? Write the stories of the mascot- where from, past adventures, include pictures,
- Class blog on kidblog.org
- Add podcasts of students reading their writing on your page of the school’s website
- Check out blog posts such as: http://tunstalltimes.blogspot.com/2014/08/engaging-writing-activities.html
- Stick with the standards but let your mind wander and your creativity soar
As literacy coach, I mostly work with teachers to improve their instruction of reading and writing. Now, as the school year ends, I have had the opportunity to return a bit to that which motivated my interest in coaching to begin with: conferencing with students.
Today in 5th grade a student asked me to do the final edit on his memoir. I agreed. We sat together and discussed a few key words, some grammar points and the structure of a memoir. When we arrived at the importance of the story, he spoke of having learned that with support he can achieve any goal. I told him to never forget that lesson. We spoke of his going to 6th grade, his future and his enduring learnings.
As we finished our conference he leans over, pats me on the shoulder and says, “Thank you for the life lesson, Mr. Fleming.” I smiled, thinking he was joking. He wasn’t.
Life lesson. That is education and it so much more important than the key words and the grammar points.
I was co-teaching in a 5th grade writer’s workshop today; we are working on memoirs. I overheard a student tell the teacher, “I don’t want to work with Mr. Fleming. He corrects me too much.”
That got me wondering, am I offering too many corrections? In my conversation with the student we reviewed the difference between a story and a memoir; she understood well the concept. Then I asked her, “What could you add to your conclusion to…” and before I finished she answered, “I need to tell how I learned that lesson when that event happened.”
“Yes!” I replied.
“Should I mention that learning at the beginning so the reader knows where I am headed?” Clearly she had overheard my previous conversations.
“Yes. Go to it.”
So, I don’t think I offered too many corrections. I believe that she evaluated her work and found a few holes in her writing on her own. I confirmed her evaluation and sent her on her way. The problem was that she did not want to make the additions. But that’s OK, I have yet to meet a 5th grader who likes to make corrections (and I haven’t met too many adults who like to make corrections either).