This week my kiddos will complete their second nonfiction chapter book. One of my major focuses for this second cycle through the writing process was to embed more authenticity and purpose into the writing process.
To center purpose and authenticity, I decided to:
- Focus on the Writing Process — Several times through each of my minilessons, I aimed to name the stage of the writing process that most kids will be in during that day’s workshop. My kiddos had a lot of confusion between planning, drafting, revising, and publishing. I wanted to make sure that I clarified the various steps, why we might use them, and how they help us in our writing. I’m so happy that most of my class (not everyone yet!) can now discuss where they are in the writing process.
- Set Clear Expectations & Goals –Before my kiddos began revising, I distributed a packet that would help them gain a clear understanding of where they are and where they need to go with informational writing. This packet contained:
- The draft & published versions of their first nonfiction chapter books.
- A writing checklist that focuses on the qualities of writing. I use the Up the Ladder Informational Checklist created by my former colleagues at TCRWP.
- A writing process checklist that I created. You can find it here.
- Provide an Authentic Audience –For their first nonfiction book, I surprised my class by taking them to go read their books to third graders. For our second book, my kids knew right from the start that they would be expected to read their books to younger kids. The difference I have seen between the first and second cycle through the writing process is immense. Most of my class is driven to make their book the best it can be.
- Reflect on Growth — After each writing piece, my students create a flipgrid video in which they discuss what they’ve learned. They might talk about a strategy they’ll be SURE to use next time OR something they did that they will NEVER do again. I provide some possible talking points, but nothing is mandatory. These largely freeform videos provide me insight that a rubric can never provide. I also ask each writer to read aloud a page from their story. Kids who are the quietest sometimes become the biggest ham in front of a camera! I was smiling ear to ear when I sat down to watch these.
As I move into my next unit, I’m going to continue to focus on the items above. If these ideas can be helpful in your classroom, try them out and let me know how things go!