Monday, August 5, 2013

Starting the year with Writing Centers

Writing centers can be varied and independent, but they are very important. Making students write often creates successful writers.
First, I'm sorry it's been so long since my last post...summer tends to be busier than I hope for...but, at least it was a fun busy.  Most recently I was able to stay at a friend's beach house for 5 days of nothing (including no wi-fi), and it was wonderful.  Now, on to writing.

Yes, I have a Writing Center. But, I also have a 4 Square Center, a First, Then, Last Center, Fab 5 Center and one with Configuration Boxes.  I also require writing in my Math Center, my Social Studies/Science Center, and my Squiggle Center.

Writing is one of the most important skills a student can acquire.  I ask students to write in almost all my centers…in some capacity.

Configuration Boxes

This center is definitely a process/product center. Once they understand what is expected, this can be an early independent center. Students start by using the soudn chart as topics. The predictable text makes even the earliest learner successful.
Writing centers can be varied and independent, but they are very important. Making students write often creates successful writers.

4 Square

Sometimes going back helps you go forward.  This past year, my students were having difficulty writing 4 sentences on a topic.  I knew we had to go back to basics.  I introduced the 4 Square, developed by Gould and Gould, to my students.  We started with a simple pre-made 4 square.  They are instructed in a whole group setting to write a sentence with each box, starting with the top left, going to the top right, moving to the bottom left and going to the bottom right.  When the 4 squares are put in the center, students are allowed to choose a pre-made 4 square or use a word list to make a 4 square, but they always write 4 sentences on a topic.  4 squares MUST be taught as a pre-write, not a finished product.  As they are able, students can be taught to write more than one sentence for each block.  4 square writing is easily differentiated for students.  Students can be taught to write more than one sentence for each box.
Writing centers can be varied and independent, but they are very important. Making students write often creates successful writers.

First, Then, Last Center

This is the silliest center ever, but the students are quickly writing 3 step stories.  I use sequencing puzzles found in most classrooms. Using the puzzles, I put several Ziploc bags in the center that contain 4 or 5 puzzle sets from the sequencing box.  Each numbered 1 through 5.  I provide story book paper.  First, students choose a bag.  Then, they put the puzzles together.  Last, they choose one puzzle and write 3 sentences.  Cards with the words, FIRST, THEN, and LAST are provided in the center.  Students love it!  They even choose to write the stories during our Wipe-Off Board Center.
Writing centers can be varied and independent, but they are very important. Making students write often creates successful writers.

Fab 5

This center was also first discussed by Pat Pavelka.  This center is all about lists…Top 10 Colors, Top 10 Friends, Top 10 Red Things, etc.  Having taught kindergarten for many years, Top 10 was too hard or took too long…so along came Fab 5.  After my students write their list, they must choose one item on the list and write a sentence, or several sentences, about it.  To begin the school year, the students might write Fab 5 Friends or Fab 5 Colors.  As the year progresses, use Anchor Charts made as a whole group in the Fab 5/Top 10 Center.  Students can also use this center to Write The Room, finding words that begin or end with  a specific letter.  Another variation of this center is using a theme word, and  have the students find words around the room.
Writing centers can be varied and independent, but they are very important. Making students write often creates successful writers.

Predictable Sentences

The center is just what it seems.  The students are allowed to choose word wall phrases and word cards to create sentences. The introduction of the Big 3 (capitals, spaces, and end marks) can make this center a top choice for independence. Each week students pick new word wall words.
Writing centers can be varied and independent, but they are very important. Making students write often creates successful writers.

I love teaching writing!  It is amazing to see the students develop right in front of your eyes.  Writing needs to be taught strategically and practiced often.  It is also important for students to find success early, so that they aren’t afraid to write.

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4 comments:

  1. I love the idea of a word wall center!! So clever!

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  2. I love these ideas. I definitely think I'll find a way to incorporate "Fab 5." I also plan on "beefing up" my Word Wall Word center by requiring them to then write sentences with the words.

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  3. Thanks, Heather. I require writing sentences for everything!

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