Are you ready for more writing about reading in your classroom?
I was recently asked to do a presentation for new teachers on the new Common Core ELA standards and how to fit it all in to our dwindling ELA block. The major issue that most teachers have is trying to fit in all different types of writing throughout the school year. I do this in my classroom by incorporating a lot of writing into our reading block! Most of these ideas work best in the upper elementary grades, but many can be modified for you primary teachers!
Why should you incorporate more writing in your reading block?
Somewhere down the line, reading and writing seems to have been separated. The simple truth is: reading & writing happens in every subject. Writing about what you’re learning helps you retain that information. In addition, you can check off multiple standards in just one lesson!
How do you incorporate more writing in your reading block?
1. Short response paragraphs are a great way to help students use the content vocabulary to dig deeper into text. It also gives you a great opportunity to throw in some editing practice. We edit everything we write – no matter what subject we’re in! It takes 1-2 minutes, and I’ve seen a huge increase in correct spelling and usage in the assignments my students turn in.
2. You can’t get any more high interest than a project-based learning activity. In ELA, we do project-based learning where students have a choice of what they want to learn more about. They choose a famous woman to inquire about, or even a discipline within the topic of Ancient Rome that they want to further their skills in. When you ask them to write about a topic they have chosen, you can get even the most reluctant writers interested. These projects allow me to teach the structure of a formal informational essay in a way that doesn’t bore them to death!
3. Rewriting stories allows for students to learn the plot elements and practice their own creative writing. It’s much easier to begin writing when someone has already set up the basic story structure for you! Afterwards, you can have students write their own story on the same topic. It’s all about easing them into creating their own stories using the correct structure.
4. Struggling readers? Start by reading them a mentor text while they write about one detail from it. Then have them re-read the text with a partner. If you can get them to do this confidently, you can move into more difficult text as the year progresses. This is a great way to incorporate more writing into your small groups or with your ELLs!
I also use these reading response paragraph organizers with mentor text and leveled text (below, at, or above grade level depending on the student). It allows me to easily differentiate using different text and a simple, but detailed organizer for each literature standard.
5. Have them write at home. I assign reading homework that not only requires students to find textual evidence, but write short paragraph responses. This is a great way to have students practice what they’re learning at school without having to burden parents with difficult to understand homework.
I am always in search of more ways to make writing happen in my classroom. Please leave a comment if there is something you do in YOUR classroom to incorporate more writing!