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Encouraging Writing in the Elementary Schools

In grades K-5 this year, all students in the Melrose Public Schools are writing everyday during a period called “writer’s workshop.”

In grades K-5 this year, all students in the Melrose Public Schools are writing everyday during a period called “writer’s workshop.” In writer’s workshop, the teacher will begin with a short lesson where they focus in on an element of good writing. This is called the "mini-lesson," called "mini" because it focuses on one teaching point.

Students then move to writing on their own. The teacher will move from student to student providing feedback to help students’ improve their writing. It is through the individual or group conferencing with students that teachers can meet the varied needs of students in their classroom.

At the end of the workshop, the teacher will ask student to share with partners their writing or ask a few students to share their writing with the class. The sharing at the end of the writing time helps students have a sense of audience. Students begin to understand that the purpose of writing is so others can hear our ideas and thoughts. Students are also given an opportunity to talk about their writing.

Different Types of Writing

Students will write in different genres or types of writing throughout the school year. In kindergarten, students will write mostly personal narratives and in the spring write poems. Kindergartners will also learn to write to tell others about topics they are learning about in school. They will also begin to write persuasively. For example, they might write about their favorite part of a book.

In grades 1-5, students will focus on the following four types of writing:

  • Narrative writing tells a personal or fictional experience.
  • Expository or informational writing will inform, instruct, explain, define and/or clarify.
  • Persuasive writing will persuade writers towards an opinion or belief.
  • Poetry is the final unit students will explore to tell stories and to describe objects and ideas.

Students also in grades K-5 write in response to what they read, which means they write about what they have read. By writing about their ideas and what they have read, teachers are helping students develop their thinking and reading comprehension.

These forms of writing are emphasized in the new English Curriculum Frameworks adopted by Massachusetts in March 2011.The new state curriculum emphasizes that students use all forms or genres to communicate their ideas in writing.

What Makes Good Writing
There are six traits of writing that teachers help students develop. The traits of good writing are as follows:

  • Ideas focus on having a clear message and details that paint a picture for the reader.
  • Organization refers to writing that clear and is easy to follow. The piece would begin with a way to hook in the reader and have an interesting ending.
  • A piece of writing is said to have voice if you can hear the author’s personality shine through. The author makes the writing come to life.
  • Sentence fluency refers to writing that is easy to read aloud. The writing would use a variety of sentence lengths and types.
  • Word choice refers to choosing descriptive words to help paint a vivid picture for the reader.
  • Conventions refer to correct, spelling, punctuation and grammar.

The Writing Process

In school, students will work through the writing process. Students begin by pre-writing or generating their ideas and planning out their writing. They then write out a draft. Next, students revise the draft based upon the traits of good writing. Students then edit their pieces, which focuses on the spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. Finally, students publish their final draft that will be shared with others.

Tips for Encouraging Writing at Home

Families can look for ways to support writing at home also and help extend the learning that occurs in school.

  • Look for opportunities to write for real purposes such as writing emails or letters to family, invitations, thank you notes, birthday cards, a list of things to do or a grocery shopping list.
  • Get a special “writer’s notebook” to use at home and encourage your child to write down their ideas, drawings, and their stories in the notebook. Encourage writing by getting special pens or pencils.
  • Create a family book or album to document a special event or trip.
  • Show your children the type of writing that you do to communicate with others at home for personal reasons and for the world of work.
  • Ask your children about what they writing about in school. Ask what they might write about tomorrow. 

The purpose of the Melrose Public Schools Blog is to help provide parents information on the school programs related to the curriculum and instruction. We also hope to share ideas and strategies for parents to use at home to strengthen home and school connections.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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