Saturday, September 15, 2012

Big Smiles and Writing Workshop

Big Smiles:

Even though I am exhausted at the end of the day, almost every day in our three weeks of school have had so many more great moments than bad.  I am having a fantastic year so far!  Great group of kiddos, and I know so much more about what I'm doing this second time around.  It feels great, and I can honestly say this year that I am LOVING being a teacher and am looking forward to work each day.  I am so happy!

Ok, so on to one of those great things going on in my classroom this year:  Writing Workshop

Now, I LOVE writing.  I was a creative writing major.  I was the kid with a notebook full of stories from the time I could write.  And this year's group (at least many) seem to be on that page with me.  Writing Workshop was the last part of our normal routine that I got going.  By Back to School Night, we had only done two days of writing and still about a third of my class wrote that it was their favorite part of 4th grade in their note to their parents.  My kind of kids!

I've been taught how to teach writing to kids by multiple people who have read and/or been trained in Lucy Calkins, so if you're familiar with her writing instruction, I bet you'll see pieces of it in mine!

We stared off making lists of important people, places, and events.  Lots and lots of lists.

Then we talked about Seed Stories and Watermelon Stories.  This lesson went FABULOUS!  They seemed to really get it, even my space-cadet kiddos!  I started by group brainstorming a description of a watermelon.  Then, I told them we were going to focus on two parts of it - that watermelons are big and have seeds (both of which were on our list).  I modeled the beginning of a boring watermelon story (it was about 2 minutes and we didn't even get to Disneyland in the story).  At this point, about eight kids were practically jumping up and down because they got it before I even talked about seeds.  So, I had one of them explain seed stories.  We wrote in our notes just a few things about seed stories and then worked together to find a few seed stories out of our watermelon ideas.  Last, students used the worksheet below to find the seeds in their watermelon ideas.  They wrote the watermelon idea on the rind and then seed ideas in each seed.  It worked great!  They "wrote" for 22 minutes that day - blowing our last stamina record out of the water.  I love that it validated their watermelon ideas and helped them realize they could write about so many different parts of their trip or memories.  I had to make extra copies because they want to keep finding seeds!
Font: Oh {Photo} Shoot by Kevin and Amanda
Watermelon: Coloring page from (© Sherri Osborn -
Click the picture to go to my google doc!

Now we've mapped out our stories using pictures and started writing descriptive "snapshots."  The kids can consistantly write for about 15 minutes now!

My only challenge with writing is that they are so worried about doing it "right" that a million hands go up as soon as they start practicing.  I'm really trying to get them to just write, but I'm having a hard time getting the idea across to them that if they are writing, it isn't wrong!  Do you have any tips for getting this idea across? 


  1. I loved reading your information about Writing Workshop. This is the one area that I know I need to grow in. I'll be excited to follow you to hear more about your writing instruction! I'm definitely downloading the watermelon graphic organizer!

    BTW - I saw your post on Rowdy in Room 300's giveaway! I am also hosting a laminator giveaway! Double up your chances! :) Come check it out if you get the chance! :)

    Sensational Seconds

    1. I'm glad you found this post and graphic organizer useful!

      I'm heading over to your blog now :)