Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Top Ten Writing Tips

Hi friends!
Today I am talking about one of my favorite subjects: WRITING!!
Over the years I have taught both Kindergarten and 1st grade and have tried a variety of different writing tricks and tools out in my classroom. I love giving my students lots of opportunities to write in the classroom, and in a variety of different ways. I am in no way a writing expert… There are TONS of great ideas out there. The tips I'm here to share with you are what has worked in my classroom in both the K & 1st grade setting.

Tip number 1:
In my classroom, my students love writing stories together. This is especially fun after we've read a story, or if we are practicing how-to writing! To help build flow and order in writing, I use the "sandwich analogy" with my students. We talk about how writing needs to have an opening & closing sentence (the bread of a sandwich), and then 3-4 details inside, like the parts of a sandwich!
We do a lot of writing this way together that is very closely guided. The students write on the sentence strips, but we practice sounding out words together and using sight words when we write. 
When each student writes, they put the sentence strip under the Elmo/document camera, so that the rest of the class can help them spell words. 

I leave up our shared writing on the pocket chart so that students can refer back to it. They are so proud of our class stories! 

Tip number 2:
My 2nd tip is all about teaching good sentence structure! I start off the year teaching my students to write a "super star sentence." They use our sentence writing characters as a reference to remember what a sentence needs to include:
These characters have been a big hit in my classroom! I love to hear the students refer to them when they are writing. We keep reviewing these characters with practice worksheets throughout the school year too! 

Another activity we do to practice sentence structure is our sentence builder worksheets during morning work:
My students also work on sentence structure during centers:
They love playing this clothespin game to practice ending marks. I sometimes print these cards on one page, and put them in a dry erase sleeve so students can practice them again and again! 
I have found that by really focusing on the components of a good sentence throughout the whole school year, my students become very confident writers! 

Tip number 3:
My 3rd tip is something that I'm sure A LOT of teachers already do: collect a monthly writing sample. I found that if you plan to commit to collecting just one formal writing sample each month, it is really easy to create a memory book for students at the end of the year. 
My students write about their favorite event from the month, or something that they learned, etc…
Having cute paper is a must too! :) 

And as you collect those monthly writing samples, you need a place to put them, which leads to tip number 4:
I make writing folders for my students with a cover that has all of their favorite things on it! I make the covers on powerpoint, and just insert each student's picture on there as I go. Sometimes all I do to make the folder is fold a big piece of construction paper in half. I glue the cover on the front, and laminate the whole thing. I use a binder clip to attach student's writing on the inside back cover. I like doing it this way so that parents can flip through the writing, but it is still secured to the folder with a clip. 
My students have an additional writing folder in their desks:
On the front of their writing folders, I glue our "Super Star Sentence" rubric so that my kiddos can check their sentences as they are writing! 

Here comes tip number 5:
My next tip is all about anchor charts! I LOVE making anchor charts for my students about writing. They refer to these often, and are a great visual. 
I made an anchor chart to go along with our "super star sentences" that hangs in our classroom all year long:
We also have a "Sandwich Writing" anchor chart that we refer to for how-to writing:
I also like to do thinking maps with my kiddos to help them start their writing:
Another great anchor chart idea that I got from my friend Emily at Polka Dots Please was to make an anchor chart for topic and opening sentences:
We write our topic on a post-it note, and then use it to fill in the blank! I love that this chart is re-usable!

Tip number 6:

My 6th tip is all about using structured templates for writing. As I worked on "sandwich writing" with my students this year, I found that they were very successful when they used a pre-writing worksheet to organize their sentences:
They write their opening and closing sentences by the stars, and then the details go where the blank boxes are. I use this same template all year long, and my students respond really well to the consistency of it! 
Usually when we write our opening and closing sentences, we do some examples together. My students also use our anchor charts if they get stuck! 

Tip 7:

The next tip is all about story writing and journaling! 
I started using "story starters" with my students this year as a way to help them be more creative and express themselves:
In the picture above, I had my students brainstorm their story topic and write it on a post-it note. Then they picked a story starter and got started on their creative writing! 
I also made a story writing center for my students:
They loved going to this center. They got to pick a story starter and topic from the tins to help them get started on their writing:
I also make monthly journals for my students to practice their creative writing:
Story writing was a HUGE hit in my classroom this past year! I loved watching my students use their imagination and just write for fun:

Tip number 8:

My next tip is all about motivating students to want to write! I put special pencils and colored pencils in my writing center as a treat to my students to use only when they are writing. 
At the end of the school year, I also reward students for their good behavior by letting them use a super star pencil for the day:

Tip number 9:

Tip number 9 is all about my seasonal word walls! I change my word walls out seasonally or monthly in my classroom. I love how they brighten up my classroom, but these are also words that my students love to use when they are writing:
I often get asked why the words on the word wall start with capital letters… I like the way that it looks, and train my students early on to only use lowercase letters when they are putting these words in their writing. It has never been an issue or problem in my classroom. :) 

Tip number 10:

My last tip for you is to use writing rubrics! I like to give rubrics to my students and have them check their writing before they turn it into me:

My students use the sentence writing rubric on their writing folders to check their sentences as well:

Thank you SO much for stopping by and reading my tips. I would love to know if you do anything similar in your classroom! 

A lot of my writing templates & anchor charts that I talked about can by found in my Writing Bundle on TPT:

You can also buy any of these packs individually. 

I also have a fun writing freebie for you with some fun templates and basic writing pages: