Let's Talk Writing!

Is anybody else wondering how today is already June 29th?!?!  Tomorrow is the LAST day of June.  Last.  How did that happen?!  Is anyone else feeling like summer is *almost* over?!?!?!  I know I can't be the only one!!!

Tomorrow starts a  two week journey that will take us to Indiana, Michigan, and Las Vegas.  Lots of traveling over these next two weeks.  Is anybody else going to Vegas?!  I'll be presenting for SDE on Monday (7/6) and then I'll be part of a panel for the TpT Conference on Thursday (7/9).  That Wednesday night (7/8) we have a big Teacher-Blogger Meet Up planned and it's going to be TONS of fun!!!  I really hope to see you there!  Rachelle and Natalie wrote a great post about it that you can check out HERE.  Lots of great tips & words of wisdom for first timers and seasoned veterans alike!
And here are the amazingly generous sponsors who have helped to make this meet-up possible...


Exciting, right?!  A little over a week away and I can't wait!!!

One of the topics I'll be presenting in Vegas is all about writing.  As I'm going through my presentation I thought it would be the perfect time to talk a little bit about it here and show y'all what I do and what I feel helps to make writing in my classroom so successful.

First up, let's talk about some writing non-negotiables.



If we expect our kids to become fluent writers capable of producing more than just a sentence here and there, we have to give them TIME to write.  Not just 5 minutes here and there, but time for sustained writing.  Not only do we need to give them the time to write, but we need to give them the freedom to write about what interests them.  I personally feel like writing opportunities should present themselves throughout the day....during guided reading, in literacy AND math stations, in response to science/social studies topics and concepts...the list goes on.  I want my kids to value writing and see its importance and the only way I can foster that is by giving them opportunities to write.
Take this writing for example.  By the end of the year, he was writing for sustained periods of time and producing longer pieces because he was given the time to do so.  Pretty darn good, don't you think...especially for a Kindergartner!!


One area that I've always struggled with is my writing center.  I'm always trying to find writing activities that will excite and engage ALL of my learners.  Oftentimes I miss the mark.
I want them to LOVE to write.  I want them to CHOOSE to write when they have free time.  This is not always the case for every child, but I'm DETERMINED that it will be!!!

Writing is a HUGE part of our day.  We write for EVERYTHING.  We have about 30-45 minutes for Writers Workshop...then there's Shared Writing...and of course the Writing Center.  And we're writing in all other academic areas as well.  You'd think it's easy to get 'em excited to pick up their pencils.  

However, the novelty wears off.  I've noticed that when I keep doing the SAME things...keeping out the SAME writing activities....the SAME writing materials....my kids take on the "I'm over it" attitude.  And let's be real.  We're the same way.  When we do the SAME exact thing...year after year...the novelty wears off.  We need to change it up to make it exciting for both us AND the kids.  
I feel like I'm always trying to find "one more thing" to add to the writing center.  One more thing to make it fun.  One more thing to make it exciting.  One more thing to keep them engaged.  They need options.  Lots and LOTS of options.  They also need freedom.  The autonomy to choose what they want.  After all, our goal is to instill in them a LOVE of writng, right?!  

Sometimes...a lot of times...kids need a nudge.  Most of the time they need a giant PUSH.  Although they have a menu of items from which to choose when they head to the writing center, I still hear the phrase, "I don't know what to write!" from at least one of my sweeties almost every.single.day.  I was  determined to rid their vocabularies of that phrase!

This past year I came up with a way to get them excited about writing and the autonomy to choose what to write and it was a HIT!


Task cards for prompts, books, making lists, writing letters & how-tos, and vocabulary cards, too.  The vocabulary cards have been KEY in helping to increase the kids' vocabulary and they've also been an invaluable resource for them as well.   The kids are able to choose to write what THEY want.  I just loved the idea of having  a variety choices from which to choose so that the whole "I don't know what to write" is virtually non-existent ;)

I created this little resource with my 1st grader in mind and knowing how many kids come into Kindergarten at such varying stages of development I knew that differentiation and options with lots of support were necessary.  


My emerging and new-to-writing learners have writing options that give them the support they need and my more "seasoned" writers will have lots of options as well.  There are ALWAYS kids at the beginning of the year who can do SO much more than their classmates and I want to keep them excited and engaged, too!  I also love that my first grade friends will be able to utilize this resource to the fullest and offer their friends in need of more support lots of options as well.


The task cards are divided up into different writing genres....lists, writing letters, prompts, making books, and writing expository pieces.  OBVIOUSLY I won't expect Kindergarten friends to do MANY of these activities at the onset of the year.  I will probably choose a couple of task cards for the kids to work from and add more as the year progresses.  However, this is perfecect for both my 1st and 2n grader.  They've been using these prompt/task cards for writing inspiration this summer and I love what I've seen so far :)  

I LOVE that the little task cards give them ideas when they just can't think of anything to write.
I know we don't want to do all of the thinking for them, but I do think it's important to provide support.

