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Monday, October 7, 2013

Teaching Points Lead to Authentic and Specific Writing Instruction

Before every single minilesson I teach in writing workshop, I write a statement. It always begins the same way, and I never (not-ever) forget to write it. It begins like this:

Writers...

This statement is a non-negotiable for me because it forces me to boil down the teaching point to something specific and authentic. If I can't complete the statement, then I shouldn't be teaching the lesson. Here are a few of my recent teaching points.

  • Writers decide how to enter a new writing project either through collecting, drafting, or planning.
  • Writers tell stories from their lives. 
  • Writers use capital letters intentionally.
  • Writers use both the inside story and outside story to write a narrative.
  • Writers use their lexical system to figure out the spelling of a word.
  • Writers use their notebooks to find the next thing to write about.
  • Writers tell one time stories from their lives.
  • Writers craft a story instead of reporting a story.

When I have this statement in mind, then I'm able to consider how to make the teaching point "sticky" and I can plan my minilesson accordingly. I also stack my teaching points together to make sure they are aligned with the bigger goals for the unit of study.

For example, in a kindergarten classroom we stacked these teaching points together for an oral storytelling unit to launch writing workshop.

  • Everyone has a story to tell.
  • Writers tell stories from their lives.
  •  Writers can tell stories about one time their families.
  • Writers can begin stories with the words, "One time."
  •  Writers can tell stories about one time with a friend.
  • Writers tell parts of stories using the words, One time...then...finally."
  •  Writers can tell stories about one time with an animal.
  • Writers can tell the exciting part of the story by using the word, "Suddenly."
  • Writers can tell stories by using their fingers to remind them of one time...then...then...suddenly...finally.


Here is a card I made as a concrete reminder for students to tell stories with different parts. I took a photo of it before I added felt dots to each finger to make it more tactile and interactive for students to touch each finger while telling their own stories. We could also send them home with students to encourage oral storytelling outside of the school (and give parents a tool to help tell stories at home).

What about you? What were some of your recent teaching points with the writers you work with? I think it would be fun for us to make a collection of teaching points in the comments. Go ahead and add one -- you can even make it up right now!

9 comments:

  1. Writers can educate their audience on the topics that are important to them through their writing. (This was my introduction to our first mini-research unit.)

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  2. Writers use specific vocabulary to enhance their stories.

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  3. Writers collect favorite parts of books they read so they can learn how other writers write.

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  4. Writers revise to balance details--taking out the unimportant ones.

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  5. Writers zoom in on a moment in time.

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  6. Writers support each other with constructive comments.

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I {heart} comments. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.