Why I write:
To deepen my understanding
To check my understanding
To analyze my thinking
To share my learning
To be a model for teachers and students and
To experience the JOY of a community . . .
Those are some of the reasons I write.
(And as soon as I hit “publish” I will think of at least 10 other “better”reasons that I wish I had thought of during the three days that I worked on this draft!)
Do these steps look familiar?
But do they match your current reality in your writing?
Do they match your current reality in your writing instruction?
I’ve been spying on my writing for over a year . . . literally in search of patterns that I could identify in my own writing. Trying to decide on that next big goal for myself – ambitious or “doable”? . . . lofty or practical?
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as finding a pattern, setting up some demos and “off you go” because writing is complicated.
Steps are added or revised . . .
If I have to stop and research.
If I have to completely scrap my draft because it is really so pathetic.
If I have to continue my “search for a topic”.
If I have to . . .
So here are some resources,
Quite literally, some food for thought!
Because all of these relate to just one simple standard in writing and yet this standard (and its intent) are often overlooked in a search for a priority or a way to reduce/simplify the writing standards!
“CCR. W.5. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.”
A previous blog post that connected to this standard is in the 2014 archives here!
Planning – Where does an idea come from? – my blog post
Celebrate Celebrating – a blog post from Julieanne Harmatz (grade 5)
Learn by Writing – Lynne Dorfman’s blog post
Helping Students Plan their Writing – a blog post by Melanie Meehan
Using Technology for a Kindergartner’s Writing Process – a blog post by Melanie Meehan
Introducing a Hierarchy of Writing Goals – a blog post by Jennifer Serravallo
Goal Setting – my blog post
Drafting: Beginnings (somewhere – trying more than just one beginning – trying a new approach
The Beginning – my blog post
Strong Leads – Jennifer Wagner (2nd grade)
Drafting – Endings
Behind the Books: The Perfect Ending – blog post by Melissa Stewart
The Ending – my blog post
Drafting – Telling a Story Bit by Bit
Celebrating Story – blog post by Julieanne Harmatz
Drafting – Organization, Elaboration, and Craft
Elaboration Strategies for Information Writing Dig- Two Writing Teachers
Text Structures – blog post by Melissa Stewart
Specific Examples of the Power of Three – Stacey Shubitz
First Graders Get Crafty – Dana Murphy
DigiLit Sunday: Craft – blog post by Margaret Simon
Revising as part of the Process – blog post by Melanie Meehan
No Monkeys, No Chocolate: 10 year Revision Timeline – blog post by Melissa Stewart
Editing as a part of publication
Editing Sticks – my blog post
Editing – my blog post
- Editing stations for upper grades – Shana Frazin informed
- Daily light editing – Shanna Schwartz informed
Revising or Editing? – my blog post
Fun tool – Eye Finger Puppets (Amazon or craft stores) – Make editing time special and reminds the reader and the writer to pay close attention to the work!
Reading Units of Study Mini-Lessons
MiniLessons are strong invitations to learning! (TCRWP_
Reading and Planning MiniLessons – Rachel Tassler
A Short and Sweet MiniLesson Format – Two Writing Teachers
How to Plan a MiniLesson from Scratch – Two Writing Teachers
There are More Ways than One to Plan a MiniLesson – Two Writing Teachers
How to Read a Unit of Study – Two Writing Teachers
Fundamentals of Writing Workshop – Two Writing Teachers Blog Series August 2017
Share Time in Writing Workshop – Lynne Dorfman’s blog
Choice in Writing Workshop – blog post by Tara Smith
(Almost) Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Partnerships I Learned in Kindergarten – blog post by Shana Frazin
Why I Write – Stenhouse Blog
Mentor Texts – Books that would be nice to have as Resources
Craft Moves: Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts – Stacey Shubitz (Stenhouse)
Writers are Readers: Flipping Reading Instruction into Writing Opportunities – Lester Laminack (Heinemann)
Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature (2nd etition)- Dorfman & Cappelli (Stenhouse)
Learning from Classmates: Using Student Writing as Mentor Texts – Lisa Eicholdt (Heinemann)
What;s Your Plan?
What are you going to do NEXT?
Today’s best draft, (Kelly Gallager)
This post I wrote to organize!
Jack Gantos was the featured keynote today during the TCRWP June 2016 Writing Institute. And he ended with
“See the stories and be the person who can write the story.
If they can write them, YOU can write them, too!!!
What a challenge!
If they (the students in your classrooms / your buildings) can write them,
YOU (all the adults in the auditorium – teachers, coaches, administrators) can write them (the stories), too!!!
Do you write?
Do you write on a regular basis?
The questions above were designed intentionally for you to think about your writerly life. How do your students know that you are a writer? Do you demonstrate your own writing? Do you use your own writing in your explanations? How do you “DO” these focused rewrites as Jack Gantos named them? How do you teach them?
