Workshop Wednesday

I saw one post on this linky and I was hooked! I think that I will be coming back on the weekend to read EVERY single idea. So far I've gotten several new ideas on how to improve my teaching - which was my whole reason for getting hooked on blogging in the first place!!

So I'm linking up with Ideas by Jivey to share how I teach writing groups.  It's a definite must-do for any one who wants some fresh ideas!

My post will be about how I teach writing - bear with me, there are a few steps, but trust me, it's a goodie!

Firstly, check out my earlier post for how I set up my kids books.  It really makes all the rest of my teaching E-Z!!  It's all about how the kids set learning goals in their writing based on a list of achievement standards according to the New Zealand National Standards for Level 3 - year 5/6 students.  For those of you who are New Zealand teachers, I have written these expectations out for all levels 1-4, if you would like a copy send me some love in email form and I will send them out your way!

Right, onto how I teach!

Depending on what the focus is for the week/term (we normally choose a writing genre/text structure to focus on for a while) I will focus my whole class teaching around that.  All the students are present for the 5-10 minute MAX lesson on what ever small nugget of gold I want to impart into their brains for the day.  This is normally a deeper feature technique, rather than a surface technique that I am teaching.  After that I say "Right, today I am doing a mini-lesson with anyone who wants to learn about (insert mini-lesson topic here) You have 2 minutes to get yourselves to the bean table and meet me there." Sometimes I will say "Little Miss Sunshine, and Mr Grumpypants, you need to come too, because I have seen that you need some extra help in this area."  Most of the time Miss Sunshine, and Mr Grumpy have actually already made their way to the table, but this is my way of MAKING SURE, that no one is missing out on something that they desperately need.  (I get this information from reading their books the night/week before). 
I teach, they learn - bada bing!

MEANWHILE - the rest of the class is working silently.  Writing is the ONLY time in the whole day that I expect silence.  I'm quite noisy, and normally have music playing in the background.  But writing is a time when the kids need to hear their own thoughts, and they can't do that if the person sitting next to them is talking.  Depending on how calm the class has been that day, I will sometimes put some VERY QUIET music on in the back ground.  Another reason I expect them to be silent is so they can hear what is happening in the mini-lesson.  That way they learn the skill by osmosis (that's the right word aye?  I'm not a scientist) haha!  These usually last 10-20 minutes, depending on the complexity of the skill.  After which the students write independently.

While everyone is busy writing away their flippy-uppy thing is out so they can check on their goal as they work - another place I get my mini-lessons from.  

Occasionally I will get to teach 2-3 mini-lessons while the kids are writing, but mostly it is only the one.  That is still 4 mini-lessons a week, and every child is expected to attend a mini-lesson at least once a week.

Last but not least - we all gather back together and reflect on how well we achieved the learning intention, and whether we need to do a bit more work on it tomorrow.  Some LI's last a day, some can last up to 2 weeks.  

Well that's how I teach writing at the moment - Make sure to head over to the linky and see what others have to say!

Until next time 

The E-Z Class
Miss E

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