How do you teach English/writing?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by runsw/scissors, Feb 27, 2008.

  1. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Feb 27, 2008

    I have been teaching English class/writing with a combination of textbook usage and writing projects for years, but I'm really dissatisfied with what the book offers and how the kids are (un)able to make the connections between grammar excercises and usage in writing. I am going to take a hard look at my instruction plans over the summer and try to come up with some sort of year-long plan, but I don't quite know where to start. I generally teach a couple weeks of some grammar unit, then a couple weeks of writing, another grammar unit, and so on. I will throw in some lessons on punctuation as needed too. But if I start from scratch so to speak, I'm afraid I'll have to reinvent the whole year. I plan on starting with kinds of sentences, then maybe a crash course/review in parts of speech, but then what? What works best for you? Keep in mind that the stduents I get in the fall have done little or no real writing in the lower grades (I think). Based on what I've seen in their work, I am guessing most of the primary grammar is focused on excercises and workbooks. :help:
     
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  3. wig

    wig Devotee

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    Feb 27, 2008

    I teach a mini grammar lesson for 10/15 minutes and then a 30 minute writing lesson. I emphasize what we are currently learning grammar-wise in the writing exercise. For instance, when we were learning about verbs, we worked on using more vivid verbs in our writing. My rubric during that time included verb usage.
     
  4. Amers

    Amers Cohort

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    Feb 27, 2008

    I do DOL for morning work every day. In the afternoon, we go over the answers. I also use a program called "Paragraph-a-Week," or PAW. We do one writing assignment each week. Students go through the complete writing process. One day is spent brainstorming, then drafting, revising/editing, and publishing (final draft). When they write the first draft, they get to conference with me over their writing. We proof read it together. I help them find their mistakes and improve their phrasing, expand ideas, etc. I have been doing PAWs and DOL with my class for about 9 weeks, and I have seen a huge improvement in their writing.

    I also pull outside skill sheets to help with particular areas my students seem to struggle with in writing.

    Here is the PAW website, if you're interested:

    http://www.teachersdesk.org/topics/par_week_program.html
     
  5. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Feb 28, 2008

    Thank you for the PAW website. I think I am going to start with this very soon. I told my students today that they would be writing tall tales for the next writing project, but I may put this on the back burner for a few weeks. Any other ideas or suggestions as to how best organize a year's (or even first couple of months) worth of writing lessons? Topics I need to make sure I cover?
     
  6. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    Feb 28, 2008

    Amers, is most of the work on the PAWs done in class? How much time do you spend working on it each day, and how much are they expected to do at home?
     
  7. Eneli

    Eneli Rookie

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    Feb 28, 2008

    Sentence Editing!

    I like to write a paragraph that has a lot of mistakes in the area that I will be focusing on. For example, for capitalization, I would write on a transparency:

    ms. smith loves to travel! this summer she went to london, england. she traveled on acme airlines. ms. smith saw big ben, the parliament, tower bridge and heaver castle. she loved her trip and can't wait to return!

    Then, I discuss with the students what the mistakes are and rewrite it the proper way.

    Ms. Smith loves to travel! This summer she went to London, England. She traveled on Acme Airlines. Ms. Smith saw Big Ben, the Parliament, Tower Bridge and Heaver Castle. She loved her trip and can't wait to return!

    This method models proper writing and it shows students that those English book exercises have a lot to do with their everyday writing.
     
  8. little317

    little317 Groupie

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    Feb 28, 2008

    Workbooks for primary grades? Aw!

    What is it that you are trying to improve in their writing? Is it that the students have poor grammar or is it that the students' writing lacks content?

    I know I teach K, but I do a morning message with my kids and I will purposefully leave out whole words (sight words such as: a, the, we, go, to, will) for the students to fill in.
     
  9. Amers

    Amers Cohort

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    Feb 28, 2008

    I have my class work on them at school. I usually give about 15 minutes for brainstorming (this doesn't take them very long). For the drafting and final copies, I give them around 20-30 minutes to work. Whatever they don't get done during that time needs to be taken home. I also require parent signatures on the rough drafts. My hope is that the parents are actually taking the time to look at their child's writring and see their strenghts and weaknesses.

    Before I started doing PAWs, my class had already had lessons on compound sentences, commas, things like that. I try to pick an area from the 6+1 writing traits to focus on each week. For example, this week my kids focused on organization and sequence. Last week we worked on giving specific details. Depending on your class, you may have to spend more time doing mini lessons on the traits you want them to focus on.

    I should also point out that I don't always use the PAW prompts exactly as they are on the website. I adapt some of them to better fit my students.

    I would try and start out with a "fun" PAW topic to grab their interest in the idea. This isn't one of the prompts on the site, but you could have them write about what life would be like without numbers (think no phone numbers, time, temperatures, speed limits, etc.). I have some other fun ones at school, but I can't remember them off the top of my head.
     
