beginning of the year round up

oh, august. the sunday night of the summer.

our hope is that this august has brought rest  and summery things rather than frantic prepping for the school year ahead. and, if you’re in a place that school doesn’t start until after labor day, we hope that august starts to slow for you a bit and you soak up every minute of freedom left. to those of you who have started or are starting in the next two weeks: we hope the start has been smoother than anticipated.

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celebrating reading

if you’re a teacher who uses the writing workshop model, chances are that you build a day into your writing unit of study for a celebration. celebrating is an important part of the writing process – and a step that we include on our writing process anchor chart. while there are, of course, plenty of types of writing that never get shared with anyone beside the writer, celebrating the work we’ve done and sharing our writing with others is important. it gives us a chance to reflect on our work and acknowledge the work and growth we’ve done as writers. it also helps to make our writing more purposeful, as the celebration is often the first chance to share the writing with its audience.

but, what of reading?

we believe that reading work and reading growth is also something to be celebrated, and that time needs to be built into our reading units of study for this just as it is for writing.

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using oral storytelling to support small moment writing

our year begins, like many others’, with a focus on narrative writing. our students are asked to write small moment personal narratives – that is, a true story from their life that happened in 20 minutes or less.

every year, our on demands (the pre-assessment writing piece) confirm that our two biggest goals for our first unit of study are to make sure that everyone is able to zoom in and write smaller than they were able to at the beginning of the year, and also that they write in the moment, like the story is happening now. this is the second post in a series that addresses how we support our students in this small moment writing.

teaching students to tell stories orally using the types of details that we expect in their written stories supports their writing because it helps them begin to think with a storytelling voice and gives them a chance to rehearse how their stories might go before writing them.

we launch storytelling a few weeks into the year with monday headlines, something that we’ll do every monday morning for the rest of the year, usually as our morning meeting on mondays (when our schedule allows for that). we also teach our students that oral storytelling is a way to rehearse their writing before drafting, and give students chances and space to do that with partners in class.

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