The Writer’s Journal: Content, Structure, Rewrites = Success
- Elements from picture books are the SAME elements you find in short stories and that you will also use in setting up your writing journal so you can’t say, “Nothing interesting happens to you!” JG
- Your job when you sit down to write is to press the go button; you want to get words on the paper! JG
- Jack’s writing process: 2 hours 1st draft writing; 2 hours 2nd draft writing and then candy = 2 hours of reading! Another 2 hours of work after the scheduled reading. JG
- Don’t wait to read until the end of the day when you are too tired to remember what you read!
- If stop at physical ending, you will miss the emotional ending – what connects to the reader . . .JG
What Methods Do We Use with Mentor Texts?
Today, I heard Celena, Colleen, and Emily all talk the same language/consistent message about the instructional methods used with mentor texts depending on the purpose/needs of your students.
Demonstration Writing – How to do it step by step
- Has voice over of “how to do it”
- Might begin with a frame
- Shared writing
- Zero shame in using demonstration writing from the Units of Study IF it fits!
- Be aware that not all pieces work as well as others!
Explanation / Example
- Here’s the text and the explanation
- Example of how to take mentor text and put it into action
- Not step by step
Inquiry (Colleen Cruz details)
- Powerful in terms of agency and independence
- Learning theory – What student discover on own sticks more!
- Not everything is best taught with inquiry
- Sometimes there is content you need to know
- “Putting your hand in hot oven will burn it – don’t need to learn from inquiry
- That would be irresponsible
- No way to discover strategies – kids will not find boxes and bullets on their own
- Don’t use inquiry if only ONE right answer = allow differences!!
- 3 favorite things to teach during Inquiry
- Inquiry is good for ALL kids!
- Develop task cards
- Combine inquiry with structure/small groups
- Include discussion as rehearsal
Takeaways for Methods of Instruction:
- There is no one method of instruction that works ALL the time for all students!
- Match your Method of Instruction with the needs of your students.
- Check your methods for when you PLANFULLY teach/provide for “transfer work”.
- Consider when students are able to “Do the work themselves”.
- Always consider: “Would the students be better off writing?” Is “THIS” teacher talk time really more important than student writing time?
How do we demonstrate process with mentor texts?
I also heard Celena, Collen, and Emily talk about both the need for as well as how to demonstrate process with mentor texts. This seems easiest with teacher or student texts. But you can also go to Melissa Stewart’s website for a behind the scenes look at the process involved in writing No Monkeys, No Chocolate here. That book was not written overnight!
In Celena’s session today, we actually worked on making our own process mentor texts with a plan for writing, first draft, first draft with some revisions, and draft fancied up!
Takeaways for demonstrating process:
- Physical revision (flaps, post-its, cross-outs, different colored ink) clearly shows that revision has occurred.
- Having “process” pieces that literally show the progression of work is helpful for revision conferences.
- Process pieces that show revision – at all stages of the writing process – keep the focus on continual rereading and revision.
- You need clear expectations for student writing – for yourself as the teacher and also for your students.
- You need a vision for your student writing.
What do you see as emerging themes for the week?
What have you learned this week?
(Internet difficulties again interfered with pictures and the structure of this piece!)
For further reading, writing, response, or reflection:
What are informational texts?
The Common Core State Standards include the following in their definition of informational texts:
biographies and autobiographies; “books about history, social studies, science, and the arts”; “technical texts, including directions, forms, and information displayed in graphs, charts, or maps”; and “digital sources on a range of topics” (p. 31).
That’s a broad range so what does that really mean? Sources that can inform your work include:
Research and Policy: Informational Texts and the Common Core Standards: What Are We Talking about, Anyway? by Beth Maloch and Randy Bomer
6 Reasons to Use Informational Text in the Primary Grades – Scholastic, Nell Duke
The Case for Informational Text – Educational Leadership, Nell Duke
Where can I find lists of Mentor Texts?
Award winning lists include:
Mentor Texts to Support the Writers’ Workshop (Literature and Informational Texts)
This list supports writers’ workshop. Others are readily available on Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers.
What about professional books to help me with Mentor Texts and Informational Writing?
Nonfiction Mentor Texts: Teaching Informational Writing through Children’s Literature K-8 by Lynne Dorfman and Rose Capeli (website)
The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing by Ruth Culham (Chapter 3)
Write Like This: Teaching Real-World Writing Through Modeling and Mentor Texts by Kelly Gallagher (Chapters 3 and 5)
Mentor Authors, Mentor Texts: Short Texts, Craft Notes and Practical Classroom Uses by Ralph Fletcher
Finding the Heart of Nonfiction: Teaching 7 Essential Craft Tools with Mentor Texts by Georgia Heard
and many grade level texts in the separate Units of Study of Writing by Lucy Calkins and friends at TCRWP.
