We can’t believe it’s already been three months since our first blog series of the school year on creating classroom environments. It feels as if we’ve barely had a moment to catch our breaths from the whirlwind that is the launch of the school year, and here were are, already into the thick of the fall holidays.
At this point, you’ve likely established some smart routines for writing workshop and have worked hard on building a writing community. Hopefully you’ve seen improvements in your writers’ volume and stamina. Hopefully as well your students are moving through the writing process with greater independence. You might see them making riskier choices, or talking with greater metacognition about their goals as writers.
Because of the foundations you’ve worked hard to set for writing routines and process, you may be ready to turn an eye toward deeper content practice. It is for this reason we chose to shine a spotlight on information writing in our current blog series.
In this series, we are defining information writing as any kind of writing with the primary purpose of explaining or imparting information. (Though information writing and opinion/argument writing are often grouped together, the purpose of opinion writing is to convince readers of something, which necessitates a different kind of instruction.) Reports, feature articles, information books, informative websites, and lectures are some of the kinds of writing that fit in the information writing category. This genre is a fascinating one structurally, because it often contains snippets of other genres within it, including small narratives and essay-like sections, making it sometimes hard to recognize and define. The sky is the limit with it comes to information writing, so it’s important to balance instruction with a combination of grounding fundamentals and creativity-inspiring tips and mentors. This week, we aim to provide a variety of both.
Here’s a preview of the week ahead:
- Later today, I’ll kick off the series with a post about using qualities of great information writing to guide students to self-assess and set goals.
- On Monday, Betsy will teach us how to support students’ independence and choice in an information writing unit.
- On Tuesday, Stacey will blog about crafting teacher demonstration writing about a topic of personal expertise. She’ll connect this to the unit outlined in the Art of Information Writing (Heinemann, 2013) by Lucy Calkins and Colleen Cruz.
- On Wednesday, Deb will blog about supporting even our youngest writers in information writing.
- On Thursday, Dana will tackle the topic of narrative nonfiction, a sub-genre of information writing.
- On Friday, Kathleen will share tips for infusing information writing across the day.
- On Saturday, Beth will remind us that information writing need not be bland. She’ll teach us ways to help students write information books with voice and beauty, in part drawing upon techniques inspired by poetry.
- On Sunday, Tara will blog about information writing and the writer’s notebook. She’ll teach us how to help students to grow seed ideas into feature articles. She’ll include minilesson ideas and mentor text suggestions).
- On Monday, 11/9, Dana will recap the series.
Please mark your calendars to join us on Monday, November 9th for a Twitter Chat based on this blog series. The chat will run from 8:30 – 9:30 p.m. EST. Search and tag #TWTBlog to participate.
Anna is a staff developer, literacy coach, and writer, based in New York City. She taught internationally in places such as Sydney, Australia; San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and Auckland, New Zealand in addition to New York before becoming a staff developer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University (TCRWP). She has been an adjunct instructor in the Literacy Specialist Program at Teachers College, and teaches at TCRWP where she helps participants bring strong literacy instruction into their classrooms. Anna recently co-wrote Bringing History to Life with Lucy Calkins, part of the 2013 series Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing (Heinemann). She has been a researcher for Lucy Calkins, contributing especially to Pathways to the Common Core (Heinemann, 2012) and Navigating Nonfiction (Heinemann, 2010).