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Begging for help with WRITING


Senior Member
If anyone has any suggestions to actually teach writing skills I would love to hear them. We have students do personal narratives, persuasive, and other writing portfolio pieces but we use NO actual writing program. It's an area I struggle in every year and I'm sick of it. I want my kids to be good writers but I feel like I'm always stressed out because I have no resources. They tell us what an informational piece is supposed to look like in first grade but they give us very little resources to actually teach it.
I want to go back in January with a plan of action even if I have to buy some writing resources myself while on break.

Also - we are starting brand new writing journals for the 2nd half of the year. I've been letting my students decide what to write in their journals everyday -- I call it "free choice writing". I rarely give them prompts but lately their writing seems to be very repetitive.

Please help if you have any suggestions. thanks


An Idea

Hi Kyteacher

In regard to your second problem (repetitive writing) something I do up is cut a whole bunch of pictures from magazines. I then stick a picture onto a piece of card and write some inspiration or likely-to-be-used words on the card below the picture (i.e., if the pic is of a dog I would write 'dog', 'bone', 'park' etc). I keep all these in a box and the kids go and grab a card that interests them and write about the picture. They loved it and ended up writing pages!!

Hope this is of some help?


Senior Member
Writing help

We use a program developed by a local school district called The Effective Communicator. The types of writing you need to teach sound very familiar to what I have to teach. We don't have a book to teach from but there is a process to teaching writing. We test 1 major type of writing each quarter, starting in quarter 2: simple directions, descriptive paragraph, and statements of information. I do teach other types of writing; those listed are just the tested writing pieces.

Basically, I alternate weeks of types of writing. For example, we are working on simple directions now. I spend 1 week on that, then the next week we do journal writing. The next week is simple directions, then letter writing, etc. I do this for 10 weeks alternating then test.

Now there is a process for teaching writing. First time or 2 taught, we experience something together as a class and I model how to write. Example might be making hot chocolate. The next time, we write a simple directions paragraph together. The time or 2 after that, we write with partners. The last several times we write on our own. Each time make sure they all have some sort of common experience with what you want them to write about. Either they experience it directly or you read a book.

As far as repetitive journal writing, we share our writing together. Then we talk about what we liked and how we could improve. This takes a lot of modeling from you but eventually, they can tell you how they do better writing. I always tell them that writers never get it right the first time. They are always looking for ways to make it better.

Good luck!

Mrs. R

Senior Member
Units of Study

This year, I've been using Units of Study for Primary Writing by Lucy Calkins. I absolutely love it. The year is divided into 7 units, each of which focuses on a different concept: workshop routines, personal narrative, skills and strategies, revision, poetry, nonfiction, authors as mentors. Each unit is outlined session by session (15+ writing sessions per unit) in its own separate manual so each book is thin and easy to carry around with you. The program also includes a conferring handbook and an overview book (9 books in all). Each writing session outline includes a minilesson taken from an actual classroom, a mid-workshop teaching point, suggestions for conferencing, and suggestions for additional lessons if students need more time. The drawback is that the program is pricey ($150), but I have found it well worth it. Like you, there were many expectations in my district and few resources or guidelines. Units of Study gives me an outline but I can be flexible within that-skipping lessons, spending more time on some based on my students' needs. Good luck finding something that works for you.
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Junior Member
Interactive Writing

One of the components of my literacy program is interactive writing.

Before beginning interactive writing, I usually use a picture book to introduce my lesson (for example, "Toot and Puddle" to introduce letter writing).
After reading the book, we gather in front of an easel with chart paper. I tell them what sort of piece we are going to write (in this instance, we will write a friendly letter).
I guide students and provide small mini-lessons as we write the letter together. The Students and I negotiate sentences and phrases. Students take turns writing on the chart paper. I am there to correct letter formation and word placement as they write (white "boo-boo tape is useful stuff for this - just tape over mistakes and write right on the tape).
When we are done with the piece, we read it together and edit as desired.
After we do an interactive piece, or during the process if its a long piece, I turn them loose in their journals to write their own letters. I allow students to copy the interactive piece if they wish. A lot of them do at the beginning of the year - but I encourace origional writing, and as they write I wander around the room and peek over their shoulders at what they are doing. Whenever I see a student stretching their writing skills, I stop everything and we celebrate their writing. We read their work right then and there and do some sort of little cheer to celebrate whatever it is they did.
During this time, I can see where they all are in their writing, and I can usually see what I need to teach next to help them further their skills.
Students really respond to the mini-celebrations and I see more and more of them taking writing risks and stretching their writing skills to be selected for a celebration.

Every few weeks I have students re-visit their journals and pick their favorite piece to revise and edit and publish. They read their writing to each other to help with the editing process. I post a short checklist to help with the editing (for example, after the unit on letter writing I might ask ... "Does your letter have a greeting?", "Does your letter have a closing?", "Check for capital letters and punctuation." etc.)


Use the kids writing as your resources. I allow my kids to write and afterwards call them to the carpet and have a mini lesson using several of their writings or I write my own "story" on the board and put in mistakes that I have seen several make ex. punctuation, misspelled word wall words, finger spaces, repetativeness, etc. I let them be the editors and it makes it more personable because they see thier mistakes and they still were able to write and no worry about rules. But next time, they WILL remember it. However, you will have to work on something else. We always have a minilesson after writer's workshop. Even if it's just to allow someone to share thier story. We use it for correction and sharing. It works really great in our class. Hope it helps. If you have any more questions, you can email me at bfritts@acs.ac.