Sunday, October 25, 2009

Combine Writer's Workshop and the 6+1 Traits for Great Results

One of my favorite things to do when I teach young writers is to write with them. Just as it is important for teachers to be readers, it is also important for them to be writers. Do you write with your students? Here are a few ideas:

When your students are writing in class, at least some of the time, let them see you writing too. You can be jotting down ideas for a new action research project, making notes for your lesson plans for the future, or maybe, yes maybe, writing the same assignment that you just gave them.

Spend time celebrating writing in your class. One of the most important ways to cultivate writers is to create a classroom environment of risk-taking and cooperation instead of one where students are afraid of criticism or being made fun of. You can find something, even if it is a diamond in the rough, to celebrate in any student's writing. Give your students chances to share their writing and to cooperatively discuss revisions.

Play a game to emphasize avoidance of the "I don't say anything" word, "GOT". We use it frequently in our oral language but it is such a lazy word. Write a simple sentence with "got" as the verb and then have your students play "hot potato", tossing a ball or other object around. Whenever a student catches the object, they must give an active verb to replace "got" in the sentence. Have a brief discussion about levels of meaning (good word choice) afterwards.

For more ideas on writing, visit my columns at Another great resource is Purdue University's OWL writing lab. Til next time!

1 comment:

  1. Cathy, reading and writing are such a natural fit that I'm always surprised when either is taught in isolation. When students are introduced to the 6-traits of writing, they gain a rich vocabulary that describes both literature and writing.

    I'm going to pass along your 'Hot Potato' game to the Pre-K through Elementary teachers that are currently working with me in my online class Teaching and Assessing Writing with the 6 Traits.

    Your materials are so rich, I know we'll all benefit!

    Thanks for the good work,

    Dennis O'Connor