#TCRWP: Day 3 Writing Institute 2015

writing workshop

This is the third in a series of posts about my learning at the Teachers College June Writing Institute.  Day 1 is available here.  Day 2 is available here.

DAY 3

Developing a Narrative Writing Toolkit (K-2) Celena Larkey

Writing Workshop

Goal:  Writing drafts using all we know about powerful narrative.

Process

  • Read through the examples in my notebook.
  • Mark one to explore again.
  • Reread that one.
  • Box out a line or phrase to use.

Begin with that phrase or line.  Close my notebook and then draft. (YES, close the notebook, begin with that small moment and draft AGAIN!)  Focusing on this idea of revision will keep students from “recopying when they are in the revision step” of the writing process. Students CANNOT copy when the notebook is closed.

While Writing – Tell a little, draft a little (rinse and repeat) . . . and then find a spot to stop and reread your own writing. Ask yourself, “Am I including conflicting emotions (happy and yet bittersweet moment) that fit my plan for writing?” (If check while writing, development of both flows more evenly.)  IF yes, continue on; IF not, go back and add in to your writing NOW.

TIPS FOR DRAFTS:

  • Write on one side of the paper.
  • Write on every other line.
  • Use colored drafting paper (Very visible – feels important and very special!).

Tips for Narrative Endings (Choose one):

  • End it quickly (most narratives last two pages too long)
  • End it with a strong emotion
  • Leave the reader wondering
  • Set the reader up for a surprise ending
  • Circular ending – weave back to the first line of the story

Stop / Pause / Think

What are you going to do differently in writing workshop?

How will you know if it’s working?

Using the Best, New Children’s Literature as Mentor Texts:  Support Sky High Writing (3-8)  Shana Frazin

Today’s Big Learning Points centered around Crafting Teaching Points and Mini-Lesson Tips

Crafting Teaching Points 

crafting a teaching point

Further Development and Planning

Consider the question that precedes the prompt that was listed in the chart above:

  • What – What is the skill, habit or quality of good writing? “Today I want to teach you that . . .”
  • How – What is the step by step process? – “We can do this by . . .”
  • When / Where – Students may be doing this but not at the right time so you may use “Writers usually do this when . . .”
  • Trouble – What is the predictable trouble that I envision for my class? ”Remember . . .”  or “One thing to pay attention to . . .” “When I do this . . .”
  • Why – What is the purpose for this mini-lesson? – “This matters because . . .”

It’s summer time and it’s time to re-examine your mini-lessons.  How effective are they?  How do you know?  Consider the use of a “Demonstration Sandwich”!

Quick mini lesson tips

Connection

Engage …in the work!

Connect – this year, previous years, life

Name the TP

Teach

Demonstration Sandwich (Before the demo“you need to watch me do …”(bread), demo – really do it (meat/protein), and then “Did you notice how I . . .?”(bread))

Active Engagement

Set-Up – How students will practice the skill from instruction

Monitor and Coach – “A teacher on her feet is worth a hundred teachers in their seats.” @drmaryhoward

Link

Assignment, Repertoire, Managed Choice – The three most important words are “Off you go!” It’s the practice that students need. Remember “under – practiced” from last year!

Stop / Pause / Think

How does this  match up to your teaching points?

How does this match up to your mini-lessons?

What might you consider doing differently?

clock1

Closing Workshop:

Raising the Level of Literary Essays by Raising the Level of Interpretation (6-8) Katy Wischow     @kw625  

I had a hard time choosing a closing workshop as there were several that I REALLY needed to attend.  But last week during a class, we really struggled with defining a thesis so I thought this might be a good place to grow my knowledge.  GUESS what?  Literary Essays and Raising the Level of Interpretation does NOT have to be BORING!!! So helpful to have some easy and energizing ways to get middle school students (and their teachers) INTO the work.

