Last month, we welcomed you to 4Q’s Reading Community. This time, we’d like to share a bit about our community of writers! Here are some reasons why we think our writing community is special:
“We have writing tools.” -B
Our literacy work at Brown School is anchored in the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project UOS. My writers have a writing folder with one pocket for tools, including a notebook, and the other for writing projects. Many of the tools we use (checklists, mentor texts, anchor charts) live in the virtual resources we have access to from TCRWP. There are countless staff developers and educators who generously share their thinking and self-created tools on Twitter. Whether you are a UOS school or not, consider following #TCRWP for ideas!
A tool that I have found particularly useful to have in the classroom is a mini sketchbook. It invites me to create mini anchor charts of my own and in collaboration with writers. Charts can be shared for the whole class with the document camera and/or duplicated with technology! Often times, I invite writers to take a picture of the chart for themselves, their partnership, or small group before I move along. This allows me to carry my sketchbook around the room and offer access to writers I have already met with.
“We create writing work plans.” -S
I developed the template below based on an article I read – Writing Work Plans by Brian Sepe. Each writer has a work plan template inside of a sheet protector. It simply lives in their binder, and it is part of our routine to take it out when we set up our writing spaces for workshop. Following our mini lesson, writers get their Expo markers moving to create a work plan! Writers love that they are in charge of making a plan that feels like a reasonable goal for the day. I love how this writing routine builds student agency, keeps writers focused, and is easily cleaned up. . .”Clear your work plan with your mini eraser, and clip it back into your binder for tomorrow!”
“We have the learning board.” -L
It is important to me that young writers understand that what we are learning comes with strategies and has a purpose. This is the reason I now include the how and the why.
Above, I have typed an example of how we use our learning board. The “Today I could be working on. . .” often helps writers create their work plan. This is another way to foster independent learners at the elementary level.
“We do Freewrite Fridays.” -L
My teammate, Amanda, brought this joyful writing routine to the fourth grade team. This routine is anchored in Colby Sharp‘s The Creativity Project. On Fridays, writers study a prompt (image, story starter, last sentence, etc.) and make a quick plan. Then, they are invited to bring their writing to life in prose, through poetry, or even a comic format!
We recently leaned on Lift for inspiration as we tried out our first Freewrite Friday using Jarrett Lerner’s blank comic templates.
After 6 weeks of school, writers have noticed quite a bit about our writing community. Many writers also mentioned enjoying our narrative unit filled with opportunities to write small moment stories from their own lives and invent a character for a realistic fiction series. Tomorrow, we shift into our information writing unit. Here’s to hoping that writers will be just as excited about this new genre!