Day by Day: Choice Cycle 1, Day 6

To see a complete list of the reflection activities and for an explanation of the program, visit my Day By Day Main Page.

Choice Cycle 1: Physical Choices

Day 6: Students need their own spot.

Challenge: Play around with focus spots on your own in your home. Don’t settle for your desk. Bring your notebook or your laptop to different spots in your home to see where you sustain writing best and longest without distractions.

Reflective practice: How did you write differently while sitting on the floor versus at a table versus on a piece of furniture (e.g., a couch or chair)?

How might you help a child understand when a given spot in the room isn’t working for him or her based on your own equipment with focus spots in your home.

Day by Day: Choice Cycle 1, Day 5

To see a complete list of the reflection activities and for an explanation of the program, visit my Day By Day Main Page.

Choice Cycle 1: Physical Choices

Day 5: Writer’s Notebooks for Tech-Savvy Students

Challenges: Identify some students in your class who might benefit from a blog. Usually these are the students with excellent ideas, but who don’t enjoy the physical act of writing Talk to them about how a blog might help them express themselves as a writer. Then create a plan that involves keeping up with their daily notebook writing for a given time period. Discuss how that might transition into a blog a a means for keeping an online writer’s notebook.

What kinds of permission do you need to obtain from your administration and from students’ parents before creating blogs for your students?

What kinds of guidelines will you create to keep your students safe once they create a blog?

Think through independent writing time in class: How will the bloggers be held responsible for completing assignments if they’re not using a notebook?

Day by Day: Choice Cycle 1, Day 4

To see a complete list of the reflection activities and for an explanation of the program, visit my Day By Day Main Page.

Choice Cycle 1: Physical Choices

Day 4: Choosing a Writer’s Notebook

Challenge: First, customize your own writer’s notebook. Share how you’ve personalized your writer’s notebook and then give students the opportunity to customize their writer’s notebooks. This can be as simple as pictures and names on the front cover or as elaborate as each student finding their own notebook style. As students customize their notebooks, encourage them to share the reasons for their choices with one another.

How did customizing your own writer’s notebook make you feel as a writer?

What did you learn about your students as they customized their writer’s notebooks?

How can you encourage students to share stories with you and with one another as they decorate their writer’s notebooks?

Day by Day: Choice Cycle 1, Day 3

To see a complete list of the reflection activities and for an explanation of the program, visit my Day By Day Main Page.

Choice Cycle 1: Physical Choices

Day 3: A place for everything and everything in its place

Challenge: Be aware of the potential for students to organize these four areas in an individualized way. Empower students to take risks and try new ideas for establishing order to their writing lives. As student evaluate their systems, encourage them to make changes so the system works for them and the student isn’t working for the system. Record ideas that are most effective so you can share these with your students.

What systems make the most sense to you as a writer?

How does it feel to have students use different strategies to organize themselves as writers?

Are there systems that may be too cumbersome for the students in your classroom, and should you eliminate them as options?

In your early years of writing workshop, were you too rigid or too loose in developing organizational systems?

Day by Day: Choice Cycle 1, Day 2

To see a complete list of the reflection activities and for an explanation of the program, visit my Day By Day Main Page.

Choice Cycle 1: Physical Choices

Day 2: Classroom writing center

Challenge: Evaluate your writing center. Make changes necessary so it inspires students to write. If you’re really looking to lift the level of your writing center, enlist the help of your students to organize it. Give them the supplies, containers, and a location for the writing center. then, step back and watch it come to life as they organize, containerize, and label the supplies. If students are invested in creating it, then they are even more empowered by it. Another idea for organizing supplies is to create mini-centers for each group of students. Put necessary items together that can be used by a small group of students. This eliminates some movement to and from a classroom writing center.

Am I just underthinking this? We use just our regular classroom supplies to write with, and students have the option of using pencil or pen.

What supplies inspire you to write?

Pens that write smoothly.

What items in your writing center empower students to live like writers?

Colored pencils, sticky notes, highlighters.

Day by Day: Choice Cycle 1, Day 1

To see a complete list of the reflection activities and for an explanation of the program, visit my Day By Day Main Page.

Choice Cycle 1: Physical Choices

Day 1: The culture of having enough

Challenge: Make a list of items you feel all students need to have access to for use in writing workshop. Talk with administration about what they can supply if your students’ parents do not have the means to provide those items for the classroom.

Thankfully, this year I think we have all we need. I might get a few more date stampers, but otherwise we’ll just need some legal pads, which I can purchase with FWEA money.

How will you teach your students to care for the supplies?

Class discussion, and I’ll share / have previous students share what has happened when things weren’t cared for properly in the past.

