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Writing

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4th grade is THE year for writing. I introduce this fact to my incoming students during Fly Up at the end of their third grade year. The typical response is wide eyes and deep "gulps". For some writing is a chore, and about the least favorite topic in school. My first job is to get each student to believe in themselves as writers. It's a task that takes time and a lot of work, but every student leaves my class knowing they are a writer.

I started this year using the Lucy Calkins technique of finding story ideas in the special people, places, and things of our lives. From there we keep a list in our journal, and when ideas about these topics pop into our brain, we jot them down, and save them for another day, if we're already working on a story.

While conferencing with students and after the Fall assessment it became very apparent that personal narratives were not reaching their potential. So, we spent a couple days talking about how stories can be summaries rather than stories. We want to reader to feel like they are right there with us, in our story. The reader should feel what we felt inside while our story took place. Our first "polished" piece will be part of our classroom walk. Where kids will go around to each desk and read one anothers stories. Then the following month, we'll do the same with our neighboring 4th grade class. They are excited to share their stories.

After we finish up work on the state writing test in February/March, we turn our attention to producing The Panther Times, our school newspaper. I love this project, and it empowers the students with their writing. They are in charge of the whole paper, from dreaming up story ideas, to assigning stories, to laying out the sections, all the way to delivering the paper to the school classrooms. It's a great celebration of writing.


Writing

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