Thursday, August 16, 2012

Launching Writer's Workshop with Growing Third Grade Writers

What I know about writing has to do with where you put your heart.
Nasdijj quoted in Fletcher and Portalupi's The Writing Workshop
Writing with third graders is exhilarating.  They ask unique questions and offer plausible solutions.  They increasingly understand humor and use it to delightfully express their own thoughts and feelings. From their early writing experiences in the primary grades, they gained solid insights about writers and can identify favorite authors.  Many are even able to make thoughtful connections between admired works and their own writing.  Third graders are primed to go deep as writers and take on more grown-up writing practices.  It’s easier to get to the heart of writing because the kids bring so much to “the table.”

After or alongside a diagnostic review of the writing process and Writers’ Workshop rituals, third graders can quickly begin to live the writerly life.  From exploring topic generation strategies to investigating multiple genres for their own drafts such as memoir, letters, journalism, brochures, and poetry and pondering possibilities for readers and audiences, third grader writers are ready to live a bigger writing life. Often, a pivotal journey for third graders is using a writer’s notebook.  As we why and how writers use notebooks with our students, it is easy to witness many “Ah, ha!” moments and/or “I feel so grown up!” struts in our classrooms. 

Whether your launching-the-year efforts include engaging students in writer’s notebooks  journalism, or poetry, the good news is that, most of the time, your students will be ready for all of these opening adventures. And through these early studies, you will get to know your students better and, thus, make excellent decisions about how to sculpt your lesson planning for your own Writers’ Workshop.  

I hope the following opening unit ideas offer you a portrait of possibilities while highlighting key considerations such as expected enduring understandings and what to look for in students’ budding writing.  This stance echoes the advice of Lucy Calkins and her Teachers College colleagues:
Although we're excited about this curricular calendar, we also know that nothing matters more in your teaching than your own personal investment in it. It is critical that you modify this plan as you see fit so that you feel a sense of ownership over your teaching. We do encourage you, however, to work in sync with colleagues from third grade (and perhaps 2nd and 4th grades) so that your teaching can benefit from the group’s cumulative knowledge. Ideally, this will mean that your grade-level meetings can be occasions for swapping mini-lessons, planning lessons in ways that inform your teaching, assessing and glorying in children’s work, and planning ways to respond to their needs.

Together, we can continue to refine this and all third grade units of writing study.  After implementing each unit, as a team and with your students, please reflect on what worked and what we need to revise to our unit “blueprints.”
In the weeks before you begin this first unit of study, draw from your own writing well.  Think about what you do as a writer.  Why do you write?  When do you write?  Begin to record your insights.  What you write down will give you brilliant ways to model, name, and explain writing for and with your students.  If you have kept a writer’s notebook (or something awfully close to it), begin to mark a few pages you can share with your students.  Your launching-our-year-as fellow-writers lessons with your third graders will be edifying to all your students because they authentically come from your writing.

Launching Writers’ Workshop Studies

 The writing you get out of your students can only be as good as the classroom literature that surrounds and sustains it.                                                                                                                                                                                              Ralph Fletcher and JoAnn Portalupi, 1998

Mentor texts to support students’ studies of what writers do and what writers make:
        ·        Amelia’s Notebook by Marissa Moss

·        Arthur Writes a Story by M. Brown

·        Author: A True Story by H. Lester

·        The Best Story by Eileen Spinelli

·        The Boy on Fairfield Street by K. Krull

·        From Pictures to Words by J. Stevens

·        How a Book is Made by ALIKI

·        If You Were a Writer by Joan Lowery Nixon

·        Look at my Book by L. Leedy

·        Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street by R. Schotter

·        On the Bus with Joanna Cole:  A Creative Autobiography by Cole and Saul

·        Regina’s Big Mistake by R. Moss

·        Show Don’t Tell by J. Nobisso

·        Stringbean’s Trip to the Shining Sea by Vera Williams

·        Voices in the Park by A. Browne

·        What do Authors Do by E. Christelow

·        Wonderful Words by L. Hopkins

·        You are an Author and You Have to Write by J. Wong

Mentor texts to detail the work of illustrators/author-illustrator:

·        Art by P. MacDonnell

·        The Dot by P. Reynolds

·        Draw Me A Star by E. Carle

·        Ish by P. Reynolds

·        Little Mouse’s Painting by D. Walkstein

·        The Picture that Mom Drew by K. Mallat

·        What do Illustrators Do by E. Christelow

·        You are an Illustrator:  My Pony by S. Jeffers

Mentors texts to support students’ family memories writing:
      ·        The Baby Sister by Tomie dePaola

