The Open Pencil Box » a little box of inspiration for you + them

Sneaking MORE writing into your day



I would definitely say that writing is my weakest link as a teacher. It wasn’t always this way though. When I taught kindergarten I did writer’s workshop and LOVED to teach writing. It was just fun. Then I moved up to second grade and all the sudden the standards and curriculum for writing were real—real overwhelming! I had to teach my students how to write informational paragraphs and topic sentences.   I also noticed a huge divide in my student s when it came to writing. They were either very good writers, or they weren’t good at all, or they were ok and would just do the bare minimum to get the writing done. Out of 25 kids one or two of them would love writing. Needless to say, when it came to writing in my classroom—the struggle was real. I had to get creative to try to figure out more ways to get writing snuck into my day. Exciting ways so that my students wouldn’t shut down and scribble two sentences on a page and declare they were done!

  1. Bell-work– As usual, the beginning of my elementary school day consists of attendance, lunch count, random record keeping, talking with parents. My kids learn from day one their own routine. They know to come in quietly, unpack and begin their bell work.  The bell work has review problems in both ELA and math on it. But in all honesty it’s just busy work to keep them occupied. So mid-year it dawned on me. Why don’t I have them journal writing during this time instead?  It would cut down on copies (an outstanding reason alone!) And it’s a super easy way to sneak in additional writing.
  2. Weekly writing contest– Our ELA textbook (Journeys) comes with a short, read aloud to read to students at the very beginning of the week. This read aloud incorporates the weekly vocabulary words in it so that students can hear them in context before they begin to learn about them.  You can use any read aloud you choose, but don’t finish it. Leave them hanging at a great point and ask them to finish the story. They can work on it in their daily 5 work on writing time or writer’s workshop time throughout the week. Make this a contest due by Friday and read samples as they come in to get them excited about it. Or tell them you had a dream where this and this happened– to help spark their imaginations throughout the week. Give an award for the best story ending on Friday—and don’t forget to finish the original read aloud!
  3. Homework– writing this post made me think hard about this one. I have so many parents that often ask how they can help their children in writing. My response is always “journal writing.” Well now that I have kids of my own I know that that’s just not really going to happen in real life. (Ain’t no one got time for diaries in 2015.) However, if their teacher assigned them a prompt to write a page to each night for homework….Well then I would make sure they sat down and did their writing. So assign writing for homework!! Why have I not been doing this for the past ever? UGH
  4. Brainbreaks– How can you do writing for a brain break? Do a quick write where the kids get a prompt and they only have 2 minutes to get as many words on the paper as possible. Or do a “drop everything and write” (similar to drop everything and read, except they write instead.) A favorite I love is musical writing. Just like musical chairs the kids go around until the music stops then they sit and write for a couple minutes. When the music starts back up again they have to begin walking around again until it stops. Then they have to sit down at the next random desk. They read what story is on this paper and continue it. This gets so much writing out of them and the stories are so terrible that they are a favorite for everyone to hear.
  5. Classroom Letters– When I taught kindergarten we would take the time out each week to write an email home to a student’s parents. The kids would sit on the carpet and we would discuss all the wonderful things we liked about a particular kid and I would pull up my email on the overhead and type as the students told me what to write. We did a different student each week. We enjoyed doing these letters together so much I want to work on getting classroom pen pals for my class next year.
  6. Pen Pals– Who doesn’t love getting mail?

I’m still figuring out ways to become a better writing teacher in second grade and to inspire my students to write more. Please share any tips you may have to get more writing snuck into your day!


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