Let's Talk Writing!

One of the topics I'll be presenting in Vegas in July 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!!!  


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  4. Miss Carroll- I was lucky enough to see you present at the I teach 1st conference here in Vegas for the past two years. You were very inspiring. I love what you presented at the conference on how to start writers workshop. I went on to your blog and I was able to implement some of the ideas you gave on writing from the heart. My students became better writers and they LOVE TO WRITE! THank you for posting such amazing idea and sharing them with us!