·        Chicken Feet in My Soup by Tomie dePaola

·        A Family of Poems:  My Favorite Poems for Children by Caroline Kennedy

·        Imagine a Day by Sarah Thomson

·        Koala Lou by Mem Fox

·        My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen

·        My Rotten Red-Headed Older Brother by Patricia Polacco

·        Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola

·        Now One Foot, Now the Other by Tomie dePaola

·        The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant

·        Snapshots from the Wedding by Gary Soto

·        Tell Me About the Night I Was Born Again by Jamie Lee Curtis

·        Tom by Tomie dePaola

·        Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto

·        Twinnies by Eve Bunting

·        Up North at the Cabin by M. Chall

·        Wednesday’s Surprise by Eve Bunting                                                        

·        When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant

Mentor texts to support students’ school memories writing:
       ·        Amber on the Mountain by Tony Johnston

·        The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola

·        Author’s Day by Daniel Pinkwater

·        A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech

·        First Day Jitters by Julie Dannenberg

·        Science Fair Bunnies by Kathryn Lasky

Mentor text to support students’ friendship memories writing:
       ·        Best Friends by Steven Kellogg

·        Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli

·        Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
Potential Author Studies:

·       Eve Bunting

·       Mem Fox

·       Tony Johnston

·       Arnold Lobel

·       Marissa Moss

·       Mary Pope Osbourne

·       Dav Pilkey

·       Seymour Simon

·       Janet Stevens

·       Jane Yolen

Supportive Internet Resources:

Carol Wilcox (A remarkable writer and passionate reader, Carol shares her recent “best reads” in this delightful blog.  Wonderful source for mentor text ideas.)

Choice Literacy

Columbia University Teachers College 

Debra Fraiser (editing focus)

Guys Read

International Reading Association

Journey North (writing strategies)

               Nonfiction/Factual writing focus:

Kids Read

Mark Overmeyer

Mary Ehrenworth,  Teachers College (especially helpful for parent education)

National Council of Teachers of English/NCTE

National Writing Project

Planet Esme

(mentor text podcast)

Read Write Think    

Reading Rockets

Ruth Ayers

Six Traits                

Six Traits and standards connections as well as anchor paper links and rubric banks:  [The referenced standards are the U.S. Common Core State Standards/CCSS but the parallels could be helpful in making connections to the Ontario ELA Standards.]

Stanford University – Expository Writing

Two Writing Teachers    

Write Brained Teacher

Writing Fix 

Professional Resources:
      ·        Anderson, Carl.  (2005). Assessing Writers.  Heinemann.

o   Chapter Two – Getting Started:  Developing an assessment lens; Chapter Three – Assessing Students as Initiators of Writing; Appendix 1; Appendix 4.

·        Anderson, Carl.  (2000).  How’s It Going? A Practical Guide to Conferring with Student Writers.  Heinemann.

o   If you are new to conferring, this will be an invaluable book to read and study over the summer.  Reading this book with Carl’s DVD collection in Strategic Writing Conferences offers you excellent modeling of edifying conferences.

o   If you have studied with Carl/feel confident about your conferring rituals, make sure to revisit Chapters One – Conferences are Conversations, Two – The Teacher’s Role in the Conference, and Five – Laying the Groundwork for Conferences.

o   If you have concerns or questions about classroom management, study Chapter 7 – What Are All the Other Students Doing?

·        Anderson, Carl.  (2009).  Strategic Writing Conferences: Smart Conversations That Move Young Writers Forward (text and DVD’s). Heinemann. 

·        Angelillo, Janet.  (2008).  Whole-Class Teaching:  Minilessons and More.  Heinemann.

·        Atwell, Nancie. (2007).  Lessons That Change Writers (Text and DVD’s). Heinemann.

·        Ayers, Ruth and Schbitz, Stacey. (2010).  Day by Day: Refining Writing Workshop Through 180 Days of Reflective Practice.  Stenhouse.

·        Buckner, Aimee. (2005). Notebook Know How.  Stenhouse.

·        Calkins, Lucy.  (1994).  The Art of Teaching Writing.

o   Chapters 6 and 7.

·        Calkins, Lucy and Martinelli, Marjorie.  Launching the Writing Workshop, Grades 3-5.  Heinemann.

·        Cruz, Colleen M.  (2004). Independent Writing:  One Teacher – Thirty-Two Needs, Topics and Plans. Heinemann.

·        Cruz, Colleen M. (2008). A Quick Guide to Reaching Struggling Writers.  Heinemann.

·        Culham, Ruth.  [multiple Six Traits of Writing titles]

·        Davis, Judy and Hill, Sharon. (2003). The No-Nonsense Guide to Teaching Writing: Strategies, Structures, and Solutions.  Heinemann.

·        Dorfman, Lynne. (2006).   Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing through Children's Literature, K-6.  Stenhouse.

·        Fisher, Douglas and Frey, Nancy.  (2007).  Scaffolded Writing Instruction: Teaching With a Gradual-Release Framework.  Scholastic. 

·        Fletcher, Ralph.  (2006).  Boy Writers:  Reclaiming Their Voices.  Stenhouse.

·        Fletcher, Ralph.  (1996).  Breathing In, Breathing Out:  Keeping a Writer’s Notebook.  Heinemann.

·        Fletcher, Ralph.  (2007).  How to Write Your Life. Collins.

·        Fletcher, Ralph.  (2000).  How Writers Work:  Finding a Process That Works for You.  Harper Collins.

