Daily 5 Spring Cleaning: Work on Writing

I'm not going to lie... work on writing has never been one of my personal favorites. If I get a group of students that doesn't particularly love writing, I struggle to keep them engaged. I'm not the best at introducing new things and putting them out and keeping them stocked... #thestruggleisreal Truthfully, I don't care what they are writing about, as long as they are writing! I have found a few things that have worked for me this year, and some new technology has made a world of difference.

Here is my writing center. Literally some counter space with enough room for 2 kids to sit. Plus, of course, a cute WRITE banner and some pictures of students modeling work on writing. Most students grab what they need and then find a spot around the room to work. At the beginning of the year, it was one set of trays, and we had a few simple options.

It started with simple list writing.

Step by step drawing and then some sentence starters to use with the picture. Nothing too crazy. *Side note: they still really like this one! #win

Then I gradually (I mean reeeeeally gradually, because I'm slow at introducing new things) adding some more activities, and eventually, another tray of options.

We always start off with some thank you notes a month or 2 into the school year for one thing or another, so writing letters and cards got introduced and then added. I was using full sized cards from Mel D's pack and Miss Kindergarten Love's All Done! Now What? pack, but my kids were literally going through 50 cards in 3 days. I don't even know. So we talked about writing quality letters (aka writing more than 1 sentence) and I got the genius idea to just print them half page, like a postcard. Except we write on the whole back. I have always copied lined paper on the back, to help with handwriting.

They also thoroughly enjoy writing plain ol' letters to their friends...and me... I'm clearly the best teacher ever. #fanmail

This has slowed down a bit, so I'm not killing the copier, but they really still do enjoy writing cards and letters.

I also threw in a class picture and a faculty picture, both of which are labeled with names, so the kids love to use that to help write their letters.

One of the activities I introduced later in the year was I Can Write Sentences. They kids got super into this when I first put it out, but the enthusiasm has died down a bit. There is a cute recording sheet that goes with it too, where they can record their sentences and add a picture for each one.

We started our opinion writing unit last week and this was one of the activities we did as a class, so I threw it in the writing center, as well. They had some hilarious responses last week, and they were super into it. 

All of these activities are great fun, HOWEVER, I will now reveal my secret to those who are still with me. Sharing opportunity + document camera. That is how I've been able to get my students writing. Sure, plenty of them enjoy all that other stuff, and yes, you'll still find kids writing fan mail to me letters, but, 5 out of 6 kids (plus a handful from free choice) will be writing in their journals. Now, to be fair, I will give some credit to A Teeny Tiny Teacher and my teammate who gave me the idea to do a short share time between rounds of stations.

So, share time started as just Read to Someone Share Time. I would let a few groups of students share their plays or stories they'd been practicing between stations, and it was a hit. Well then my teammate said, "Oh, they share writing too!" So I said, "By golly, that's a great idea!" So kids would take their journal up to the front of the room and hold it up, but of course, no one could see it and then the kid is trying to turn their journal around so they can attempt to read their ludicrous handwriting... well, not as much of a hit. Shortly after this whole share time came about, we were lucky enough to all receive document cameras. So first thing I did was move the person sharing to the document camera. The rest is history.

First, students write something fabulous in their journals. They get lots of inspiration from our foam die-cut stencils.

Next, students wait patiently to be chosen to share (I do not call on people who come waving their journals in my face during teacher table or shout out asking me if they can share).

Then, if a student gets to share, they bring their journal to the document camera, and they read their writing to the class. 

Look at how enthralled those kids are! They ADORE share time!

Finally, the student sharing may call on 1 person to give them a compliment about their work. 

I have more students writing than ever before, and I owe it all to sharing under the document camera. They are proud of their work and I love giving them the opportunity to share it, as well as model good writing for their peers. 

Next idea to try will most definitely be A Teeny Tiny Teacher's Message Center (I think I have a teacher crush on her)...ohmyword I can't wait!

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