Every teacher has that subject that they avoid. We know that we must teach it, but do so with less passion and not as frequently as we should. Writing used to be that subject for me. I wasn’t 100% aware that I was neglecting this area of instruction and I definitely did not want to take anything away from my students. I have learned through experience and farthing my education that writing is an essential part of the learning process. In fact, studies have shown that writing 30% of the ELA block is a key component to making a years worth of growth within the school year. Unfortunately when I look back, I have not always been a strong writing teacher. I began my career feeling confident with my behavior management skills, my abilities to collaborate with my colleges and was certain I was up to the challenge of teaching the standards for which the state demand. I soon learned that even though I had attended college and received my BA in education, I was not as prepared as I needed to be.With help of colleges, especially an amazing TA, I was able to help my students gain the knowledge necessary for them to make amazing growth in reading and math. However, after participating in several master’s courses, I look back and wonder how exactly my students made the growth they did and shutter to think of the gaps that were left do to my inexperience.
When I moved from primary to 5th grade I knew that the curriculum was going to be harder. I was going to need to fix some of my weak areas such as, grammar, spelling and writing. I had never considered my self a writer or felt confident enough to share my own writing, in any form, with others. In school, I was not required to really write until college and then I only felt my work was mediocre. Due to this insecurity, I often set aside little to no time in my lesson plans devoted to writing. I told myself that the writing activities we were doing would be enough to meet my students’ needs. I justified my actions further, by using a very true problem that exist in the classroom, I did not have enough time in the day. Throughout the school year I felt myself feeling guilty about the lack of writing instruction my students were receiving and over the summer I had decided that my students deserved more.
At the beginning of the school year, I assigned a notebook to every student. We called this notebook their writer’s notebook. At the start of every class, students will be given some direction, either a topic that matches a literary or social studies objective or I will model a strategy to help them write independently later. At the beginning of the year, I was determined to add writing into my daily routine, but was still unsure of my self and if giving up that much time a day to writing would be beneficial for my students. I soon saw that my worries were misguided. My students writing fluency have increased tremendously, as have their writing as a whole.
Within students’ notebooks, we have focused mainly on writing about one’s self. The purpose of this was to become comfortable getting our ideas down on paper. Then my goal was to help develop pre-writing strategies for students to use when a teacher isn’t there to help. Towards the end of November are writing changed. We began using those strategies to write about non-fiction subjects. When studying about Native Americans, students wrote using multiple genres. They created a presentation, a comparative essay and a two-voice poem. This week students wrote two different stories. Each story had the same characters and the same events, but were written in two different perspectives.
I achieved my first goal of making writing part of my daily routine, building my students’ confidence in their writing abilities and developed their writing fluency. While I believe I have made tremendous gains in my ability to teach writing, I feel I still struggle in some areas. I am comfortable with the amount of fictional works my student’s have created, but I need to steer my students more in the direction of writing in an expository format. I also know that my students are not understanding the fundamentals and how to structure their writing. I also need to add conferencing with my students to help them gain a different set of skills.