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In a balanced literacy classroom

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1 In a balanced literacy classroom
The Writing Block In a balanced literacy classroom By Leigh Daley

2 Goals of the Writing Block:
See writing as a way to tell about things Write fluently Learn to read through writing Apply grammar and mechanics in their own writing Learn particular forms of writing Maintain the self-confidence and motivation of struggling writers

3 What does the Writing Block look like?
Segment One – Mini Lesson/Teacher Writing Five to ten minutes The teacher presents a mini-lesson in which real writing and a skill or strategy is modeled. This includes: A focus on writing, adding to, or editing a piece Reference in made to the word wall or other places in the room to model how words available in the classroom can help with spelling A modeled use of an Editor’s checklist to promote and guide self-checking, peer revision, and editing. This checklist will grow throughout the year.

4 The Writing Block, cont’d
Segment Two – Children Writing/Teacher Conferencing Students writing on self-generated topics, individually paced at various stages of the writing process, perhaps working for multiple days on one piece. Individual conferences occur between some students and the teacher while the other students write. Each student picks one piece, from three to five good first drafts, to revise, edit, and publish during the conference.

5 The Writing Block, cont’d
Segment Three – Sharing Selected students share briefly in the Author’s Chair (approximately two minutes each) something they have written. The “author” answers several questions from classmates about the writing. The teacher models the types of thoughtful questions students should learn to ask.

6 Mini - Lessons The writing block begins with a mini-lesson. The teacher works with the overhead projector or with a large piece of chart paper. She writes and models all the things writers do – although not all on any one day! The teacher thinks aloud, deciding what to write, and then writes. While writing, the teacher models looking at the Word Wall as well as inventive spelling.

7 Keep in mind…. A successful mini-lesson is short, teacher-directed, and discusses only one topic.

8 Must Have Mini - Lessons
Procedures/rules to follow during the writing period Four Square writing 6+1 Traits Choosing a topic What to do if you can’t spell a word Punctuation and grammar Adding on to a piece Revising editing

9 More mini-lesson topics
Shared writing Words authors use How to set a scene Different genres of writing Adding feelings into my writing Books as models for writing How to add to or change a story Staying on topic Rhyming words Synonyms/antonyms/homonyms

10 Even more topics… Poetry Figurative language Humorous writing Rubrics
Editing checklists Anchor papers Viewing student pieces Letter writing The writing process Hooks Responding to prompts

11 Children Writing Children choose topics and write about what they know. Driting. Half and Half. The Process. Focused Writing. Journal Writing.

12 Goals of Teacher Conferencing:
Encourage the student to apply the mini-lessons that have been taught consistently Support the student individually in his area of greatest potential growth by evaluating the student’s writing Build the confidence of the student as a writer

13 Teacher’s Self-evaluation for Writing Conferences:
Have I let the student retain ownership of the piece of writing? Have I helped the student grow individually in at least one area? Have I focused the conference narrowly enough so that growth can occur? Have I asked questions that will allow the student to make choices, rather than making the choices for him? Have I helped the student realize that correctness is not what good writing is? Have I remained positive with the student to encourage his ideas and attempts?

14 Common problems and mini-lessons to address them:
“I don’t know what to write-itis” (ideas) I have soooo much to say… (organization) Repeated phrases - and so, then, and (fluency) Weak adjectives like cool, awesome, pretty, neat (word choice) Each sentence on a new line in a paragraph (conventions) No imagination in writing (voice) Sloppiness (presentation)

15 Things to remember… Don’t expect a finished piece every day.
It is not necessary to grade every piece. Use a rubric or give content/mechanics grades. Save samples to show progress. Children will be at all stages in the writing process. Teaches MUST model what writers do. It is important to write EVERY day. Write for an authentic audience/publish or share. The 4th Grade Writing Assessment is REALLY K-4.

16 Another way children learn to read is by writing
Another way children learn to read is by writing. For some children, their own writing provides the first successful reading experience. Many children love the combination of writing and illustrating that leads to a published work. Children’s writing samples, prior to the publication stage, serve as a rich portrait of how well young minds are applying important language skills and strategies, as well as what they knew about words.

17 The Writing Block includes a mini-lesson that provides children with a model of what writers do. During the block, children engage in various writing activities from starting a new piece, finishing a piece, revising, editing, or illustrating. Another component includes conferences that lead to a final published piece. In the Author’s Chair, children share their writing and respond to each other’s writing at various stages in its development.

18 References: Cunningham, P, Hall, D, & Sigmon, C (1999). The Teacher's Guide to the Four Blocks. Greensboro: Carson-Dellosa. Sigmon, C (2001). Modifying the Four Blocks for Upper Grades. Greensboro: Carson-Dellosa

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