Children's Writing in both Fiction and Nonfiction Literature: Grades K-5 A Fresh Look at how Writing can be a Practical Activity in your Classroom Tamara T. Williams Tazewell County Public Schools NBCT Appalachian Writing Project Prepared for VDOE/English SOL Institute Fall 2014 Virginia K-12
Set the Example Model a Love of Reading and Writing with Your Students The Six Language Arts Listening Talking Reading Writing Viewing Visually Representing “Effective teachers incorporate opportunities for learning into an integrated language arts program.” (Tompkins,2014)
What We Should Do to Teach Writing (Cullen, 2014)
Gradual Release of Responsibility Adapted from Fielding and Pearson , 1994
Allington identified classroom talk as the most important feature of effective fourth-grade teachers’ classrooms. Allington described classroom talk as respectful, supportive, and productive and not only modeled by the teachers in interactions with students but also deliberately taught. From Richard Allington English/Virginia Standards of Learning K.1 a-e, K.2 a-g, K.3 a-h, K.4 a-e 1.1 a-e, 1.2 a-d, 1.3 a-e 2.1 a-e, 2.2 a-e, 2.3 a-f 3.1 a-e 4.1 a-h 5.1 a-f (Kelley, 2002) Why Talk?
Social Interaction and Purposeful Talk Grand Conversations Read the Book Prepare for the Conversation Have Small-Group Conversations Begin the Class Conversation Continue the Class Conversation Ask Questions Conclude the Conversation Reflect on the Conversation (Tompkins, 2013)
Create a Drawing and Writing Notebook For our Younger Writers A book about looking A book about listening A book about teaching young children the craft of writing “This is not a book about lessons, but about observing children, listening to their stories, studying the work that they put on paper, and using what is learned to inform teaching.” SOLS K.11 a-b, K.12 a-d K.1 a-e, K.2 a-g, K.3 a-h, K.4 a-e (Adapted from Horn and Giacobbe, 2007)
Why is Personal Writing Important? Students use it as a tool for learning Young children develop writing fluency They practice: - handwriting skills - writing conventions (rules and methods) - spelling of high-frequency words (Tompkins, 2013)
Types of Journals (Tompkins, 2013) SOLS K.12 a-c, 1.13 a,g, 2.12 a, 3.9 a,e, 4.7 a,b,e, 5.7 a,c,f,i
Journaling Students use Journals for a Variety of Purposes • Recording Experiences • Stimulating Interest in a Topic • Exploring Thinking • Personalizing Learning • Developing Interpretations • Wondering , Predicting, and Hypothesizing • Engaging the Imagination • Asking Questions • Activating Prior Knowledge • Assuming the Role of Another Person • Sharing Experiences with Trusted Readers (Tompkins, 2013)
Personal Journals • Usually the first type of writing young children do. • Writings consist of life events and other topics of interest. • Writings are usually private in nature • Teacher responds as the interested reader. Dear Diary, Today was not a very good day for me. I broke my brother’s favorite transformer. Should I tell him? I don’t want him to be mad at me, but I will feel bad if I don’t tell him. What a mess! I feel really bad. I will let you know tomorrow what I decided to do. (Tompkins, 2013)
Dialogue Journals • Written conversation with teacher and/or classmates • Provides opportunity for authentic communication • Builds mutual trust and respect • Effective in promoting English learners’ writing development (Tompkins, 2013)
Reading Logs • Explore important ideas • Relate literature to their own lives or to other literature • Think about the book and develop individual interpretations • List interesting words • Record memorable quotes • Jot down notes about characters, plot, or other story elements (Tompkins, 2013)
Double-Entry Journals Divide into two columns • Engages reader to notice sentences/parts that have personal meaning • Can also be divided into “Reading Notes” & “Discussion Notes” (Tompkins, 2013)
Simulated Journals • Assumes the role of another person and writes from that person’s viewpoint • Usually from/about historical figures in the past • Assists students in making connections to what they are learning and what they already know about the character and historical time period (Tompkins, 2013)
Simulated Journal taken from the historical fiction book, Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan What should be in place before this writing piece is collected Ensure a thorough understanding of the genre Encourage other writing opportunities Provide background information about prairie life at the turn of the century Read and discuss the book Use meaningful comprehension questions that encourage higher level thinking Explore and teach necessary vocabulary Read and discuss other stories and books on this topic Incorporate mini-lessons – letter writing, sense of place , character analysis, descriptive language, paragraph construction, tone and voice Writing Topic Pretend that you are Papa. Write a letter to Sarah and ask her to come for a visit. Time period 2 to 3 weeks SOLS Writing 4.7 a-k, 4.8 a-h Reading 4.5 a,b,f,g
