I started work on writing by creating this writing tools anchor chart with them. This idea and the pieces for this anchor chart came from Kim Adsit's I Can Write unit. I chose the tools from Kim's unit that we were going to use in our classroom and only introduced those. With each tool that I added we physically walked to the place where we could find that tool. We practiced this for several days and I still refer to the chart at the beginning of work on writing each day.
I also created this anchor chart with my class. Since we have been in school awhile I did not introduce the chart as though they had an option of which type of writing they wanted to use, but rather I spoke about the three ways as if I wanted to see them all. This anchor chart also came from Kim's I Can Write unit.
I forgot to take a picture of my own class chart. I will add it on Monday. Here is a copy from Kim's unit for now. I cannot stress enough how helpful all of Kim's anchor charts have been- not just from this unit, but from all of her units that I have purchased. Making these charts with my students, referring to them daily, and leaving them posted as a reference has really increased my students learning and their retention of the information I taught.
For the first week or so we wrote all together each day. I modeled writing a sentence and they wrote it with me. I had them tell me how to spell words and when to use a spaceman. Then we drew the picture. I wrote sentences that consisted mostly of words from our word wall and only one or two words they needed to phonetically spell. I did this to support them as writers. I did not want anyone getting into a habit of just scribbling in their writing journal. I wanted even my lowest performing students to be able to string some words together even if they did not make a lot of sense.
I am using large black clips to hold their place each day.
We share our writing with each other or as a class each day. Right now I have all of them share because I want to encourage the writing behaviors that I want them to use and break down those that I do not. Each day I stress how we are all learning, practicing, and growing ourselves as writers. They know not to ask "How do you spell?" I constantly remind them of all of the strategies they have to spell words. I model this daily in interactive writing too. Sharing is a little time consuming right now, but I think it is really helping. They seem to be getting more independent and better each day. Sometimes we share with partners and sometimes as a whole class.
After a week or so of modeling writing for them and doing it with them I released them to write on their own. We have been writing on our own for about a week now. Most of my students are writing a sentence. Some of them are stringing word wall words together and putting space between words is still something we need to work on, but they can already sit and write for 15 minutes of writing stamina.
At first we all sat at our tables and wrote. After we wrote like this for several days I let them start choosing their writing spots just like they do for read to self. They know to go and get their marker and journal from their cubbie and their box from their table. They also know if they forget something they need then they simply go and get it without saying anything. If they need to walk over to the name wall or the word wall they just do it and do not talk about it. They know that as long as they are working on their writing in some way that they are not breaking stamina.
I plan to keep us all reading to self and working on writing at the same time for a little while. I want to build up their writing skills a bit before I add another dimension to this round. They still have choice in where they want to write and what they want to write about so they are engaged and excited about what they are doing.
Next week I plan to make Kim's anchor chart about what good writer's do and how writer's can help the reader. I also plan to continue working on sentence structure. I model this in all subject areas everyday in whole group writing, not just during work on writing time.