Monday, October 15, 2012

A Little Note about Writing...

 Hello, all!!  It has been soooo long since I put up a new post on my blog!  I've been so engrossed in learning about my new position, and trying to do it well, that I have neglected the usual things that give me joy!  Updating this blog is one of them!

I am really growing into my new position as a Campus Instructional Specialist.  It's been challenging...I now deal with grades 3-5, instead of just fourth, so I have had to become familiar and comfortable with the different curricula.  The bonus side:  I no longer have grades or papers to grade!  My weekends are a lot less stressful because of it!!  I get to see the ways different teachers do their thing and I've seen a lot of great lessons and ideas!  The negative side:  I miss working with students, every day and on a regular basis.  That being said, I have had the chance to model lessons for a couple of teachers.  The student interaction has been wonderful!

Well...enough about me!! On to my reason for posting!!

Writing is one of my favorite subjects! (Go figure!) It's always come easy to me...the grammar, the vocabulary, the structure... I love putting ideas on paper.  I've always dreamed of being a writer...I even began a book, adding things over the last couple of years. (It's a work-in-progress, though.  It will probably never see the light of day!)  But it's fun and it's mine! Haha!  Anyway, I also love teaching writing.

Our district curriculum focuses on using Units of Study by Lucy Calkins .(This link will take you to Amazon.) Lucy is the be-all, end-all writing guru.  While I find her units difficult to follow, the ideas and methods used are solid. It's based on great ideas, if you can manage the fluff. But, that's just my lowly opinion.

I believe writing can be taught as a method.  There are steps to writing, especially with beginning writers.  When writing is taught methodically, students begin to pick up a pattern for composing a piece, whether it be a narrative, expository, how-to, etc.  We all learned to do this, in some form or fashion, when we were in school!  (Remember outlines?????)

I've had the chance to model narrative compositions for third graders (based on Lucy's units).  The group I am working with began their planning page with a "storyboard".  I love using the term; I told students how storyboards are used by the creators of their favorite movies!!!  Despicable Me, Finding Nemo...all of those movies began with a storyboard!!

Students drew pictures in student-made boxes for a story that they wanted to tell.  Then, out to the side of the box, they wrote about what the boxes were trying to show.  The next day, students used a green pencil to add to the picture...then to the sentences.  (See the pattern?? Picture..sentence...picture...sentence...)  The green pencil idea came from the teacher I am working with...she had students use green to show that they are "growing" their composition!!! Neat, huh?

Since I don't have my own classroom this year, I made an "example" so you can get an idea of the pattern...

Tomorrow, we plan to put our "storyboard" onto paper without the pictures. We will edit/revise from that copy (sloppy copy, rough draft, ...).  We will then make a final copy.

We are doing one step each day, so that students can work without pressure.  My hope is that when they revisit narratives, this process will be part of their routine.

I promise (to myself) to get back on the blogging track!  Oh...and back on the blog-hopping track, as well!!

What is written without effort is in generally read without pleasure.
–Samuel Johnson



  1. The storyboard is a great way to get students thinking and adding details to their writing. We have been working on comparative essays. Students brainstorm and then transfer their info. Into a flee map and then finally work on their rough draft. Have you seen the anchor chart on Pinterest about revising and editing using "cups" and "arms"? It is awesome!

  2. Great ideas! Yes I have seen CUPS and ARMS!!! It's actually from the anchor charts on my blog! I used them regularly in the classroom!


  3. Such great ideas! I am a new Teaching and Learning coach this year which is similar to an instructional coach. I can relate to much of what you shared. We have taken on balanced literacy this year and want to share you ideas with my teachers.

    BTW- We Boo'd you. Stop by our website to check out the details. :)
    Antoinette and Emily