Help! My fourth graders can't write!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by MWMnElmed, Aug 29, 2007.

  1. MWMnElmed

    MWMnElmed Companion

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2007
    Messages:
    116
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 29, 2007

    I teach fourth grade and have a great writing series to use for developing writers. My problem is 2/3 of my class are not developing writers, they are beginners. Most do not know how to write a good paragraph, and they are supposed to be writing stories. This is my first year in elementary, my degree is in secondary ed. How do you teach elementary students the basics of writing a paragraph. I have the hamburger method poster and tried it today, it went okay. I am looking for more ideas, links, whatever to enhance their writing skills. Right now they are not writing well at all.
     
  2.  
  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Messages:
    17,362
    Likes Received:
    46

    Aug 29, 2007

    What is the hamburger method? I'll be teaching 2nd grade again...I know the last school I worked at was big on writing, and didn't really think I did a good job. This sounds great for 2nd.
     
  4. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2006
    Messages:
    9,154
    Likes Received:
    1

    Aug 29, 2007

    I'm not the most qualified, but that never stops me. Try doing a web. Ask them to pick an object or animal. Then draw a picture of that item. Draw a web from it (copy from your example). Write things they know about that item (full sentences). Then the next day ask them to number them in order of how they want to put them on paper. Remind them that they need connecting thoughts. When they master something more simple, move on to picking something more worthy of a hamburger.

    Make an organizer that has a line for topic sentence (explain), then boxes big enough for drawing (supporting details) with lines under it to write what they are drawing and then a line for a conclusion sentence. My son this summer was learning to do hierarchy (story) webs in Powerpoint and he liked learning a computer skill.

    Later you can try the PBJ experiment of a "how to" and so forth.

    Remember they've been out for 3 months. Even my 6th grader, whom I've actually worked with this month, isn't that great at writing yet much less at the beginning of the year.

    Also, try doing a video author peice (tv news?). Have them plan what they would say. Take the pressure off of "writing" and onto structure. Do a peice as a class. Do you have someone to persuade? Have them brainstorm together and take turns writing (maybe 2 different ones if you have a large class).

    What about marketing something. My point is to make writing have a purpose that is exciting to them. Make them want to share. Have them help each other. Do an arts project that cooresponds with their writing peice for display.

    My new 6th grader actually didn't know the 5 paragraph essay. I was suprised. Break it down. I'm always surprised in 1st grade how much we have to break it down so I'm sure a lot of it is the shock of coming from secondary.
     
  5. MWMnElmed

    MWMnElmed Companion

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2007
    Messages:
    116
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 29, 2007

    cutNglue,

    Thank you for your response, you had a lot of great ideas. I am going to copy and paste your response to Word and work from it.

    Kristi Anderson

    The hamburger method is a poster that tells how to make a paragraph. Start with a good topic sentance that tells the reader what the story is about, give three juicy details, and then give a filling conclusion.
     
  6. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2005
    Messages:
    5,363
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 29, 2007

    I do circle maps to think out thoughts and then discuss how in reading class we have main ideas with supporting details in a paragraph. Sometimes students even number the details at first and work on each detail to bring in some sort of imagery.

    My writing students have a grand range this year- to "I can barely write a sentence" or some other struggle (it's a lot of little struggles for some, yet their parents and I have come to a consensus and we're going to work very hard together) to almost masterpieces for the beginning of the year. They will work on form first, of course, yet then they'll be enriched as much as they can!!! This frightens me just a bit.

    I know everyone will be ok... but I decided I am going to work with some a little more outside of the school day because I hope they can have the confidence for fifth grade and beyond. Even for the enrichment group (I'd say about 5 qualify very well right now, and only one is a boy....).... I'll see them a little more as time goes by.
     
  7. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2005
    Messages:
    5,363
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 29, 2007

    .............I just have to differentiate a lot this year, that's all.
     
  8. michelb366

    michelb366 Comrade

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Messages:
    354
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 30, 2007

    We use the step-up to writing program. The kids are taught colors... green is the topic and concluding sentence, yellow is a detail sentence, red is an example. Using the colors you can make 4 sentence paragraphs for beginners or much longer for those more advanced. We do a lot of class writing and modeled writing. We also color-code paragraphs that are good examples. For example:(I used orange instead of yellow so you can actually see it!)

    Football is the best sport ever invented.It allows you to develop your coordination.Before I joined football, I couldn't run and hold a ball at the same time. Football also develops a sense of teamwork. My teammates would do anything to help me on or off the field. My life just wouldn't be the same without the marvelous game of football.
     
  9. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2007
    Messages:
    2,070
    Likes Received:
    233

    Aug 31, 2007

    Just make sure none of your kids are colorblind when you use that technique -- or, for that matter, any color-coding. I'm colorblind, and I know if a teacher had brought that up in elementary school I would have been too embarrassed to say anything on my own. A colorblind child may well panic on being presented that as a technique. Also, some colorblind children may not be aware they're colorblind, so if you you have any suspicion have them tested. I don't know if schools have the tests on hand, but I'm pretty sure administering them is fairly easy.
     
  10. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2006
    Messages:
    9,154
    Likes Received:
    1

    Aug 31, 2007

    My child has some colorblindness. Heck I didn't know he had eyesight or colorblindness until the school caught it. He coped so well.
     
  11. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2005
    Messages:
    5,363
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 31, 2007

    I kind of like that. In a way, it reminds me of Write From the Beginning.
     
  12. CraftyTeacher

    CraftyTeacher Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2007
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 31, 2007

    I highly recommend the Six Traits of Writing (sometimes called 6+1 Traits). It breaks down writing into Ideas, Organization, Voice, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, Conventions, and (sometimes) Presentation. When I was teaching fifth grade that's what my district used and it was wonderful.

    I went through each trait one at a time, spending about six weeks on each one. As you work on the traits you help students by scoring some or all of their writing based only on the traits already covered. You can also show them examples of "good" and "not so good" writing for each trait. This is great because it teaches them to analyze all writing, so it's very easy to tie it into your reading program. All writing is scored with a rubric.

    There are a lot of products you can get to support the program, including special post-its and posters and so on. There are some great sites online that have sample/benchmark papers with scores and explanations. I used these with great success to teach the kids to score their own and each other's writing.

    The Six Traits works with kids of all ages and abilities; as long as they can write a sentence or two it'll work. I haven't been here long enough to post links yet but if you Google it you'll get tons of resources. Good luck!
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. Ima Teacher
Total: 261 (members: 2, guests: 245, robots: 14)
test