What do I do with the books that I am considering as mentor texts?
Your number one task is to Read informational texts that you also like. And then your second task is to read these books from the lens of a writer. Identify techniques that the author uses very successfully. Third, talk with other teachers about the techniques and goals! To get started consider these helpful blog posts: A brilliantly written blog post on the use of a mentor text during a co-teaching instruction session by Melanie Meehan can be found in this post “Slice of Life Exploring a Fabulous Mentor Text” on the Two Reflective Teachers blog. Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris list “Our Top Eleven Nonfiction Books for Teaching . . . Everything!” here! Clare and Tammy at Teachers for Teachers also have a post titled “Two Great Nonfiction Mentor Texts”. Tara Smith writes routinely about texts. “Mentor Texts” is a recent one. Two Writing Teachers: mentor text archive (You can also search any of the above blogs for additional posts about Mentor Texts!) And three from my blog archives: Reading and Writing Instruction – Paired Mentor Texts #TCRWP Day 3: Information Mentor Texts (based on Alexis Czeterko’s (@AlexisCzeterko ) Closing Workshop “Five Mentor Texts for Information Writing – and Ways to Use Them with Power”) #SOL14: Writing Techniques and Goals
This was a Topic Focus: Informational Texts; Not a Compendium of all available resources . . . Do you have a better idea of the “types of writing” included in the informational category? Did you find some new ideas? Or revisit some old ideas with a new purpose in mind?
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsey for creating that place for us to work collaboratively.
Last week as I finished a PD session for some of my teachers, I was asked by the principal to compile separate lists of Informational Books for grades 3, 4, and 5 so they could be purchased for the staff. So a a “resource-full” individual, I put my question out on Twitter to see exactly which informational titles the members of my PLN would say that they could not live without. And they did not disappoint!
Here are the five books that I shared as a result of Alexis Czeterko’s (@AlexisCzeterko ) Closing Workshop “Five Mentor Texts for Information Writing – and Ways to Use Them with Power”. The variety is incredible and seems to renew teachers’ interest in quality informational texts as well. And then the opportunities for using mentor text to explore writing techniques and goals will quickly expand for all writers who study craft moves while reading!
1. National Geographic – Great Migrations: Amazing Animal Journeys
2. Surprising Sharks by Nicola Davies and illustrated by James Croft
3. No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young
4. The Split History of the American Revolution
5. Elephants by Steve Bloom
Responses to my request for HELP!
Melissa Stewart provided a great list, but I loved the fact that she said these two books were necessities if only two books could be ordered. Do you know Melissa Stewart? If not, STOP, reading and just click on this link NOW!
Boy Who Loved Math – Heiligman
The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest –and Most Surprising Animals on Earth – Steve Jenkins
Melissa stressed that the actual books for a grade level would depend on the content standards currently in place. So keep that flexibility in mind as the goal is NOT to create a perfect list. Instead the goal is to put valuable mentor texts into the hands of the student authors! Check to see which ones you already own and which ones fill gaps in your current collection! (So unless your room is completely empty, you would need to check your current booklist and your standards before blindly purchasing all of these!)
|Vulture View – April Sayre and Steve Jenkins|
|An Egg is Quiet – Dianna Hutts Aston|
|If You Find a Rock – Peggy Christian|
|Plant Secrets – Emily Goodman|
|Feathers Not Just for Flying – Melissa Stewart|
|No Monkeys, No Chocolate – Melissa Stewart|
|The Sun, the Wind, and the Rain – Lisa Westberg Peters|
|Song of Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems – Joyce Sidman|
|Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci – Gene Barretta|
|Planting the Wild Garden – Kathy O. Galbraith|
|A Place for Bats – Melissa Stewart|
|Winter’s Tail – Craig Hatkoff|
|Who Lives in an Alligator Hole? – Anne Rockwell|
|Living Sunlight – Molly Bang|
|Boy Who Harnessed the Wind – William Kamkwamba|
Allison Jackson (@Azajacks), avid reader who also reviews books for the Nerdy Book Club, and teacher of third grade students submitted this list also on Twitter.
|No Monkeys, No Chocolate – Melissa Stewart|
|Locomotive – Brian Floca|
|Balloons over Broadway – Melissa Sweet|
|UnBEElievables – Douglas Florian|
|What to Do About Alice? How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Crazy! – Barbara Kerley|
|Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 – Michelle Markel|
|A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin – Jen Bryant|
|Step Gently Out – Helen Frost|
|Brothers at BatL The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team – Audrey Vemick|
Allison also included any books from National Geographic Kids and any books by Nic Bishop. Additional books for older students included:
Island by Jason Chin
books by John Hendrix
What FIVE informational books would you recommend for students in grade 3, grade 4 and grade 5?
How has your PLN helped you lately? And more importantly, how have YOU helped others in your PLN?
Special thanks Melissa and Allison!