Writer's Anxiety

Discussion in 'Fifth Grade' started by daylightsdawn, Aug 29, 2011.

  1. daylightsdawn

    daylightsdawn New Member

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    Aug 29, 2011

    Hi All!

    I just started teaching my first year of fifth grade. My students are wonderful and generally really willing to try new things. However, as a grade team we've noticed that quite a few have a block when it comes to writing. Some students become so anxious that they must be goaded word by word to put anything on the page (otherwise, they stare at their page in terror and/or tear up). We've been working on breathing/relaxation techniques from Conscious Discipline and that helps a little.

    Are there any writing-specific lessons or tricks that have helped your students make the leap from their thoughts to their page?
     
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  3. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Aug 29, 2011

    Sadly, this comes from years of teachers who have taught them that everything they submit will be dissected and bled upon with a red pen...

    I think you need to establish a "writers" atmosphere. They need to see you writing in front of them. They need to see you making corrections, and if you're lucky, they need to be willing to tell you what YOU can fix in your writing.

    How much choice are they allowed with writing topics?
     
  4. daylightsdawn

    daylightsdawn New Member

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    Aug 29, 2011

    That makes sense.

    I'd like to give them as much freedom in writing topics as possible without leaving them floundering. They have a few reports with assigned subjects (pick a president...pick an animal...) and a once-weekly writing prompt in their homework packet. Our writer's workshops are going to focus more on the different types of writing (narrative, biographical, etc) and they can expand on that as they will. I also have daily journal writing for their random thoughts. I'd like to de-emphasize jumping to the final draft by showcase different parts of the writing process and having students share their ideas in the Author's Chair every step of the way.
     
  5. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Aug 29, 2011

    This is coming from kindergarten, but we make lots of idea lists to prevent "I don't know what to write about". We make them in categories, People we know, Places we go, things we do, etc... I think this might work if you tweak it to their age and the topics. I also use writer's workshop and think the kids seeing me look back at the end of a unit and self evaluating each piece and editing seems to really encourage the kids to just write something and know they can fix it up later.
     
  6. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Aug 29, 2011

    Revision is the most important part of writing to any serious writers, yet it's the most skipped over part in schools.

    If you can, get a copy of Nancy Atwell's "Lessons That Change Writers." It's pricey, but it's wonderful. It sells in a binder with ready made lessons and a pacing guide. It's wonderful for upper elementary/middle school.
     
  7. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Happy birthday, Tasha!
     
  8. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Aug 29, 2011

    Some of these ideas might have already been stated. I find that even with 5th graders enthusiasm and personal example is highly contagious. I often start with a personal narrative. I let them write about anything they want about themselves. This freedom, as others have mentioned, really helps. I then read a personal narrative that I wrote about a true experience that happened in my life. I try to choose something that happened in grades 3-7 so they can relate, and not something that happened in adulthood. I have this prepared ahead of time, and usually it is 1-2 pages. Then we brainstorm, I divide the white board in 4 parts--happy, sad, scary, and embarrassing. I have them help me fill up the board with possible ideas. Nomatter what the idea, I write it down. Then, I have them brainstorm their own ideas in those 4 categories on their own paper with their own real-life examples. Eventually, I have them choose a topic from one of these. Usually from here, things go pretty well. (Often we do other pre-writing activities such as webbing and things like that. If someone doesn't write, I have them sit and watch me write my story for 5 minutes. I act like I really am enjoing writing my story. They must sit and watch me and do nothing else. At the end in a kind and friendly way, I ask if they'd like to continue to watch me write or if they'd like to write their story. I have never had anyone choose the 1st option. Good luck to you!
     

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