writing workshop

Formal Language Continuum


There’s way more to this story than what I can process and write tonight. So this is a post with a promise. I’ll share the more of the thinking soon.

I’m working with a group of grade 4 teachers to create some meaningful learning experiences with conventions for Tier 2 intervention. It has been incredible collaboration. We are starting with a formal language continuum. Today students wore their pajamas — some of their most informal clothes — and we made a connection between the way you wear different clothes for different reasons just like you use different conventions for different reasons. They snapped photos of pajama-clad kids at the beginning of the day.

During intervention time, they gave groups of kids several snap shots. There were the Jammie photos, but also shots of kids in their concert-best from last week’s choir concert, kids in PE clothes, and kids in school clothes. They shared the comparison of conventions and clothes. Then they added their wedding pictures into the mix. Together, they added the photos to the formality continuum.

Then kids began placing different genres along the continuum. So far we have gleaned valuable insight and understanding as we delve into a deeper understanding of conventions.

8 thoughts on “Formal Language Continuum

  1. The 4th graders are really connecting with the clothing images on this language continuum. I had one student come up to me after this lesson during workshop time and said, “I think I was doing pajama writing at the beginning of the year but now I’m closer to jean and tshirt writing.” They are catching on 🙂


  2. I love this idea of connecting something like clothing that the students know well to a new idea that they are learning. I’ve been simmering a lesson in my mind this week using shoes to show that we all have different sizes of shoes just as we are all different “sizes” of writers. I look forward to hearing more of your story and sharing more of mine soon!


  3. I’ve heard of linking language to different hats we wear, but never of jumping it off with a pajama party. What a great idea to get kids excited about the work and understand the concepts. Tier 2 words I find to be the most challenging to teach; I’m interested in what you came up with to address them!


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