Tag Archives: writing

Revision Techniques for Young Writers

Revision Techniques for Young Writers –
… in no particular order.

1. Ensure that students fully understand the difference between revising and editing.

2. Encourage students to put their work (first draft) aside for a little while. Come back to it with fresh eyes; as though reading it for the very first time.

3. Ask student to read their stories out loud; either to themselves or to a friend. Make sure that they are reading for meaning. What do they notice as they read? Does the story make sense? Is it missing something? Should something be removed? etc.

4. Use strong verbs, i.e. “shouted” – not “said”; “scampered” – not “ran”; “tumbled” – not “fell”.

5. Look for repetitions. Has the same word(s) been used over and other? If so think of another word or grab a thesaurus.

6. Having trouble adding detail & description?
Try these strategies:
a) Talk, talk, talk – Invite students not just to read their work to someone else, but to talk about it, go into detail, see what emerges! Laugh about it! Giggle! Play!
b) Students can close their eyes and picture their work. Ask them to consider their five senses: What do they see, hear, taste, touch, and smell?
c) Students can be encouraged to illustrate their story. Are there things in the pictures that are not included in the written work?
d) Consider adding literary devices. Is the student able to add metaphors, similes, personifications, or alliteration?
e) As the student reads each sentence, see whether he/she can come up with a question, and record it on the first draft either above the sentence with a carrot or in the margin. Then answer the question(s) in the next draft. For example:
S: “My dog is my best friend. She plays with me every morning and every night.”
Q: “My dog is my best friend. (What is her name? What kind of dog is she?) She plays with me every morning and every night.” (What do we play?)
R: “My dog is my best friend. Her name is Sonic and she is an adorable schnoodle. She plays with me every morning and every night. We love to run around in the garden and play fetch.”

7. Discuss trying to use an “active” vs. using a “passive” voice when writing.

8. Model the above strategies for and with your students – and do this a lot.

9. Finally, celebrate students’ efforts and well as their achievements. Celebrate not just the products but the process as well!


30 Ways to Encourage Student Writers — Alphabetically Speaking

30 Ways to Encourage Student Writers — Alphabetically Speaking

If you were a fly on my classroom wall you would see and hear me offering the following suggestions to teachers & parents (when asked) in an effort to encourage (reluctant) writers both in the classroom & at home … alphabetically speaking that is.


30 Ways:

1.   Authenticity – make it real & relevant

2.   Be an artist: draw stories and ideas first

3.   Brainstorming & pre-writing ideas – take the time; enjoy & play!  

4.   Break activities down into bite sized, manageable pieces

5.   Clear instructions – help to guide them

6.   Create cool, comfortable writing nooks/spaces

7.   Dear Diary – a personal journal; a personal space just for them

8.   Editing checklists – have them on hand

9.   Encourage creativity – whatever this means to each individual child

10.   Fan letters – Who are they “crushing on”? or in awe of? a singer? an athlete? an actor? Write a letter!

11.   Fun Materials – colourful pens & pencils, fancy/cool paper, notebooks, diaries, etc.

12.  Give topic suggestions & ideas

13. Hot Penning – http://www.annburnett.co.uk/hot_penning.html

14. Keep a writer’s journal/notebook – play with it

15. Letter Writing – write to a friend, a grandparent, a pen pal, etc.

16.  Make lists – grocery shopping lists, travel lists, guest lists, wish lists, birthday lists, gift lists, etc.

17.  Model, Model, Model – let them see you writing

18. Music – music & lyrics can inspire pieces of writing

19. Notes – pass notes back and forth

20.  Personal experiences and meaningful memories are good starting points

21. Pictures/Photos can inspire a piece

22. Plan, plan, plan – make sure that you/they have a plan

23. Postcards – short and sweet and fun

24. Provide opportunities to publish & share pieces

25.  Purposeful writing – helps to encourage and guide

26.  Role-playing prior to writing

27.  Share & Suggest – share & suggest ideas – help to get them going

28.   Share & Pen – do some of them writing for/with them

29. Use technology

30.  Visualization techniques

Support Your Child’s Learning Over the Summer Months

Summer Learning Opportunities for Kids

This week I was approached by a mum who asked what she could do to support her child’s learning over the summer months. She wanted to build upon all of the incredible gains made by her daughter this year. Needless to say I was really excited to hear this. All I could think was that this mum clearly knows her child. She wants to support (not push) her learning. She wants to work as a team to help “Jaymie” develop her skills in safe, supportive environments.
… & so, if you had been a fly on my classroom wall you would have seen us discussing a number of summer learning activities and opportunities.
Here’s what we came up with! Hope you find some of what’s below helpful!

