I was accepted into the National Writing Project 2 week summer workshop here in Washington and it was such an honor because I had heard how hard it was to be accepted into the program in New York City.
Some of the perks of this program besides all of the tools you learn to teach writing was that we each received a Kindle Fire and a huge binder full of materials for writing in the classroom.
I don’t know if you have ever tried to use a Kindle before to access Google Apps but it is a VERY confusing, confusing process. After all is said and done, now it is easier to use but my goodness… if I get these in my classroom, I will be spending quite some time setting them up to run easier.
This is only the first week of the two, but some of the important things that I have learned for my classroom are that I need to keep a writing journal as well as teaching my kids to have a writing journal. This journal is not necessarily for grading, but it is more to bring back the joys of writing, which we have lost in the classroom BECAUSE of 5 paragraph essays and writing prompts that are boring. I am totally 100% guilty on the 5 paragraph essay thing. I taught 6th grade this year and whenever we wrote an essay, it was 5 paragraphs and more. That’s how I learned to teach essays and that is what I taught. Apparently we need to move away from the 5 paragraph essay because in real life, there will be more than 5 and not always written the same way. This will be a huge change for me and I will really need to teach myself away from this.
One other important things I learned was how to use two kid’s books, “Enemy Pie” and “I Wanna Iguana” to integrate a writing lesson with reading.
“I Wanna Iguana” is a persuasive story written in the form of letters from a kid to his parents trying to persuade them to let him have an iguana, then the parents writing back to him in letter form explaining why he could not. It’s a great book to read and do a persuasive writing lesson on. One of the great things I learned from NWP(national writing project) is to do Mini-Unit lessons where I would teach 5 or 6 small lessons on persuasive writing instead of trying to do a writing piece and bring it all the way to the publishing stage every time I do teach writing. The best would be to have the kids think of a letter that they would like to write in order to persuade someone of something. If they cannot literally thing of ANY idea (happens often!) you can prompt them on recess, food in lunch room, wearing hats, anything else they can relate to, etc. and have them set a person of whom they will write their persuasion letter to.
“Enemy Pie” is a book that should be used in the beginning of the year to go with the idea of ‘friendship’. There are multiple lessons that you can do on this book, but again, a bunch of mini lessons that you can teach. Instead of rereading the book every day for each of these mini lessons, you can teach main idea, descriptive writing, sentence construction, vocab, build word banks, cause/effect, problem/solution, narrative, dialogue and it goes on. You can set up anchor charts for each of these skills for the rest of the year and this is just one book!
I was able to purchase both of these books from Amazon in the used section for $8 each total with shipping. I do have Amazon Prime, which I will tell you right now was the LITERAL best decision I have made since I use it for EVERYTHING, but I did not want to spend full price on a book so I did used, which is not Prime, and the shipping was $4 as the book was $4.
I hope this is helpful, I will post more tools I have learned from NWP.