Teaching youngsters how to write I think is one of the hardest things about teaching first grade. Second only to…..Valentine’s Day, Halloween and the day before holiday breaks. That’s why today I want to show you how to teach transition words in writer’s workshop.
But…. Every year, right about December when they are “off the wall” and listening to maybe a third of what I’m saying, I start to panic when I see their writing. “Oh my heavens! They are never going to make it.”
“Oh God, I’ve failed them.”
“This is just horrendous.”
“Boys and girls, why are there NO punctuation marks on these papers?!!!”
“I have NO idea what this kid is even trying to say!”
And then January through April happens.
And just like that…they really are listening. Their writing becomes neater. Their sentences become longer. The content is more in depth. Their writing has voice.
Every year I want to shout from the mountains….”They GOT it!!! They finally got it!
But it hasn’t been without effort, on both of our parts. Writer’s workshop in my class is an important part of our day.
During Writer’s Workshop, students learn how to be writers. They see, hear, touch, experience, and feel writing, and in these primary grades it is here the very basic and foundational steps of writing are taught.
Here is a typical Writer’s Workshop lesson in our classroom.
On this day, we are writing a narrative. We review what a narrative is and the purpose of a narrative.
My school follows a balanced literacy model. We have adopted the Lucy Calkins model for reading and writing so we do a TON of writing about small moments.
Every Monday, we write about our weekend. I ALWAYS model in a writing mini-lesson. This wasn’t always the case.
When I first started teaching I was afraid to model writing. I thought the students would copy my writing and then it wouldn’t be their own. I’ve learned better now. Students want to please you and they want to do the right thing. Early writers especially need to know what is expected of them. They need to see the process modeled so they truly know how to do it. How do you sound out words? How do you leave “finger spaces?” Ohh…..so THAT’S what she means when she keeps saying finger spaces.
When I am modeling writing, I am writing quickly, getting my ideas down fast (clearly, my handwriting is atrocious).
I made mistakes and that’s ok. I just cross them out. I don’t waste a minute when I’m writing out my great ideas.
When I’m done, my students and I read it aloud together. Does it make sense? Do I want to make any changes?
For this lesson, we were focusing on using transition words in writer’s workshop.
After reading this anchor chart together we went through my writing and identified the transitional words with a green marker since the transitional word headers on this anchor chart are green.
We also went back to the purpose of a narrative writing chart and we made sure that I answered all the “telling” parts (who, where, when, etc.) and we identified those with a pink marker (since those words are pink on the anchor chart).
After reviewing what a narrative piece of writing is, watching it in action, and having some identifiable words to use for those tricky parts when the story shifts (beginning, middle, and end), students felt supported and ready to write their own narratives about their weekend.
Providing some sharing time at the end of the workshop allows students a time to share their writing and gives students a purpose for their writing.
Would you like a St. Patrick’s Day writing prompt for FREE that will help your students use transition words during writer’s workshop? This writing lesson is a favorite of ours! Imagine that a leprechaun gets into your school. What mischief does he/she cause and…..
how do you catch him/her?
What do you do for during Writer’s Workshop in your classroom?