Saturday, April 4, 2009

Weekly Writing: The Writer's Notebook

"If a painter needs an easel to play with painting, and a basketball player needs a gym to play with the basketball, then it reasons that writers--especially developing writers--need a place to play with writing. In my class the place to play with writing is the writer's notebook." Kelly Gallagher

Require each student to write regularly in a writer's notebook.
-At the beginning of the school year have each student bring a spiral notebook to class (minimum 200 pages)
-Have students number the pages.
-After the pages are numbered, give students sticky notes to serve as tabs and have them block out sections of their notebooks as follows:

Pages Section Title Purpose
1-3 Table of Contents Students keep track of mini-lessons.
4-10 What should I write? This section is for brainstorming activities
10-12 Writing/Literary Terms Defining terms like "simile" as reference
13 Spelling Demons Students personal spelling demons
14-40 Craft "Craft" - things good writers do
41-65 Editing Section for editing mini-lessons
66+ Writing Where the writer plays with writing on a
daily basis.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Looping Strategy


A term coined by Peter Elbow I Writing with Power (1998), is a useful strategy to help students explore their thinking through writing this strategy enables a student to move from unfocused to focused writing. This strategy enables a student to move from unfocused to focused writing.

Here are Elbow’s steps for looping:

  1. Start by having students write their initial thinking on a given topic. Like a character’s particular behavior. Students’ initial writings may wander.
  2. Ask students to write nonstop for ten minutes. The key is to begin with the first thing that comes to mind and to not stop writing. If students get stuck, have them rewrite the last sentence. Students must be taught their writing might take them in unforeseen directions. This is a good thing.
  3. After ten minutes, have students reread what they have written thus far. As they read, they are searching for a “hot spot” – an emerging theme, a central idea – anything that stands out and creates a spark of thinking.
  4. Have students highlight or circle this “hot spot.” Skipping a line or two, have the students rewrite this hot spot into a complete sentence.
  5. Beginning with this new sentence, ask students to write again for ten minutes.
  6. At the end of ten minutes, tell students to find a new hot spot and again write a summary sentence.
  7. Keep looping until a focus or thesis emerges. Sometimes this will occur in a single loop; sometimes it takes a few loops.

Movie and Restaurant Reviews

Attack the Prompt

Mapping Your Writing Territory

How can students write about things that they care about? Simple, have them map out their writing territories! Even better, map out your own along with them!

After students have listed approximately 20 things they would like to write about (or already do), have them choose one of their territories and produce a "Sneeze" on it (a 20-minute writing exploration into that topic.

Have them do a different topic each day Monday through Thursday, and on Friday they should choose their best draft and revise it.

Additionally, students can "funnel" the territories by completing graphic organizers on their topics like WRITE SMALLER and TOPIC BLASTS!

Thursday, April 2, 2009