I’m so excited to launch something that’s been in the works for several months! Each Wednesday, you can look forward to a simple writing lesson for primary grades — it’s a collaboration between This Reading Mama and The Measured Mom.
Simple writing lessons.
What comes to mind when you hear those words? Maybe it’s a collection of writing prompts that students respond to in their daily journals. Perhaps you’re thinking of a series of worksheets to help children practice capitalization, parts of speech, and proper spelling. Or maybe you’re hoping for a curriculum which simplifies your teaching by listing every lesson from September to May.
The fact is that teaching writing is not as simple as prompts, drills, or a prescribed curriculum.
What are simple writing lessons?
1. Simple writing lessons differ from traditional writing instruction.
In our writing series you won’t find a series of daily prompts. You will find lessons which show students how to find and choose their own topics.
You probably won’t find children completing a piece of writing in a single sitting. You will find students taking some of their writing all the way through the writing process over days or even weeks.
You won’t find children limited to writing only the words they can spell. You will find students spelling any of the words in their vocabulary — according to their own developmental level.
You won’t find a series of lessons mapped out before the year begins. You will learn to choose what to teach based on your students’ current needs.
2. Simple writing lessons are taught as students follow the writing process.
If you’re focused on the process, then you’re interested in the journey. The destination is important, but you’re most interested in what it takes to get there.
Quality writing instruction takes students through the writing process – over days or even weeks.
Pre-writing: Writers decide on a topic and brainstorm ideas.
Drafting: Writers write sentences and paragraphs, reread what they’ve written, and get suggestions from others.
Revising: Writers rearrange words or sentences, add or delete, replace words, and make sure their writing is fluent.
Editing: Writers correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Publishing/Sharing: Writers create a final copy of their work and share it.
3. Simple writing lessons include a mini-lesson in which teachers clearly model a skill or strategy.
Mini-lessons are just that: mini. They can be as short as 2 minutes and might take as long as 15. Teachers model the lesson with their own writing.
Hundreds of possibilities exist for mini-lessons! Here are just a few:
- Choosing a topic
- How to stretch a word and write the sounds you hear
- Using quotation marks correctly
- Reread your writing to check for fluency
- What to do when you’re “stuck”
- How to follow an editor’s checklist
4. Simple writing lessons leave the bulk of time for students to write independently.
We didn’t teach our toddlers to talk by drilling them on blends and word endings. We talked with them in real and meaningful ways.
We don’t need to drill our children on the skills of good writing. Instead, we give them opportunities to write in real and purposeful ways – and we support and teach them as they grow.
Primary students should be given at least 20-30 minutes to write independently – ideally on a daily basis.
5. We choose simple writing lessons based on observations of our student writers.
A teacher’s manual might tell me that the next writing lesson is about how to insert information by using a caret. But my first grader takes 20 minutes to write a single sentence and is clearly not ready for this advanced revising skill.
Or maybe the prescribed lesson is for putting periods at the end of sentences. My first grader has been doing that correctly for a year. Clearly she needs to learn something else.
Choosing what to teach based on our students’ needs isn’t easy. But the more you do it, the more proficient you’ll become. And The Measured Mom and This Reading Mama are here to help!
6. Simple Writing Lessons for Primary Grades:
Our lessons are designed for students in grades 1 and 2. But you might find that your kindergartner or third grader will also benefit.
- Pre-writing: Make an expert list
- Pre-writing: Use a graphic organizer
- Drafting: Choose a tiny topic
- Drafting: Make it interesting for the reader
- Drafting: Ask questions
- Drafting: Use invented spelling
- Revising: Put boring words in jail
- Revising: Re-read your writing
- Editing: Use a spelling dictionary for kids
- Editing: Use a checklist
- Publishing: Make a book
- Publishing: Share Your Writing