My boy's favorite writing activities are writing lists and letters.  I made a blank list template for them to use so that they can help me with my grocery list every week :) 


One of my favorite activities from these packets is Spin a Sentence.  I didn't realize how much I would love it until I saw it in action and received many emails from teachers telling me how much they loved it, too.  Anything that involves something that is constantly changing is typically a favorite for kids. 


The writing center has definitley become a favorite!!!! 


I have these available for each month of the school year.  In light of today's post, I thought it would be the *perfect* time to make this the Deal of the Day!  For TODAY ONLY, this bundle is deeply discounted at half price!!!  Eeeeeekkk!!!!!  

Each month contains the same type of activities so that your kids are familiar with the concept and expectations...(reteaching is kept at a minimum!!!)  Each packet includes:
thematic vocabulary cards
describe and categorize printables
look and label printables
task cards (making lists, writing prompts, how-to, write a letter, write a book)
sentence scramble printables
spin a sentence spinners
spin it to end it printables
write about it printables

Hopefully this resource works as well for your kids as it has for ours!!!  

Now it's time to celebrate the birthday boy.  My oldest is turning 8 today and he's got some big plans for his big day that involve lots of food and a trip to the Children's Museum.  My kind of day!! (especially the *lots of food* part ;))

13 comments:

  1. I definitely feel as though this summer is just flying by! This past year was my first year teaching and what an exciting year it was. Something that I am working on this summer is making sure that I have a better writing center for my kiddos this coming year. While it didn't seem to cause too many problems, I did only do writing center two or three times a week instead of every day. I love all of the ideas that you shared and will definitely be incorporating some of them into my writing center for next year! Hopefully, I am able to get my kiddos to love writing as much as I do :)

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  2. This was so interesting, Cara! I'm a misplaced elementary teacher who teaches 7th & 8th grade ELA in a junior high setting. (Nah, I'm not truly misplaced--it's where God wants me to be *smile*) Anyhoo, I thought I would do some research this summer on the writing process K-8, and I found your wonderful post!

    At the junior high level, if I let them have a choice of prompt for Writer's Workshop, most of them suffer from a bad case of analysis paralysis and can't even get started. They want an EXACT prompt with the EXACT number of sentences and paragraphs, blah, blah, blah... The creative constipation is so sad and it takes the whole first semester to remedy. You've given me some great ideas to think on!

    Have a safe trip and enjoy all the birthday festivities!

    Melanie

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  3. THANK YOU! I've looked at this bundle for months and hesitated to spend the $$$. I so appreciate the sale price! I love what you do in writing! I went right over to TPT to make my purchase but it still says $75. Is there a special code to put in?

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    1. Sometimes Bloglovin sends the e-mails the morning after the original post. We missed it...sorry.

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    2. I'm in the same situation Sarah. My update came the day after. Darn! It's been in my wish list for a while, wish I would have caught it. Missed it, sorry. Can't wait to see you next week in vegas though! It's hot hot hot here already!

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    3. BUMMER! I was so excited I didn't even notice the date! Thanks for the heads up ladies!

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  4. This is wonderful! I am always looking for creative ways to keep my students writing at work on writing time. This will keep them interested in writing all throughout the year!

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  5. Ugghhh! The email with your blog update came at 12:14am on June 30th...no discount for me :(...so sad. I figured the different dates out when I went to TPT and saw the $75 price. WOW you rock offering the the discount. Have a blast in Vegas!

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  6. I attended a writing work day at my school today and we discussed a new writing curriculum that we will be piloting this year for writing. We discussed different ways to pull new, fun ideas into our center areas, as well as our daily lessons. I am so glad you have this available! Is there a certain curriculum that you develop your writing activities and supplemental materials from or do you pull from multiple writing collections/curriculum? I look forward to using your developed writing bundle and trying it out on the tablets we have at our school instead of printing each piece that way we have technology incorporated as well! I have found that a lot of print pieces can easily be used on iPads, tablets, and computers. (Just a thought for all those looking for technology ideas)

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    1. Tfree, can you explain more about the tech ideas? I have a few iPads but I'm a tech newbie other than apps. Tell more!

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    2. I am actually working on my Master's degree in technology right now and it is helping my incorporate technology into the classroom more than I had ever imagined. Basically it will be a small segment of trial and error for what you like best and what app your students can work easiest with! All you do is download the documents you want the students to have access to through Google Drive or straight from TPT onto their iPads (however you usually get things onto their device from yours) then just open an app, I would suggest one of these) http://appadvice.com/appguides/show/handwriting-apps-for-ipad and then as easy as you can train yourself it will be that easy for the kids to learn how to write and save or write and screenshot and erase for the next student! Some kids may even know more than you do and be able to help! I found that to be true in my classroom! :) Hope this helps! If you have any more questions feel free to ask and I am working on a tech blog of my own right now!

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  7. So bummed I missed the sale!
    I'm going to look for your workshop on Monday. Excited to see you in person!

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  8. It was an interesting post to read! I got numerous ideas to teach writing to my students at Phoenix kindergarten. I always read your posts to get unique ideas. Keep blogging such stuff my friend!!

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