Do you ever have those weeks where your students AMAZE you? I HEART these awesome weeks where you feel like your classroom of kiddos can conquer ANYTHING! The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of reading, annotating, organizing, drafting, brainstorming, and writing. We have reached a point in our year where the students are ready to pull together all of the hard work they have tackled from Day 1.
While February and March can feel overwhelming with testing season approaching, I love to consider the incredible growth my students have made over the last six months as readers, writers, thinkers, and speakers. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, my students’ capabilities aren’t either. Each day we grow…
While you may be eons beyond our work, and tackling even more complex learning with your students, I know that there are times when I seek out strategies and advice from other teachers to help navigate work that I need some tips on. If you are heading into paired text essay work, or you are knee-deep in the process, here are a few ideas to help you gear your students up for this BIG work…
Tip #1: Use tools that are available.
Storyworks Magazine from Scholastic is something that is available for our students and we have been utilizing all year. With high-interest articles, it is a perfect source to pull from for the perfect reading components for essay writing. If you are looking for ideal tools to utilize with your students, use what you already know works! Classroom magazines, high-interest articles, classroom texts, etc.
Tip #2: Spiral student learning.
We have spent the entire year preparing to get to this point in our reading and writing. Let’s be honest, essay writing didn’t just happen over night. Before reaching this level of learning, we have focused on…
- tons of print text
- writing, writing, and more writing
- text features to understand informational text
- text structure to observe and interact with how informational text is organized
Our diligent and thoughtful learning has brought us to the point where students feel confident in their abilities as readers, thinkers, and writers. I am not throwing tasks at my students that they are not prepared to tackle. By scaffolding and spiraling student learning, they are ready to tackle challenging writing.
Tip #3: Chunk it!
Essay writing is DAUNTING! Our work as teachers to chunk the process is essential to student success. Very few students possess the knowledge to write 4-paragraphs, comparing and contrasting two lengthy informational text selections, with little to no support. We have to make sense of the process and scaffold in an engaging and thoughtful way. I also find that the more enthusiastic and creative I am in my presentation, the more excited and eager my class of writers becomes. Our thorough, fervent instruction makes all the difference when encouraging student writers.
Tip #4: Walk it out, but let them have a go!
I can talk all day about what I want my students to be able to do. We all can! We know what the standards encompass and we know what our students need to know. It is essential for them to see the expectations and have the process modeled. We don’t throw a kid into a pool and expect them to swim, right? The same holds true for how we enhance student enthusiasm and success with reading and writing. If you want your students to be able to compare and contrast text and write thoughtfully about the similarities and differences, you have to SHOW them how a good reader and thoughtful writer goes about this big work.
We brainstormed, organized, drafted, edited, and published.
Tip #5: Showcase hard work!
My students LOVE to see their work on display! It gives them a sense of pride to see the work they have completed displayed in a thoughtful way for others to observe. When students have completed the work and put forth their best effort, put it on display! Hallways, classroom displays, pictures in your weekly newsletter…all are amazing ways to exhibit hard work! Our third graders come down our hallway to read our displays and my 4th graders notice! They love knowing that others are observing their work.
This writing was HARD and they are PROUD!
While we have a ways to go before my kiddos head to 5th grade, we are on the right track and making progress daily! Best of luck as you tackle extensive writing and gear your students up for the next grade level.