When we returned to school this week, I knew I would need to revisit some of our routines. The first week in January always seems like a good time to do such things. One thing I knew I wanted to clarify was where to put writing.
In my third grade classroom, there seem to be 4 categories of writing activities – Reading Responses, Writers’ Notebook captures, Genre/project based writing, and Free Writing. So this week I set out to redefine these 4 with my students through the creation of anchor charts and practice. As we work to refine the kinds of writing we do in the four places, we created an anchor chart for each.
Our Writers’ Notebooks in particular had become a mash of full-blown stories – not simply observations, ideas, snippets of conversation that might later turn in to something more substantial. We’ve started with a new notebook this week, a notebook that students are expected to keep on their desks during the day just in case a new writing idea comes to mind. While that spontaneity has not yet been achieved, I hope my message is clear: writers need to be ready to jot down ideas at any time.
Organization, as any teacher can tell you, is where we succeed or stumble. If the structure for keeping track of materials and tasks doesn’t make sense to me personally, it probably won’t be helpful for the students. For me, and hopefully for my students, this past week’s activities has helped us to clarify and to organize tasks more logically.