  10. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Feb 29, 2008

    They seem to be able to write complete sentences such as "I like to go to the movies." The problem is that all of their sentences are like this. I'll assign them to write a one-paragraph summary of their weekend, and I'll get exactly five sentences of the same length and complexity that all sound identical with the exception of a few words. That's how every year seems to start out. I usually see some growth, but this year we are just spinning our wheels and getting no where fast.
     
  11. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Feb 29, 2008

    Have you tried having them read their paragraphs aloud?
     
  12. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Mar 1, 2008

    Amers,

    Do you end up taking the PAWS papers home to proofread and correct? How much time outside of the school day do you spend on their writing? I want to start this soon, but I'm having trouble visualizing how it is going to impact my afterschool time. With a part-time job, tutoring, and student council I'm not sure I have much time to spare.
     
  13. Amers

    Amers Cohort

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    Mar 3, 2008

    I don't proofread for them. The closest thing to me proofreading is when I conference with the student. Students staple their brainstorming, rough draft w/ parent signature, and final copy together to turn in on Friday. I made up a simple rubric based on the six traits and use that to grade them. (Before I assigned the first PAW, we looked over the rubric as a class.)

    They really don't take too long to grade. Since they're such short papers, I probably spend 5 minutes on each one. I try to grade them at school, but I do take them home sometimes. I actually have some in my bag right now to grade. Depending on how much other work you have to grade, it would be reasonable to expect to get them graded at school if you used your time wisely.
     
  14. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Mar 3, 2008

    I do writer's workshop, and most grammar lessons are individual and done during conferences. I really focus with my kids on self-editing and revising, and they have checklists they use to do this with.

    Most of my kids tend to have decent grammar in terms of syntax. We do a lot of work with simply capitalizing, general punctuation, checking spelling, etc.

    I don't teach grammar lessons very often. On birthdays we do a birthday mad lib, and they know the parts of speech really well from this. I also do mad libs with them once in awhile relating to a theme of some kind, which they enjoy. Mad libs are also a choice activity when they finish work.

    We have a daily morning message, and my expectation for that is that it is 100% correct every day. This means if there is anything written at all, it has correct spelling, sentences, indentation, etc.

    They have a lit response and/or a news response once a week which they peer edit and revise. Occasionally, I will give a grammar worksheet. I never see great results though, so I tend not to do it. My hope is that by correcting one-on-one in a conference, they will eventually get it. One can only hope.
     
  15. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Mar 5, 2008

    Amers,
    Could I get a copy of the rubric you use to grade the papers? I plan on using a five point scale for the point mentioned in the parent letter, but I'd like to see what you have for the rubric as well. Also, how do you handle situations of late/incomplete work or absent students falling behind?
     
  16. JulieW

    JulieW Rookie

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    Could I also have the rubric for that?
     
  17. Amers

    Amers Cohort

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    It's saved on my computer at school, so I'll have to send it tomorrow when I go back in. As for late work, I follow our grade level policy. One day late=1/2 off; 2 days late= 0 points. If the student only turns in the final copy or doesn't have a signature on the draft, then they just lose the points for that section.
     
  18. Amers

    Amers Cohort

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    OK, I just realized I don't know how to post an attachment here. PM me your email, and I'll send it to you.
     
  19. Amers

    Amers Cohort

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    I sent you the rubric. I also included a website that has 6 trait posters and other rubrics. Their rubrics are much more involved. I kept mine pretty simple.
     
  20. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    I just wanted to say thanks for the PAW site and the rubric. We did the first paragraph project last week on the topic of My Favorite Relative. The paragraphs actually turned out a lot better than I expected! Some of them had never turned in writing this good before. I was able to quickly assess what we needed to work on as a class and have made a list of must-cover topics. It also is giving me a way to teach the Traits quickly and easily. I only graded the first round on how well they followed the directions and covered all the steps. This week I'm acually going to grade them with the rubric. This is a wonderful project! I'm filing it under Why Didn't I Think of This?
     
  21. Amers

    Amers Cohort

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    I'm glad it's working so well for you! I wish I could take all the credit, but naturally, I got the idea from another teacher too. One of the buildings I used to sub in all the time used the program. As I became more familiar with it, I really liked it. Now that I'm in my own classroom, we do PAWs every week.

    This week's PAW is called "Should Kids be Paid to Learn." They are really loving this topic! :)
     
  22. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    There are a lot of good ideas in the Scholastic News magazines. They always have a debate of the week, and I'm sure many of them could be turned into writing projects. We have DARE essays to start before long though and a poetry unit next month. I do plan on using PAWS next year. It will be a great way to start things off.
     
  23. tgim

    tgim Habitué

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    Nov 2, 2009

    Info for Mustang Sally - Writing

    Mustang Sally - here is the original thread about writing a P.O.W. (or PAW); we are going to change ours to WOW (Writing of the Week) in Jan. as we will require more than one paragraph on some assignments. I'll send my files from school. ;)
     
  24. mustang sally

    mustang sally Rookie

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    Nov 2, 2009

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!
     

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