Written pieces were collected from grand conversations and comprehension activities What should be in place before these writing pieces are collected Grand conversations/vacation, trips, field trips, day to day activities Other opportunities to write Books and stories that use predictable patterns, demonstrate sequential order, and model descriptive language Meaningful comprehension questions that encourage higher level thinking Vocabulary awareness Various ways to organize a story Mini-lessons –sense of story, sense of place, sequence/ time and signal words, character analysis, descriptive language, paragraph construction, tone and voice, conclusion Writing Topic Write a story about your favorite trip or vacation Write a paragraph describing how you get ready for school Slide before SOLS Oral Language 5.1 a-f, Writing 5.7 a-i, 5.8 a-k, Reading 5.4d,e 5.5 b,c,e,g,h Slide after Oral Language 3.1 a-e, Writing 3.8 Cursive, 3.9 a-g, 3.10 a-j
What should be in place before this writing piece is collected A thorough understanding of the subject Other opportunities to write Food for the student to touch, taste, smell, hear, and feel Additional opportunities for students to have sensory experiences and write and talk about them Vocabulary awareness Mini-lessons – sense of story, sense of place, descriptive language, sensory words, paragraph construction ,conclusion Writing Topic Describe your favorite nighttime snack Time period 1 week Writing collected as part of a sensory language lesson/rough draft SOLS Writing 4.7 a-k, 4.8 a-h, Reading 4.5 a, b, d, f, g
Organizer Sequential Order – Signal Words – First ,Next, Then, Finally 3rd grade
Using Writing to Assist in Teaching Comprehension Strategies Sequence of Events This writing was collected to solidify understanding of sequence (time).
Research Upper elementary student are asked to conduct research. Some students do not have access to materials outside the school to do this type of assignment. Other students need explicit instruction and support to complete the activity. One way to solve this dilemma is to use the nonfiction selections from the reading text as your research pieces. • Use nonfiction pieces from your reading selection • Incorporate higher level questioning techniques as you read • Utilize the graphic organizer that is used during reading as a note taking instrument(KWL or Portrait organizer) • Transfer the organizers after reading to the students’ writers’ notebooks • Create a word wall that is specific to the vocabulary of the nonfiction selection (assists students in spelling difficult words) • Decide what other writing mini-lessons are needed to make this writing activity successful
Writing for Research Writing sample using a portrait graphic organizer collected from the book How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightening by Rosalyn Schanze 4th grade
What should be in place before this writing piece is collected A thorough understanding of the genre Other opportunities to write Background information about Ben Franklin Explore, read, and discuss other books about Ben Franklin Use meaningful comprehension questions that encourage higher order thinking Vocabulary awareness Read and discuss other stories and books about Ben Franklin, inventions, and electricity Mini-lessons – lead lines (quotation lead),genre, surface features of nonfiction, character analysis, descriptive language, paragraph construction, portrait organizer with story details, conducting research, conclusion Writing Topic Write a biography of Ben Franklin using a mentor text/book as your guide Time period 2 weeks Student’s rough draft Oral Language 4.1 a-h, 4.2 a-d, Word Analysis 4.4 c,d Writing 4.7 a-k, 4.8 a-h, 4.9a-e Oral Language 5.1 a-f, 5.2 a-i, WordAnalysis 5.4 a, b, c, e, f Reading 5.6 a-m, Writing 5.7 a-i, 5.8 a-k, 5.9 a-g
The student’s rough draft was reviewed. The following mini-lessons can be incorporated into future writing workshops. Sentence writing Elaboration Paragraph writing Conclusion Punctuation Grammar Capitalization The initial mini-lesson was writing an opener. The student was spot on with his/her definition lead. The student also understood the genre and included a small amount of character analysis. However, the student wanted to list facts instead of developing a written piece. The student did collect sufficient information from the reading selection to construct his/her written piece.
