Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Thinking About Writing

My mind's been stuck on math most of the summer, but for good reason. I'm excited to be switching classes for 2 hours a day with another teacher to teach math and science to her class as she teaches mine reading. So I get to teach math and science twice a day. I think I'm going to love it! I've been able to focus more on math and science planning and I don't have to worry about figuring out where my literacy stations will go and I've been able to make more room for math stations. Yay!

But on to my post title... I've been thinking about and planning for writing recently. I am certainly not the strongest writing teacher nor was I a great writer as a student. I love doing shared writing activities with the kids and making class books with them but I always start the year off strong and then it seems like writing time gets shorter and shorter as other subjects spill into that time. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of reading a great book, Your Child's Writing Life by Pam Allyn, that reiterated the importance of writing everyday.
Your Child's Writing Life: How to Inspire Confidence, Creativity, and Skill at Every Age
It was a great reminder that the best way to improve writing is to do it everyday. Just as I use the Daily 5 to help my kids build reading stamina I need to help them build their writing stamina too. I know writing is a part of the Daily 5, but at my school we are not allowed to use the writing component during our reading block, so it often gets left out if we can't find another time during the day to get to it. After looking at my schedule for this year I am vowing to give my kids an uninterrupted writing time everyday! I've got about a 40 minute language block so I'm thinking 10 minutes to do a writing mini lesson (and incorporate the grammar skill of the week), then 20 minutes of free writing (we'll start with 3 minutes and build up), and then 5 to 10 minutes of sharing.

I got to participate in observational rounds at another school last year and I saw an awesome way for kids to share their writing. Have any of you ever heard of "star, star, wish"? It was precious! In a kindergarten class the kids wrote in their journals for about 5 minutes (they were given a specific task) and then shared with their neighbor. Their neighbor gave them two stars (things they did well) and one wish (something they wish they'd done). So it went like this- Johnny says, "Molly, I give you a star for starting with a capital letter and a star for a great illustration. I wish your spaces were a little bigger". It was so wonderful to see 5 year olds pointing out things their friends had done well. I'll definitely be using that this year. Here's a sign I made to hang on the board for the star, star, wish (the teacher I observed had one on her board too- I did not come up with this idea!)
Well tomorrow's our last teacher workday and then the kids come Thursday. I feel like there's still so much to do and so little time to do it! Good luck to everyone who is starting school soon. I hope we all have fantastic first days and get the year off to a great start!


  1. Love the 2 stars and a wish idea! Thanks for sharing the sign. Can't wait to try it!
    Funky First Grade Fun

  2. When I had my first grade classroom, by kiddies loved this!! The most common "wish" was "adding more details!"

  3. Thank you for reminding me about "Star, Star, Wish"! I had forgotten about that! I pinned it to my classroom ideas board on Pinterest. I have got to remember to do this with my kinders this year.

  4. I can totally relate to the Writing "issues." There is so much emphasis on reading and math that sometimes I feel like writing takes the back burner! I love the 2 stars and a wish idea! Thanks for sharing the printable!

    Frolicking Through First

  5. I'm teaching only math and language arts this year, and although I'm happy about it {totally easier to focus}, I'm also kind of sad about not teaching reading. I think I'm going to miss it! :-)

  6. I really like this! My writing time is at the end of the day and I fight the urge to end it early, mostly because I'm bored...I need to let the kids write until their hands fall off! I will check out the book, thanks for sharing the printable :)

  7. I love this idea! I can't wait to try it during our writer's workshop time.

    First Grade OWLS

  8. Thanks for visiting my blog!
    Star star wish is a great way for writers to get feedback and gives them an authentic audience. When I model this for the students, I always make sure to give a specific star "When you described your birthday cake, I could almost taste it" and a wish, "I was wondering when you opened the presents"...this is tougher for little kids, but it will develop their thinking, listening and speaking skills AND give the writer good feedback. I found that if I commented on punctuation or spelling the kids would do that also. Then your sharing turns into editing!
    The Write Handed Teacher