3 Things To Consider When Planning A Writing Program For Your Classroom
Not sure where to begin planning your writing program? There are three things you need to consider:
- the materials you want students to use,
- how to organize the materials, and
- what the program itself will look like.
This blogpost will walk you through the planning process.
There are a number of materials to consider when planning your writing program. These materials include:
1. Writing Materials
Think about the materials you want to use with your students and where you'll keep the materials. Ask yourself:
- Where will I store the writing materials?
- Will I have a writing corner?
- Will my students keep their materials in their desks or in bins?
2. Writing Folders
If you plan to use writing folders with your kids ... think about:
- What will my students keep in their writing folders?
- Will they store graphic organizers in their folders? ... draft copies? ... final copies?
- What support materials will my students need in their writing folders?
3. Writing Notebooks
Writing notebooks are a great option to consider. Ask yourself these questions:
- What will my students use writing notebooks for? Rough copies? Good copies?
- How many notebooks will my students need?
- Will I have my students keep interactive writing notebooks to record what they learn from our mini-lessons and/or writing talks?
4. Writing Duotangs
Writing duotangs are another great option to include in your writing program. Think about:
- What could my students keep in their writing duotangs?
- Would duotangs work for the different stages of the writing process?
- Will my students need assessment and goal setting duotangs for writing?
5. Writing Binders
Hmmm... binders are another option to consider. If you use binders consider these ideas:
- Will my students need dividers in their binders?
- Do I have somewhere to store individual binders in my classroom?
- What will my students keep in their writing binders?
6. Spelling Dictionaries
Spelling dictionaries can be a useful resource to students when writing. If you decide to use spelling dictionaries, you'll need to decide:
- Will my students use a beginner dictionary?
- Will my students have personal dictionaries?
- When will I encourage my students to use dictionaries? ... at the pre-writing stage? ... when they draft their stories? ... at the revising and editing stage?
Decide on the materials you want your students to use during your writing program and then move on the organization section.
Organization looks at your classroom. There are three areas to consider when organizing your classroom writing program.
1. Writing Corner
Having a writing corner ... or cupboard ... or shelf to keep all the writing materials for your classroom is something you might want to consider. Think about:
- Will I have a writing corner in my classroom to store writing materials?
- What else will I need in my writing corner?
- Can students meet to conference in the writing corner?
2. Work on Writing
Another factor to consider is where students will work on their writing projects. Ask yourself:
- Where can my students work on their writing?
- Do they need to sit at their desk or table?
- Can my students work on their writing wherever they want in the classroom?
3. Writing Tools
There are a number of different tools students can use when writing their stories and reports. Think about these questions:
- Will I require students to write using pencils and paper?
- Can my students use computers, laptops, ipads, and tablets for all or part of the writing process?
- Is voice typing an option for my students?
Make the decision of how you'll organize your classroom and store the materials so they'll be easily accessible by your students. Once you've decided on the organization of your classroom, move on to making decisions about your writing program.
The final area to think about is your writing program. Your writing program will be the key factor in how your students develop their writing skills. There are many different factors to consider when planning your writing program.
1. Mini Lessons or Writing Talks
Mini lessons and writing talks are a great way to introduce different writing skills and concepts to your students. Ask yourself:
- Will I begin each writing class with a mini lesson or writing talk?
- How will I decide on the topics for the mini lessons or writing talks?
- Will I follow a set sequence of topics or will I base the topics for my mini lessons or writing talks on the needs demonstrated by my students?
2. Daily Journal Writing
Daily journal writing ensures students will write every day. Think about:
- Will I include daily journal writing in my teaching schedule?
- If yes, how long will our journal writing sessions be?
- Will my students choose their own topics or will I assign topics to students?
3. Writing Ideas
Kids can get hung up on thinking about what they should write about. Ask yourself:
- How will my students come up with writing ideas?
- Will I provide students with a choice of writing topics?
- Will my students come up with their own writing topics?
4. Sharing Writing
Kids can learn about writing by sharing their writing and by reading or listening to other students share their writing. Think about:
- How will my students share their writing?
- Will my students share their writing with a partner? ... in small groups? ... as a class?
- Is there a way my students can share their writing with another class?
5. Assessing Writing
Knowing what students need is an important part of the planning process. As you think about assessing student writing, ask yourself:
- How will I assess student writing?
- Will I ask students to assess their own writing? ... the writing of their peers?
- Will I use self-assessments, peer assessments, teacher assessments, and/or rubrics?
6. Goal Setting
Writing might be a good fit for students to work on goal setting. Think about goal setting by asking yourself:
- Do I want my students to set writing goals?
- If yes, how will my students choose their goals?
- Will I provide students with lists of writing goals?
7. Conferencing With Students
It can be hard to conference with students but conferencing can be a valuable part of your students' development as writers. Think about:
- Will I conference with students individually? ... in small groups?
- When will I meet with students?
- Will I be the one to decide what student I want to conference with? ... or can my students request a conference?
8. Writing Projects
Think about the writing projects you want your students to complete. Ask yourself:
- Will my students work through a writing project as a class or will I use a writer's workshop approach?
- Do I want all my students working on each stage of the writing process at the same time?
- Will I let students who finish one project move on to another project even if the rest of the class hasn't finished the first project?
9. Finished Projects
Think about when your students finish their writing projects and consider:
- Will I let students share their finished writing projects with the rest of the class?... their parents? ... the rest of the school?
- Where I post finished projects on a bulletin board or put pictures of finished projects on a class website?
- Will students keep finished writing projects in a writing folder? ... a binder? ... a portfolio? ... or in page protectors?
Decide on how you'll present your writing program to your students and create the space you need in your classroom.
More information about planning a writing program, along with 103 other planning ideas, teaching strategies, classroom routines, and writing activities ... AND the resources you need to implement the ideas, strategies, routines, and activities ... can be found in Teaching Writing 101.
Until next time,
P.S. Do you struggle teaching writing to your kids? Are you looking for writing tips, strategies and ideas?
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