Will you do a guided discovery, a class discussion, or something else?

See above.

What will you do if you find out that students are hoarding supplies or taking items home?

Talk with families. This is why beginning of the year family visits are SO HUGE!

Day by Day: Mini-Lessons Cycle 1, Day 10

To see a complete list of the reflection activities and for an explanation of the program, visit my Day By Day Main Page.

Mini-Lessons Cycle 1: Meaningful Mini-Lessons

Day 10: Bookend the mini-lesson

Challenge: Consider a key concept you would like your students to attempt as writers. Make a plan to teach this in a mini-lessons and then use a bookend share to wrap up writing workshop.

How do you encourage your students to take risks as writers?

What information about your students did you glean from the bookend share?

Day by Day, Mini-Lessons Cycle 1, Day 9

To see a complete list of the reflection activities and for an explanation of the program, visit my Day By Day Main Page.

Mini-Lessons Cycle 1: Meaningful Mini-Lessons

Day 9: Endless Possibilities for teaching from text

Challenge: Consider the list of potential texts to use in a mini-lesson. Make a plan to use a type of text you’ve not used often in your mini-lessons. As you stretch yourself to try something new, remember that this is what we ask students to do each day in our mini-lessons.

Which type of text are you most comfortable using in your mini-lessons?

Chunks of text from fiction chapter books or picture books, or essays by humorous authors like David Sedaris.

Why?

The text is short, interesting, and familiar to students so they can focus on the author’s craft rather than on the novelty of a brand new piece of writing.

How did it feel when you stretched yourself to try something new in your mini-lesson?

I’m not sure yet. Right now, I’m still buried in all the suggestions for graphic organizers I received after my request in yesterday’s post! :) But as with any time I go out of my comfort zone, I assume it will be nerve-wraking but ultimately rewarding.

How does this connect to the way your students feel as they attempt new ideas in writing workshop?

Ostensibly, my students are trying something new every day in writing workshop. Therefore, I’ll gain greater empathy for them by continuing to push myself as a writer too.

Day by Day: Mini-Lessons Cycle 1, Day 8

To see a complete list of the reflection activities and for an explanation of the program, visit my Day By Day Main Page.

Mini-Lessons Cycle 1: Meaningful Mini-Lessons

Day 8: Concrete images for support

Challenge: Make a list of all of the concrete tools you use to support your students as writers. Ask one or more of your colleagues to do the same. Discuss the tools you use and ascertain whether you can implement any of your colleague’s tools into your teaching practice.

The only thing I use with any measure of regularity is the Boxes and Bullets form from Lucy Calkins that we use in our persuasive essays. I honestly haven’t taught more writing than that.

What is useful about using concrete tools to help your students in writing workshop?

It helps them wrap their brains around a nebulous project. It takes away the fear of staring at a blank piece of paper.

How do you decide when to introduce a new concrete tool to help the writers you teach?

I haven’t sought out many in the past. I assume that as I find more (I’ve already e-mailed my coworkers and the folks I’m doing this book study with), I’ll introduce them as an optional tool during a mini-lesson, then reinforce its use with students who could really benefit from it during a small group or one-on-one conference.

Day by Day: Mini-Lessons Cycle 1, Day 7

To see a complete list of the reflection activities and for an explanation of the program, visit my Day By Day Main Page.

Mini-Lessons Cycle 1: Meaningful Mini-Lessons

Day 7: Active involvements: Learning by doing

Challenge: Think about your most recent successful mini-lesson. What did you do as a teacher when you demonstrated the strategy that clicked with your students when they arrived at the active involvement? Brainstorm ways that worked and think about ways you can replicate that kind of teaching.

I’ve been really clear this year about laying out the PARTS of writers workshop. They know we proceed with:

  1. Mini-lesson
  2. Guided practice
  3. Independent work
  4. Mid-workshop teaching point
  5. Independent work
  6. Share
So when we get to the active involvement, students know this time has been EXPLICITLY created for them to try out the strategy. So far, they’ve participated.

How can you engage all of your students in the active involvements you’re planning for the upcoming week?

I’m keeping the tasks really small and short so students don’t feel overwhelmed, and I’m stopping them while they’re still writing so they don’t feel like they’ve run out of ideas.

Do you need to do anything differently to plan improved active involvements?

Probably.

If so, what?

I think I’ll need to keep checking myself to see that our mini-lessons are directly connected to the goals we want to achieve by the end of this unit. Sometimes I get carried away on birdwalks.

If not, how will you continue to do amazing work?

Despite my best efforts to have positive intentions, I imagine a bit of a snarky tone to this question.