If you have been reading my blog for a while you know that I am a teacher. I am one of those obnoxious people who absolutely loves my job and am excited to go to work everyday!
I teach a wonderful (and also incredibly talkative) group of 19 fourth graders! Something that I love to teach is writing, but there are so many things I have to do during the day it is hard to fit a lot of writing in. We usually do at least one major writing piece a month. I have taught research papers, friendly letters, opinion papers and summary writing. Throughout the week we do some smaller writing projects but I wanted to find a way to incorporate it even more often.
The best way to help my students become better writers is to give them as many opportunities to write as possible! So I decided we would start doing journal writing after Christmas break. I spent some of break buying those cheap composition notebooks and attaching ribbon as books marks in them. We do journal writing directly after recess on Tuesdays and Thursdays for just fifteen minutes. I made a list of writing prompts to get us through the end of the year and put them all into a powerpoint.
On the first day back, it was a Monday so we did a read- aloud instead of writing. On Tuesday I explained the process of journaling and gave them time to decorate their journals. Thursday was the first day and they knew that their journal would be out on their desk, Mozart would be playing and they were to come right in, read the prompt on the board and begin writing. I thought I would have tons of questions or kiddos who wouldn’t follow or remember the directions. But to my surprise they all came right in, sat down and wrote for fifteen minutes without saying a single word. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, I seriously almost cried!
Now, the kiddos have finally figured out the schedule. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I read aloud from a chapter book and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, they journal. They always get excited on Tuesdays and Thursdays and say “Yes, it’s journal day!” I love that they are getting excited about writing and they work so hard during that time. I respond to what they wrote the time before and they love reading what I wrote back to them each time. I simply use this to encourage them to write and to help them get more and more writing practice. I created a NO EXCUSE list that they glued in the front of their journal and they have to check for the following things before they can turn their journal back in:
1. Capitalize beginning of sentences and proper nouns.
2. Punctuation in the correct places.
3. Use your best handwriting.
4. Indent at the beginning of a paragraph.
5. Write at least a paragraph (which is 5 sentences).
6. Have fun!
They have done a great job of this so far and I have really seen their writing improve since we started. I would highly encourage other teachers to add this into their day somehow. My students just love it and it is making a difference!
Here are a few of the writing prompts I have used.
– If you were a super hero, what powers would you want and why?
– If a genie granted you 3 wishes, what would they be? (You can’t wish for more wishes!)
– Write a Want Ad for a best friend. What qualities are important?
– What are three things you love about yourself. Why do you love these things?
– If you got to rule the school for one day, what things would you do or change?
Every other Thursday I use a picture and they are to write a story to go along with it. Here are two of my favorites we have used so far. I have just googled writing prompt pictures or found them on pinterest. They really love when it’s “Picture Thursday”.