Keeping a writer’s notebook have been a BIG addition to my language arts instruction over the years. After studying Daily 5 I became more aware of how little authentic writing my students have done over the last number of years. Years ago, I implemented Writer’s Workshop into my instruction, but with the pressures of our testing and making students the BEST READERS, writing was probably a once a quarter kind of thing, and it was VERY decisive on my end, sadly.
I will not make the same mistake again! With experience I have learned to help my students become better writers with a wide array of engaging activities. Through all of my BLOG STALKING, researching, and personal enthusiasm for the writing process, I have built a collection of the best strategies and practices to enhance my students’ writing and creativity. So far-we are heading down the right path.
I experienced my first breakthrough several years ago with my class. This class had done a bit of brainstorming, recorded and contributed to the creations of anchor charts, but adding a new element to the process unexpectedly led to their first REAL authentic thinking and writing.
I saw on a science teacher’s blog how he/she does a Photo of the Day prompt. The photo is pulled from the National Geographic website. Each day students list observations and inferences about the picture and record them in their science journals. I LOVED THIS IDEA and decided it was a great one to tweak!
My students HAVE to know the difference between observation and inference as readers and thinkers, so I just extended the task to also TELLING THE STORY OF THE PICTURE. I decided this would be a perfect morning starter activity for us to tackle each week.
To be honest, the first attempt was a S-T-R-U-G-G-L-E! Comments like, “I don’t get this!” “What do you want us to write about?” “I don’t know what the polar bears are thinking.” Oh dear, hang in there…I decided that I may have better luck with photos from the Travel photography section instead of animal images.
That day was one of those teaching moments where you want to shout out the classroom window, “THEY GOT IT, LISTEN TO THIS!” I didn’t, of course, but they did do an author share at the end, and many wanted to share what they had written! WOOHOO!
There is always more work to be done with my student writers, but interactive notebooks are definitely an idea I would recommend to fellow teachers. While I know students will run into creative road blocks, sometimes it just takes that one moment of success for them to realize they can do something!
If you are looking for some classroom-tested writing resources, here are a couple of my most popular creations…