Interview Activity • Good writers ask questions • Nations and Alonso 2001 • Materials needed: Chart Paper and Markers, Interview Questions, Clipboard or Notebooks, Play Phones, Notepads or Paper for the Interview • Mini-lesson • Try to learn about someone in your school • Generate a list of questions • Use another familiar adult to model this activity with you • Ask the other adult the questions • Ask students if they have any questions to add • Record students’ questions on chart paper or white board and then ask the person being interviewed the questions • TALK about how you can use this information to write about this person • Write a paragraph or two with your students to model the writing process • Nations and Alonso 2001
Activity for Students • Research: Phone a Friend • Place the modeled lesson where the students can easily view as they complete this activity • Pair the students and ask them to interview each other • Each student writes a paragraph using their interview results without using names • Bind these descriptions in a class book or big book • Attach a library pocket or flap with the name of the interviewed student underneath • Have students read descriptions and see if they can guess the person • (Nations and Alonso 2001 , pgs. 166-169)
Phone a Friend I talked to: _______________________________ I learned: ________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ • (Nations and Alonso 2001 , pgs. 166-169)
Sample Phone a Friend Questions • What is your name? • Where were you born? • Do you have a pet? Tell me about it? • Where is your favorite place to visit? • What is your favorite food? • When is your birthday? • What is your favorite sport? • Who is your favorite author? • What is the best book you ever read? • What do you like to do for fun? • How long have you been in our school? • What do you like best about our school? • What is your favorite holiday? • What are your family’s special celebrations? • What is your favorite song? • (Nations and Alonso 2001 , pgs. 166-169)
Publish, Publish, Publish! Conduct a public reading in the school library or at a parent meeting Read students’ works to other classrooms Hang students’ written pieces in hallways and in the school library Create a book Perform plays and Readers Theatre scripts from students’ works
Take Away from Today Encourage constructive talk in your classroom Model reading and writing with your students (when your students write, you write with them) Write what you know Let your students see how you think Create writers’ notebooks Utilize journals and quickwrites Use high quality reading material Engage students in the process Utilize materials and resources that are readily at hand Integrate writing activities with the reading text and comprehension activities Publish students’ works “Writing is more than just recording; it is the process of developing a story or idea. It allows us to represent our life experiences and claim them as our own while giving them meaning.” (Calkins, 1994, p.4)
Bibliography • Calkins, L.M. (1994). The Art of teaching writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Cullen, R. (2014). Teaching Writing Is Hard Enough: Stop Doing Dumb Things. Reading Today , 30. Dorfman, L., & Cappelli, R. (2009). Nonfiction Mentor Texts: Teaching Informational Writing Through Children's Literature,K-8. Portland: Stenhouse. Fielding, L., & Pearson, P. D. (1994). "Reading Comprehension: What Works?". Educational Leadership , 51.5:62-67. Harvey, S., & Goudvis. (2008). Primary Comprehension Toolkit: Teacher's Guide. Portsmouth: Heinemann. Horn, M., & Giacobbe, E. (2007). Talking, Drawing, Writing: Lessons for our Youngest Writers. Portland: Stenhouse. Kelley, M. C. (2002). "Best Practices in Writing Instruction: Teachers' Report of Writing Instruction at a High Performing Elementary School". (Doctoral dissertation, University of Delaware) Nations, S., & Alonso, M. (2001). Primary Literacy Centers: Making Reading and Writing Stick! Gainesville: Maupin House. Tompkins, G. (2013). Language Arts: Patterns of Practice. Boston: Pearson.
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