·        Fletcher, Ralph. (1999). Live Writing:  Breathing Life into Your Words. Harper Collins.

·        Fletcher, Ralph.  (2011). Mentor Author, Mentor Texts: Short Texts, Craft Notes, and Practical Classroom Uses.

·        Fletcher, Ralph.  (2010). Pyrotechnics on the Page: Playful Craft That Sparks Writing.  Stenhouse. 

·        Fletcher, Ralph.  (1992).  What a Writer Needs.  Heinemann.

·        Fletcher, Ralph. (1996). The Writer’s Notebook:  Unlocking the Writer Within You. Harper Collins.

·        Fletcher, Ralph and Portalupi, JoAnn.  (2007).  Craft Lessons.  Teaching Writing K – 8.  Stenhouse.

·        Fletcher, Ralph and Portalupi, JoAnn.  (2001).  Writing Workshop:  The Essential Guide.  Stenhouse.

·        Fountas, Irene and Pinnell, Gay Su.  (2001).  Guiding Readers and Writers (Grades 3-6): Teaching, Comprehension, Genre, and Content Literacy.  Heinemann.

·        Graves, Donald.  *All Don’s titles such as Investigate with Nonfiction, A Fresh Look at Writing, and Quick Writes offer infinite learning-teaching possibilities and they are all deeply good for the soul.

·        Harwayne, Shelley. (2000).  Lifetime Guarantees:  Toward Ambitious Literacy Teaching.  Heinemann.

o   Chapter One - Designing the Literacy Landscape; Chapter Two – Reflecting on the Teaching of Writing; Page 61/60-67 (daily schedule and supportive schoolwide structures); A-6 (author studies).

·        Harwayne, Shelley.  (2001).  Writing through Childhood.  Heinemann. 

o   Chapter Two – Designing Writing Workshops with Children in Mind; Chapter Six - Working with Our Youngest Writers.

·        Hill, Bonnie Campbell and Ekey, Carrie. (2010). The Next Step Guide To Enhancing Writing Instruction:  Rubrics and Resources for Self-Evaluation and Goal Setting.  Heinemann.

o   Chapters 1 and 5 and Appendix A, B, C, D, and E. 

·        Hill, Bonnie Campbell and Ekey, Carrie.  (2010).  The Next Step Guide to Enriching Classroom Environments.  Heinemann.

o   Superb, practical resource as you develop your setting for literacy learning including edifying self-evaluation tools.

·        Hill, Bonnie Campbell.  Supporting Your Child’s Literacy Learning:  A Guide for Parents.  Heinemann.

o   Excellent text to share with parents. 

·        Laminack, Lester and Wadsworth, Reba.  (2006). Learning Under the Influence of Language and Literature. Heinemann.

·        Laminack, Lester and Wadsworth, Reba. (2006). Reading Aloud Across the Curriculum. Heinemann.

·        Lane, Barry.  (2008). But How Do You Teach Writing? A Simple Guide for All Teachers. Scholastic. 

·        Overmeyer, Mark.  (2005).  When Writing Workshop Isn't Working: Answers to Ten Tough Questions, Grades 2-5.  Stenhouse.

·        Overmeyer, Mark. (2009).  What Student Writing Teaches Us: Formative Assessment in the Writing Workshop.  Stenhouse.

·        Ray, Katie Wood.  (2006). Study Driven A Framework of Planning Units of Study in the Writing Workshop. Heinemann, 2006.

o   Pages 38-46 (vision for writing, counting books, travel guide writing), 90 (the role of approximation), and 151 (important considerations for kindergarten teachers and writers).

·        Ray, Katie Wood.  (1999). Wondrous Words. National Council of Teachers of English.

·        Ray, Katie Wood with Laminack, Lester.  (2001). The Writing Workshop:  Working through the Hard Parts (and They’re All Hard Parts).  National Council of Teachers of English.

·        Routman, Regie.  (2000).  Conversations.

o   Chapters 6, 7, 8, and 9. 

·        Routman, Regie (2004). Writing Essentials. Heinemann.

·        Spandel, Vicki.  (2003).  Creating Young Writers: Using the Six Traits to Enrich Writing Process in Primary Classrooms.  Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

Autobiographical and Literary Texts to Inspire Us as Writing Teachers – and as Writers Ourselves!

·        Cameron, Julia.  The Artist’s Way.

·        Cameron, Julia.  The Right to Write.

·        Elbow, Peter.  Writing with Power.

·        Freed, Lynn.  Reading, Writing, and Leaving Home:  Life on the Page. 

·        Goldberg, Natalie.  Writing Down the Bones.

·        Goldberg, Natalie.  The Writing Life.

·        Gordimer, Nadine.  Writing and Being.

·        King, Stephen.  On Writing.

·        Lamott, Anne.  Bird by Bird.

·        Quindlen, Anna.  Being Perfect. 

·        Stegner, Wallace.  On the Teaching of Creative Writing. 

·        Ueland, Brenda.  If You Want to Write.

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