Be playful in your approach. This lesson is at its best when the students are engaged and involved in writing together.
I teach this as a whole group lesson. We begin by brainstorming topics about which to write. As the students call out ideas I lead the brainstorming by noticing when a topic emerges. When we have a topic emerge I end the brainstorming by stating the topic. For example, I will say, “Today we have chosen to write about insects. Who can tell me how to write the title? What do we need to do?” Then I will write the title. From that point on I will take sentences from the students and as I write, I am asking for feedback about the mechanics of writing, and providing instruction as the paragraph is unfolding. This shared writing format requires that the teacher know the students and the standards well enough to keep the conversation and instruction moving. At the end of the paragraph I will add a “Silly Sentence.” As I write the sentence I add common mistakes that I see in students’ writing. For example, I will misspell high frequency words, leave out punctuation, and reverse letters. I then read the message aloud, as I point to each word. At this point I draw names to choose who will have a turn. A turn consists of three steps: First the student is asked if he/she wants to read “some, part or all” of the message. As the message is read aloud I ask that the student point to each word. After the reading, I ask what the student sees in the “silly sentence” that needs to be corrected. I allow for one correction in the sentence, then I have the student find something that I have selected in the body of the message to circle, underline, etc. I change pen colors depending on what is being circled. For example, I might ask for digraphs to be circled in red or vowel teams to be circled in blue. As the teacher, I vary what we are looking for in the paragraph based on what we are learning about in class. I also diversify my instruction for the individual needs of my students. The options for what we can correct and find in the body of the paragraph are not limited to foundational skills. The teacher can tailor the shared writing lesson to his/her students, and to that point in time in the school year.
Additional Resources for Teacher Training
Nan and Jay’s book was an excellent starting place for me as I began whole group writing lessons with students. The format they used varies from my way of teaching a “Morning Message” but they were my starting point for this lesson.Scholar Skills: A Language Activity for Every Day by Nan and Jay HamnerScholar Programs, Unlimited, 1982
- White board (Promethean) or other shared writing surface
- Colored white board markers
- Eraser for white board
I use this throughout the year.
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