Sunday, September 10, 2017

Setting Writing Goals



The first few weeks of writing workshop has gone well. We are keeping writers' notebooks and beginning to learn from other writers.  I feel like our workshop runs well when kids have as much choice as possible. As a community, when kids are doing different things in their notebooks, we learn from everyone and I find it easier to teach into that than a workshop with no choice. The challenge is always giving choice while also making sure kids are growing and learning the things they are supposed to learn in 5th grade.  So early in the year, there are a few things that I want my 5th graders to know.  I want them to see writing workshop as a time for them to learn new things/try new things/grow as a writer. I want them to see the things they learn in mini lessons as a kind of menu--as options to help them grow as writers. And I want them to have a voice in how they grow as writers--which things that we are learning are things that they need as writers?

Lots of the mini lesson work we've done is about what is possible in a writer's notebook. So we've read various pieces and learned from each. I didn't go in knowing what kids would notice from each piece--I just trusted that if I pulled a variety of pieces, kids would notice things that we could then build on. I wanted to give them lots of opportunities to think about what writers do and how they might use that in their own writing. So I chose lots of different pieces and after each one, we talked about what they noticed about the writing--what did the writers do that they liked?  I used many pieces from these books.  I imagine these beginning-of-the-year conversations will be anchors throughout the entire year.


So after a few mini lessons I started a board in the room to scaffold kids' learning a bit. The board had covers of the books we'd read and a reminder of the ideas we talked about in each--what we noticed the writer had done. As we added more mini lessons, the board grew. Then I added a few copies of student work--samples of things they'd tried using something from a mini lesson--and those went in the appropriate spots on the board.  The board continues to grow and it is a great way for kids to remember what we've learned, the books we learned from, and the idea that they may want to use these ideas to grow as writers.

This week we used the board to start conversations around goal setting. Our minilesson focused on really looking at the list of the things we'd learned (adding dialogue, stretching out a moment, similes to describe something, describing someone you know in a unique way, setting the scene with a strong paragraph, etc.).  We quickly went over the list and thought about what one thing we might focus on-one thing we wanted to try out in our writing over the next few days, one thing that might take us out of our comfort zone. Kids took a sticky note, added their name and a specific idea and then placed it where it belonged on the board--making public their goal for the next few days. This allowed me to have quick conversations with kids as I bopped around the room. It also allowed me to see across the class and to see where kids were focusing their work.  Most importantly, this gave kids a low-stress way to look at the list of mini lessons as a menu that will grow with the year. A way to think about the ways they can use what we learned to make their writing better while still having control over their own writing.

We'll continue to think in this way for a few weeks--thinking in short bursts of goals and practicing using the minilesson work that will most help our writing. Then we'll move on to goal setting within a unit of study and beyond. I am excited to see how this group of writers grows!

2 comments:

  1. Thank you Franki :) "We'll continue to think in this way for a few weeks--thinking in short bursts of goals and practicing using the mini lesson work that will most help our writing. Then we'll move on to goal setting within a unit of study and beyond. I am excited to see how this group of writers grows!"

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  2. I am working to set writing goals for myself too, Franki. Please be sure that your students know we ALL do this. Writing can be hard...and goals help us keep our brains growing. If your young notebookers would like to collaborate on a post for Sharing Our Notebooks, I would love to host them. xx

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