(A) Reading & Writing
  • Mail – Make plans to write and receive letters all summer long (… model this for your child as well!)
  • Read, Read, Read – continue to read and discuss books, comics, magazines, menus, etc. over the summer months (… model this for your child as well!)
  • Travels: When on vacation keep a diary/scrapbook of sorts
(B) Organization / Spatial Skills:
  • Create a summer scrapbook
  • Read, draw & create maps (e.g. of vacation spots, parks, gardens, rooms in the house, etc.)
  • Graphing: graph the weather (e.g. sunny, cloudy, etc.), daily temperature,  etc.
  • Grocery shopping – Read flyers & find specials. Estimate the cost of a trip to the grocery store. Calculate the savings if coupons are used.
(C) Following Directions:
  • Build a model
  • Bake cookies, cakes, squares, etc. (measurement & following directions)
  • Cook dinner … follow recipes closely
  • Grocery shopping : allow you child to take the lead when looking for the right aisles to go down and items
(D) Critical Thinking Skills:
  • Discuss books, newspaper & magazine articles, the news, movies, etc.
  • Evaluate nutritional values listed on food packaging
  • Teach your child to play chess, checkers, battleship, dominos, boggle, etc.

(E) Math

  • Add, subtract or multiply numbers on car license plates when on the road
  • Calculating mileage & ETA when heading out in the car
  • Garage Sale – organizing the event, as well as selling/making change
  • Lemonade stand – making change
  • Restaurant – estimate the bill & calculate tip
  • Walk : identify shapes and solids in the environment
  • Note: Sites for free math games to play on the computer:
  1. http://www.coolmath4kids.com
  2. http://www.coolmath-games.com
  3. http://www.mathplayground.com
(F) Science:
  • Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt
  • Engage in gardening activities
  • Note: Find fun, easy science experiments to do at home over the summer:
  1. http://www.sciencebob.com/experiments/index.php
  2. http://www.kids-science-experiments.com/
  3. http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/homeexpts/homeexpts.html

Writing Strategy – A Snap Shot (Grade 5)

Writing Strategy – A “Snap Shot” (Grade 5)

Today in my classroom I was thrilled to see students engaged in the writing process with more independence and energy than ever before.
… & it just so happened that a colleague of mine walked passed our room as we were in full swing.
He poked his nose though the doorway (my door is always opens 😉 , remarked on their active engagement and independence, & asked me what they were doing.
I told him that they were making their way through the writing process.
“Cool …”

I explained that if he was a fly on my classroom wall, he would see this activity – and level of engagement – weekly. He would see students writing, talking and moving about the room as they develop poems, stories and short essays.

The following afternoon — at his request — I shared my program with him.


The Process:

1. Preload:

I introduce the concept – the assignment. I typically read a “related” picture book (never underestimate the power of picture books!) to my Grade 5s as they sit at the carpet. Along the way we stop to discuss the writing & illustrations. All the while we are building our vocabulary and understanding of the topic at hand. We are generating ideas, questions and “Ah-ha!” moments. Students are invited/encouraged to bring note pads to the carpet to record ideas (jot notes) along the way should they choose.
We then move on to something else totally unrelated. We leave this session for an hour or a day. We are giving our ideas time to grow and gel.

2. Playing with ideas:

We revisit the assignment. We talk a lot. We brainstorm. Before putting pen to paper we play with ideas. I provide a safe environment in which children feel confident enough to stop me in my tracks should they come across a word or concept that they don’t understand. We explore various approaches, outlines and graphic organizers. We explore the different methods that can be used to develop and organize ideas before beginning first drafts.

3. Model the assignment/the approach:

Later I follow up with students in small groups. I model the process of breaking assignments down into smaller more manageable units. Over the course of the school year school students are better able to do this for themselves. It’s a life skill!

4. Graphic Organizers:

Student are given a choice of several graphic organizers to use as a means of getting started. Once the graphic organizers have been completed to the best of the students ability they often break into pairs to share, discuss and develop ideas, vocabulary, etc.

5. First Draft:

When it’s time to write the first draft there are very few rules other that students must remain actively engaged. They must get there ideas down on paper as best they can, double-spaced and as legibly as possible. Students are not to focus on spelling or grammar, but rather on ideas, organization and voice.

7. Getting Cold:

Students then put their first drafts aside for another day … thus allowing them to get cold. The next day we return to our work with fresh eyes. (This is a surprising useful strategy!!!)

7. Writing Drafts:

What follows now are individual editing activities, peer conferences, teacher conferences, and the writing of several drafts. We focus on ideas, organization, word choice, sentences fluency, voice and finally conventions. (e.g. http://bit.ly/383tf & http://bit.ly/ieFDJl)

*** Note: As a teacher I am constantly teaching, modeling and pointing out the elements of good writing. I keep examples and models of “good writing” for student reference – some kids really benefit from knowing where they are going. As a class we develop writing rubrics together. In exploring expectations and developing rubrics together I have found that students exhibit a greater amount of ownership … they tend to buy into to, and the use and the process without question … they see it as meaningful and authentic.