With only two months left of school, I am trying to narrow down what I want I feel is most important to still cover. There are always so many things I feel we never get to. One of my goals is to do as much informational, narrative, and persuasive writing as we can. I am going to try to rotate through them and do at least one of each each month if we can. Thus, they will get 2 more of each. I want to cover a lot of poetry this month as well.
We also are going to start mystery novel units (literature circles) this week. I want to do a mystery unit this month, and one more novel or nonfiction unit next month. I probably will have us to at least one of each type of writing with the book units as another way to incorporate reading and writing together.
Last week we did persuasive letters. I let them pick the topic of their letter and who they wrote it to. Persuasive letters are a great way to review persuasive writing along with the parts of a letter. We brainstormed ideas for our letter in our writing journal. Once they picked their topic and three main points, we used Read Write Think's Persuasive Map to plan out our letters. I told them the letters had to be 5 paragraphs. Here is a picture of my persuasive map:
Here is the persuasive map for one of my students:
We brainstormed one day, created persuasive maps the next day, and then spent the next two days drafting. I like to encourage my students to edit while they draft. I want the writing process to be authentic. Most of us do not plan, write, then edit and then revise. Most of us plan a little, write a little, and make revisions as we go. Writing evolves as your thinking through a topic.
I wrote my letter to my cat to ask him to be less annoying. When we do major writing assignments, I like to model my own writing and planning process. Last week there were several linky parties on writing workshop. I really wanted to join, but ran out of time to blog several days last week. One of the linky parties was on Mentor Texts. One of my favorite websites for mentor text writing lessons is Writing Fix. I will be honest with you though. I have seen more growth from my students in their writing when I take the time to model my own writing and writing thinking process.
After I modeled writing my persuasive letter to my students to my cat, many of them chose to write to their own pets. At the beginning of the year, many of my students could not write a cohesive paragraph. Now many of them wrote a 5 paragraph persuasive letter with introduction, 3 body paragraphs, and conclusion. I love seeing the growth in students, especially in writing. It is an area many students struggle with. When I model my own writing, I do not always finish the piece. I usually write with them while they are writing for the first ten minutes or so, and then I circulate and help my students. I do not have a document camera, but when I did I would model writing from my own writing journal. Now, I just type and project my computer screen for them to see.
I really would like to do more formal conferencing; however, I have found sometimes by modeling and explaining my own thought process I can convey one message that many of them will get that then I do not have to try to explain individually. Then after the initial draft, I can conference and help them individually where they need help.
This was as far as I got modeling my own persuasive letter, but I was able to show them three paragraphs where I modeled how I would use empathy as a persuasive strategy as part of the process to convince my cat to make some changes. As we work on revising for a final draft, I will finish the last two paragraphs to show them.