Poem Used:

To a Daughter Leaving Home

Linda Pastan

When I taught you
at eight to ride
a bicycle, loping along
beside you
as you wobbled away
on two round wheels,
my own mouth rounding
in surprise when you pulled
ahead down the curved
path of the park,
I kept waiting
for the thud
of your crash as I
sprinted to catch up,
while you grew
smaller, more breakable
with distance,
pumping, pumping
for your life, screaming
with laughter,
the hair flapping
behind you like a
handkerchief waving
goodbye.

  • Has the trajectory for literary essay flattened at grade 6 or 7?

  • Are kids phoning in their essays?  (on autopilot?)

  • Do you get a 10 page retell of Harry Potter?

Then you will need strong reading work in order to get strong writing work.  “Three big problems kids tend to have with literary interpretation…That drastically impact their literary essay work

  1. Kids have nothing to say about the text.
  2. Kids have cliches to say about the text.
  3. Kids don’t have enough to say about the text.”

Use a common text that is accessible for the students.  All of our work was done with the above poem.  Here are some possible solutions for those three big problems:

1. If nothing to say:

  • take away the requirement for paragraph responses
  • show students other visual representations – let them “choose” another way to show understanding
  • use a write – around focusing on a quote or picture that represents the poem
  • dramatize with frozen scene – act it out

2. Kids have clichés to say about the text

  • create metaphors from pictures the teacher has collected from google images
  • use pictures to create new images
  • lift a line and connect the line to your big idea

3. Kids don’t have enough to say about the text

  • Choose cards from the writing craft techniques
  • Choose goals cards
  • Use the language from the cards to annotate the text
  • Explain how the author used a technique to support a goal

Stop / Pause / Think

What fun, easy, and effective way will you use to raise the level of literary essays?

tcrwp three

Thank you for reading #TCRWP:  Day 3 Writing Institute 2015!

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11 responses

  1. Wow-wow! Celena’s tips are useful for ANY writer!

    Even though I was in Shana’s class your work here lifted my level of understanding.

    And Katy’s tips make the interesting but difficult parts of writing lit essay more accessible. Thank you Fran! Can’t say that enough!

    1. Julieanne,
      It seems like “once” is never enough. I think the power of conversation and collaboration is vastly under-valued and practiced for students and teachers. Love both the quality and accessibility of the TC staff – so helpful to be able to ask questions to deepen the understanding!

      You are so welcome! Love this learning journey together!

  2. Wow! It’s going to take time to unpack this thinking, Fran. Lit essays are SO hard to teach for all the reasons you name. The biggest hurdle is always giving kids the chance to formulate their own thoughts and figure out what THEY want to say. So much layered teaching and mentor work must happen first. Thanks, Fran, for your detailed notes!

    1. Tara,
      I was never EVER taught how to write any essay while in K-12 public schools so I appreciate the fact that although instruction for kids may be hard (requires thinking), it doesn’t have to be boring and formulaic ALL the time!

      REALLY! Who wants to read even 25 essays that all say the same thing? So knowing that their are some predictable problems in advance seems to provide some up front instruction to avoid those common potholes! We’ll see! Thesis statements stumped teachers last week so we’ll see where this learning takes us!

      1. We teachers are our own worst enemies. We think in formulas and teach in formulas- which works in math but NOT in literature
        . Tom Newkirk’s book does a wonderful job of illuminating this problem.

      2. Yes, Tom does! One of my favorite #NCTE14 quotes is that the “hamburger paragraph is an insult to writing and an even bigger insult to a hamburger!”

  3. Hi Fran,
    Thank you so much for sharing your learning. I look forward to reading your blog each morning!! What are some of the new books that are being recommended to support our writers?

    Thanks for sharing,
    Kathy

    1. OMG – the list of books is another whole blog post – probably this weekend. I’m learning and seeing more all the time!

      You are so welcome! Learning is meant to be shared!

  4. I’m so glad you subscribe to the theory that learning is meant to be shared! What a treat each day to discover new ways of thinking. I don’t think I was ever taught essay writing, so you have helped to bring it more into focus. 🙂

    1. Themes, essays, interpretation – I vividly remember that first college paper! OUCH! And that is a memory almost back to black and white TV days! LOL

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

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