For my last weekend before school resumes, Mother Nature has decided to dump rain on my neck of the woods by the buckets. My dreams of spending these last few hours of summer break on the Lazy River have been crushed. As if that wasn’t enough, one of my colleagues sent me a text a few hours ago. The heavy rains caused one of the ceiling tiles above my hall display to collapse to the floor and damaged what I had posted on the wall! At least I’ve been warned…I wouldn’t have wanted to start my work week with that as a nasty surprise. Well, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade – right? So instead of soaking up the summer sun at the water park, I’m publishing this post about how I introduce the writing process with my 4th graders.
Setting the Expectations
I have a basic list of writing expectations that I establish early in the year with my students. We glue a copy of the anchor chart you see below into our Writing Notebooks for easy reference. I spend several weeks during our sentence writing unit modeling and reinforcing these expectations. I consider them the “baseline” writing behaviors necessary for 4th grade students to know and be able to do when they begin the school year.
Modeling the Writing Process
For our first writing unit, I focus on having the students write a memoir of their first day in 4th grade. I chose that topic because I know without a shadow of a doubt that everyone in my class has not only had a first day in 4th grade, but it’s a very recent memory (3 days, to be exact!). Plus, it’s a shared memory so we can brainstorm together our specific details of the day. No one gets left out with this prompt.
Normally my students complete a prompt per week with a typical 5-day week. However, since this is their first writing prompt with me, I want to slow it down and model every step. To do this, I stretch out the first prompt from one week to two. Click on the link below to get a free copy of my Writing Expectations handout (you can easily enlarge it into a poster like I did in the photo above) as well as my 2-week outline for introducing the writing workshop. Happy writing!