Thursday, September 6, 2012

Authentic Writing in Interactive Writer's Notebooks

Writer's Notebooks are a BIG addition to my language arts instruction this school year.  After reading the Daily 5-I realized just how little authentic writing my students have done over the last number of years.  Years back I implemented Writer's Workshop into my instruction, but with the pressures of our testing and making students the BEST READERS, writing was probably a once a quarter kind of thing, and it was VERY decisive on my end, sadly.

NOT THIS YEAR!!!  I am bound and determined to make my students writers this year! With all of my BLOG STALKING, researching, and personal enthusiasm for the writing process, I am armed and ready with what I believe to be strategies and practices that will enhance my students' writing and creativity.  So far-we are heading down the right path. 

Yesterday was a bit of a breakthrough day-we have done a bit of brainstorming, recorded and contributed to the creations of anchor charts, but yesterday was the day when I really saw some REAL authentic thinking and writing.

I saw on a science teacher's blog how he/she does a Photo of the Day prompt.  The photo is pulled from the National Geographic website  Each day students list observations and inferences about the picture and record them in their science journals.  I LOVED THIS IDEA and decided it was a great one to tweak!  My students HAVE to know the difference between observation and inference as readers and thinkers, so I just extended the task to also TELLING THE STORY OF THE PICTURE.  I decided this would be a perfect morning starter activity on Wednesdays.

Last Wednesday was a S-T-R-U-G-G-L-E.  Comments like, "I don't get this!"  "What do you want us to write about?"  "I don't know what the polar bears are thinking."  Oh dear, hang in there...I decided that I may have better luck with photos from the Travel photography section.

This Wednesday was one of those teaching moments where you want to shout out the classroom window, "THEY GOT IT, LISTEN TO THIS!"  While having each student read their clever stories over a megaphone!  I didn't, however, but they did do an author share at the end, and many wanted to share what they had written!  WOOHOO!

Here are some pics of our work...

 Photo of the Day prompt...
Photo: Jet flying low over a beach
I LOVE this picture! Boy did it invoke some awesome inferences and stories!

Markel was killed by the plane-in his story.
 Catlyn writing away!
Naomi's family escaped the plane crash and never went back to the beach.
 Faith was a passenger on the plane and had to jump out using a parachute to get to safety.
 Jovon listing observations and inferences.
 A student's writing...
Jon had the most clever story about mutant sharks flying the plane out of the ocean onto the beach in order to ultimately take over the earth!  AMAZING, JON!

There is more work to be done with my student writers, but our interactive notebooks are headed in the right direction.  While I know there will be additional creative road blocks, sometimes it just takes that one moment of success for students to realize they can do something!  Today, authentic writing it was!!!  Way to go 6th graders!

If you are looking for an all-in-one resource for writing CCSS, here is my latest creation...

Here is a sneak peek at next Wednesday's Photo of the Day prompt...
Photo: Gingerbread cookies



At Friday, 07 September, 2012 , Anonymous Bailey said...

Hi Mrs beers I love your idea! Even though I'm not in 6th grade I still check here all the time. Well I love the new site design and have a great weekend Mrs beers! Tell Mr z and Mrs burns I said hi to them too haha :)

At Saturday, 08 September, 2012 , Blogger Erin Beers said...


How I miss you! I hope you are loving 7th grade! You were a superstar 6th grader! Come back to visit us! I love seeing your face across the street as you pick up your brother and sister each day! Have a great weekend!

-Mrs. Beers

At Sunday, 09 September, 2012 , Blogger Megan @ I Teach. What's Your Super Power? said...

Wow! What an awesome idea! I will definitely be stealing this one. So glad I found your blog.


I Teach. What's Your Super Power?

At Sunday, 09 September, 2012 , Blogger Ms. Gonzalez said...

How much time do you give them for this?

At Monday, 10 September, 2012 , Blogger Erin Beers said...


I LOVE the blogging full of great ideas to utilize. I am glad I found this one myself. I am a new follower of your blog! Have a great week!


At Monday, 10 September, 2012 , Blogger Erin Beers said...

Ms. Gonzalez,

My goal is to get the time down to about 10 minutes as a morning starter and then allow for students to work on it later in class during the Daily 3 if they are not able to add as much as they would like. My stress to them with writing is that no piece is every truly finished, so they can come back and add details or more content at anytime. Lastly, at the very end of class, I will allow the last 5-8 minutes for an author share. That is my GOAL! The last two weeks it has taken about 20 minutes and we have shared right away. So about 30 in all. I know this part of the year is about establishing routines and excellent practices, so I am wiling to take some additional time to make that happen. Thanks for checking in and asking questions. I hope this works out for you!


At Monday, 10 September, 2012 , Blogger Ms. Gonzalez said...

Thank you so much Erin!
I just introduced my students to your I-PICK/ "Good fit" book concept and they got a kick out watching me attempt to try and fit into various shoe sizes. Friday we will be making mini-music videos using your song so they're really looking forward to that. I'm still wanting to do so much with them in regards to reading and writing, but I feel very overwhelmed as to where to even begin.Thank you again for all your help.


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