Prewriting / Brainstorming
Writing every day?
“When a teacher asks, ‘I can only teach writing one
day a week. What kind of program should I have?’ the
response is, ‘Don’t teach it at all. You will encourage
poor habits in your students and they will only learn
to dislike writing.’” Donald Graves - A Fresh Look
Readers need to read every day; pitchers
need to pitch every day. If we want our students to
become confident natural writers, writing needs to
take place every day.
Everyday Writing Opportunities
Five minute write What’s on your mind?
Thank you notes for visitors
New playground rules
Responses to literature, movies
Feedback (Reader response)
Writing needs to be shared
Model how to respond appropriately to writing
Allow writers to share work often
Allow readers to ask questions
Share your writing
Teachers write in class not to impress children with
their superior skills, but to show that even adults
often have better ideas the second time around… If
Dr. Seuss writes one thousand pages to produce a sixty
page book, then surely it’s all right if a rank beginner
in the first grade has to scratch something out.
–Donald Graves and Virginia Stuart
Conference with writers frequently.
CONFERENCE, don’t FIX!
Respond first as a reader.
Ask questions (make suggestions) – don’t command.
Approach one or two teachable ideas in each piece
(don’t be too ambitious!)
Allow writer to maintain ownership.
Help the WRITER - not the WRITING!
Do NOT spend precious writing time editing everything
your students write. Your editing skills will soar,
but what they learn is minimal. Remember, our goal
is not to fill the world with perfect pieces of writing,
but to fill the world with skillful writers and editors.
STUDENTS MUST DO THEIR OWN EDITING.
Let them PRACTICE editing with actual pieces of writing
(not their own). These skills mean nothing in isolation.
It’s very difficult to find errors in one’s own work.
Use editor’s symbols.
Use editing language.
Ask students to think about why we edit.
Use environmental print as much as possible.
Do not ask students to edit each other’s work.
As a society, we allow children to speak by trial
and error. But when it comes to reading and writing,
we expect them to do it right the first time.
Let the students do their own editing as far as they
When they need help, let them initiate the request.
Hold realistically high expectations for what they
Give credit to the person who edits the remainder
of the piece.
6+1 Writing Traits
Heart of the message
Small topic; big writing
Original viewpoint on the subject
Everything ties together
Internal structure of writing Opening grabs readers’
Logical sequence of events
Transitions Stays focused on main idea
of anticipation in reader
Personality Fingerprints on the page
Writer is obviously
personally engaged with the topic.
Textual traditions Mechanics Dealt with during editing!
Rich, colorful, precise language
Strong verbs Usage
of everyday vocabulary in a fresh unexpected way
Rhythm and flow of writing Sentences vary in length
Beginnings of sentences vary
No awkward word
Makes writing fun to read aloud.
+1 Recently added Look of the published piece
How the message is “exhibited” on paper
Invites readers to begin reading
Attracts readers’ attention
Where to go from here?
Think of a writing activity you have enjoyed and felt
What skills were needed?
What questions were posed?
What writers’ problems were solved?
Not just when pencils were in hands, but also when
they were thinking like writers.
Find and store good stuff.
Keep an eye open for text materials that illustrate
qualities of the traits.
Collect as many examples as you can and drop these
examples in files by trait name for use later.
Browse through student papers
Find a STRONG and a NEEDS WORK example for each trait
you want to teach.
File these with your other examples.
Let them see your joy, excitement, anticipation, agony
at being interrupted, and all the emotions reading
Many children have never experienced that magic for
themselves. Read to students every day, at every age,
and in every class. It's an essential part of becoming
a good writer.
Build student writing files
Create a place where all writing is kept.
Discourage students from ever throwing away writing.
Identify favorite books
Practice reading passages aloud. You'd be amazed at
how much more you like the piece yourself when you
hear the words come alive.
Stop during the reading and ask kids to focus on a
Listen to other authors read (tapes, CDs, etc.).
Ex: Mem Fox's cassette tape of many of her picture
Review old favorite lessons
Which traits do these lessons reinforce?
Make new files and drop in lessons or ideas to sock
away for use later
Create editing lessons on the
Use a real piece of writing from your daily writing
activities and put it on computer.
Have students look at one convention at a time instead
of all at once like in DOL.
Allows students to master one piece of conventions
puzzle at a time.
Build a writing community
Ensure that writing time is a thoughtful, non threatening
Create a climate where opinions are valued Establish
a regular routine which includes writing for lots
and lots of purposes
Model how hard it is to write, and how scary it can
be to share
Allow students the freedom to begin all over again
Grade only what's important