#TCRWP – Day 2 Writing Institute 2015

TCRWP Highlights from Day 1 and 2 with Celena Larkey (Develop Toolkits to Support Narrative Writing – Advanced K-2)


“In five days, you will get a good start. You will not be able to say, ‘It’s done!’”

“During this week, we will make and use tools to lift writers’ process, qualities, and behaviors daily.”

Share – “Pay it forward” – share with partner so you can have the idea as well.

Teacher writing folder is not conferring toolkit.

Toolkit is my “wingman” so I can have it if I need it.

A memoir is not just person, place or time because it also includes either:

  • Conflicting emotion time
  • Turning point times

Planning – blank page – try them on and discard (“don’t have to be married to the page”)

Even when planning in 2nd grade: Say, sketch, and then Picture, picture, picture.

Planning – Make it quick; don’t make it good!

Scaffold – only if needed. Don’t have to have something to “leave behind every time.”

Check to see if “it’s sticking first”… If yes, good to go. If not, use scaffold.”

Our schedule for the week:

Monday – narrative

Tuesday – Launching/ Small Moment

Wednesday – Authors as Mentors/ Lessons from the Masters

Thursday – Realistic Fiction

Friday – Fairy Tale and other (adaptations)

If you choose to continue on, you will learn more about:

A. Primary Writing Process (K-2) and Volume of Writing

B. Tiny Topic Journal

C. Marking up a Model Text

Thank you for continuing on .  .  . 

A. Primary Writing Process

k-2 writing process

  1. Gather ideas
  2. Plan your ideas
  3. Write your ideas

Teach how to do the first three steps with ease and automaticity but be mindful of these three parts so students can practice all them! These go very quickly as students will blink and say, “I am done!“

Written pieces are the beginning of the process. You do NOT designate a day for gathering ideas, a second day for planning or a third day for writing. And you also don’t learn how to do this in one day and then you are done and you don’t ever do it again. Think about learning something new like “how to shoot a basket.” You, the learner will NEED lots of practice in order to shoot baskets well. Similarly, pieces by beginning writers will not be sophisticated.

What is the expected volume of writing for primary students?

This should be a focus for primary teachers!

Grade Level Number of Pieces /Each Week
Kindergarten 5 new pieces
First 3-5 new pieces
Second 2-4 new pieces
  1. Revise a lot (Exception in K, if child cannot read back to you – no point in revision)

Revision (re- vision) want to see it with fresh eyes (or new perspective) so it sometimes means the child is starting over. A student needs to revise on many drafts before moving on in the process.

What do K-2 students revise for?

Readability (Language / conventions)



When writing has additional pages, cross outs, revisions start tipping to the side of quality! At this stage behaviors would include: “I can go back, get a revision pen and revise” or “when I start a new book, I would apply my revision in the air.”

Revision can happen on the first day by adding to the picture, a page, or adding on to the ending. At the primary level ADD is synonymous to revision. Students are not really “taking out” much.

AFTER MANY, MANY revised pieces, THEN

  1. Choose 1 piece to “fancy up”! (this is not visible in the picture/it was at the bottom of the chart)
  2. Further Revise
  3. Publish

Stop / Pause / Think

How does this process match up to the process that your K-2 students use?

What is different?

Where might you begin your study of the writing process?

B. What is a “Tiny Topic Journal”?

  • Tiny topic notebook
  • “There is narrative in anything (not the Pulitzer), but yes a story!”
  • Tools for oral verbal work
  • “I tell a part, you tell a part”
  • Small Moment writing ideas will be recorded here.

When might you consider using a “Tiny Topic Journal”?

  • Are your kids writing a summary of their actions?
  • Are your kids just recording information?
  • Are your kids just making a list?

You will need to model how you observe life around you and how you pull ideas from “everyday life” to record in your “Tiny Topic Journal”? This could also be to jot down “current” topics for those of us who are older and tend to revert back to “when I was a child” for our small moments. We need to show students how we find ideas as we live our lives.

Stop / Pause / Think

Do you have students who need to work on “observing” life around them for ideas?

How would a “Tiny Topic Journal” or “Seed Journal” be helpful?

C. Toolkit Text

For the purpose of this work this week a Toolkit Text is that one text, “one book that I use”, that I can pull everything from for conferring. It’s not my “model and teach” stack of books. It’s one book that I have marked up with EVERY single thing that I can teach on the page! The stickies stay on the pages!

The toolkit Text that Celena shared was Goal!

Mentor Text Tips

  • Paperback
  • Put in toolkit

Make mentors

  • Read like a reader
  • Read like a writer
  • Mark it up and keep in toolkit
  • Don’t use your best literature!

The table that we are using looks like this and we used Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat for our mentor text markup.

 Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat – Mentor Text for K-2
What do we see? What do we call it? Why would we use it? Who else tried it?
p. 5 title question Create interest
p.5 “and” Repeated word structure
p. 5 “Henry” Repeated word S – and to show relationship to Henry
p. 5 ‘ apostrophe Possessive – show relationship/connections
p. 5 Henry, father, Mudge Characters Introduce characters
p. 5 “one night” “watching TV” setting Jump into story

I would have all these items marked in my book. They would be color coded by: structure, development, and conventions. And because I work with teachers of many grades I would also have those ideas in mind that I would consider using for an author study of Cynthia Rylant with upper elementary students that MIGHT have these additional boxes for this page.

Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat – Mentor Text for UPPER ELEMENTARY
What do we see? What do we call it? Why would we use it? Who else tried it?
p. 5 Chapter title Hook Create suspense, as a form of foreshadowing, if we haven’t seen the title
p. 5- 3 characters Build relationship between the 3 characters Develop theory of characters – how they will interact
p. 4 picture of family Text/picture match As a part of “show, don’t tell”

The way this looks in my mentor text . . .

Henry and Mudge one

Seventeen words

Seventeen words and we found six things for K-2

Seventeen words and we found three additional things for grades 3-6+

Seventeen words from Cynthia Rylant

Structure – green; Development – pink; and Conventions – blue

Seventeen words

Rich and powerful!

Stop / Pause / Think

Do you have ONE mentor text marked up for your conferring toolkit?

How do you organize your “annotations” in your mentor text?

Thanks to Celena Larkey for this awesome learning at the 33rd Writing Institute at TCRWP!  Errors in this blog are due to “old ears” and “lack of understanding” – not the fine, fine, fine quality of instruction!

18 responses

  1. Thank you for this comprehensive perk into your week on k-2 writing. Although I coach K-5 teachers, I only taught 5th and 7th, so any information I can get on the primary grades is helpful, as that is my focus this summer. Unfortunately, I had to decline my acceptance to June Writing due to surgery. After attending the institute for the last eight years, you can imagine how much I miss it. I appreciate your tweets and blogs, so keep them coming!!

    1. Laurie,
      I find that the background of K-2 expectations is so critical for teachers in grades 3-5 and especially for any “struggling students” as we continue our writing journey! Thanks so much for commenting!

  2. sallydonnelly11 | Reply

    17 may be my new favorite number!!
    Keep blogging. I love learning from TCRWP through you!!

    1. Thanks, Sally!

      I shouldn’t have been surprised. Cynthia Rylant is brilliant. But every two page spread is just COVERED with post-its! One solid mentor text in conferring toolkit is really all that is needed because it does have EVERYTHING!

      For you, you do need to know that we are encouraged to have text that’s comprehensible (is that a word?) for the sake of the students. Maybe your mentor text will not always be “grade 3” at the beginning of the year!

  3. […] TCRWP Highlights from Day 1 and 2 with Celena Larkey (Develop Toolkits to Support Narrative Writing – Advanced K-2) Quotes: “In five days, you will get a good start. You will not be able to say, ‘I…  […]

  4. Love the way smart thinking is so carefully (and in an age appropriate way) embedded in this teaching. Looking forward to learning from you today, Fran!

    1. Tara,
      The “care” and “thoughtfulness” of the teaching at the primary level is so mind-boggling! Love the brilliance that I find at TCRWP. Now I know how people can come back year after year after year!

  5. I’m off to find my copy of Henry and Mudge and collect some post-its. I love this post, Fran. Thank you so much for sharing and inspiring.

    1. Melanie,
      DO IT! Then I want to compare! OMG – tons on every page! I was soooooo shocked! Of course, I’m still wondering if I am “doing” it “right”? LOL

  6. Thank you for this Fran! I am amazed at the quality and length of posts you are able to put together at the end of institute days. We are all very lucky to get to share in your learning.

    1. Anna,
      You are welcome. You will notice that lengths will vary depending on my social life as well. Two shows this week with friends may shorten the posts – but it’s not really about the number of words!

      (Maybe it’s my age also, but I have to “understand” today, before I can clear my mind for the next day’s addition!!!)

      1. So glad you are taking time for entertainment, as well. 🙂

  7. Fran, this is such a valuable post! I’ll be returning to each section in the months to come, but I’ll be sharing the section on creating a “toolkit text” tomorrow. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. You are welcome, Catherine! I’m sure that I just scratched the surface – so much to think about! ❤

  8. […] This is the third in a series of posts from the Teachers College June Writing Institute.  Day 1 is available here.  Day 2 is available here. […]

  9. Once again you have provided a rich resource that I will study. I love the chart with the number of pieces a week and thoughts on revision in K-2. I can see collecting ideas in tiny topic journals and that being the answer to the “I don’t know what to write” problem. Toolkit text, wow! There is so much in books that we don’t see until we really spend some time with it. Awesome ideas shared!

    1. I’m still working on the toolkit text – locating a possible skill is easy but turning it into a strategy on the spot is a bit of a struggle. Glad to be doing this work in a supportive group!

  10. […] #TCRWP Writing here, here, here, here, and […]

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