Very often, some of my students are in ELL Reading and Writing for 3 semesters. This means that I must build a repertoire of engaging texts as well as writing assignments.
This year I have added a few exciting resources to help me upgrade my Writing Workshop: Texts and Lessons for Content-Area Writing by Nancy Steineke and Harvey Smokey Daniels, the latest edition of Nancy Atwell’s In The Middle and Linda Rief’s Read Write Teach. In addition, I am following a great new blog: Two Writing Teachers. There is one more resource on the way. But more of that when it arrives.
We always break open our new composition books with lists of topics the students are interested in exploring and writing about – Atwell’s writing territories. However, this year they wrote their first list on a territory map – a place that has become their own, personal space: bedroom, basketball court, beach and book shelves
For the first couple of assignments, to get the ideas flowing and build confidence, the students chose topics from their territories. I now call these assignments A Slice of Life which is a delightful idea I read about in Two Writing Teachers’ blog. We even display an anchor chart so the students can easily refer to the expectations of this assignment.
I then looked to Steineke and Daniels for ideas on first writing assignments.
A getting to know you interview (p.26). This was a timely assignment since we had just discussed how asking high level questions deepens thinking, discussion and understanding complex texts. This was a perfect assignment to begin generating interesting, high level questions.
Students charted their own identity maps (p.32) and even managed to surprise each other with some of their personality traits.
Finally, they wrote a random autobiography.
How do you awaken the writing muse?