mentor texts · shared writing

A Fall To-Do List for Shared Writing in Your K-2 Classroom

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You’ve introduced a few of the important routines and expectations in your classroom, slowly and deliberately at first. For example, you probably have taught (or will soon teach) a routine for moving from tables to the meeting area in your classroom. At first, you invite students to come to the classroom meeting area just a few at a time, making sure to give tons positive reinforcement for pushing in chairs, walking calmly, sitting comfortably at the carpet. When your group seems to have the hang of this, you move up to inviting a whole table of students to the meeting area at once. And eventually, perhaps after a few days (gulp) you *might* be ready to invite the whole class to simply come to the rug.

There are so many of these routines to consider at the start of the year, and just when everyone is getting the hang of these things, along comes Labor Day Weekend, and when children come back to school, whooosh, we’re starting all over again.

And that is okay, and totally normal, and it’s all part of working in an elementary school.

However, there is one thing you can do to help. Shared writing. Creating a few simple charts, together as a class, will help your students (and you) remember and better understand some of the daily routines and rituals. And the best part is, it will also serve to support students as readers and writers.

If you aren’t familiar with the basics of shared writing, no problem–just click here to get caught up.

Kindergarteners and I created this list through shared writing. It supports community building, works as a mentor text, a text to read independently, and a source of ideas to write about. I only wish I had added picture clues!

For example, if you create a few simple “How-To” charts early on in the year, these can be brought again during your information writing units as mentor texts for writing How-To books for kindergartners, or a chapter in an information book for first or second graders.

An “All About School” book, with a page for each part of your school day, can be a great way to guide discussions about how the school day goes, and introduce what to expect across the school day. It will also make a great mentor text later in the year!

When that first fire drill comes around, this will make the perfect story to write as a class story, a small moment written with lots of detail. Later, you can use this story as an example of strong narrative writing.

First graders helped me to write the story of our first labsite! Kids talked with partners, then I wrote down their ideas.

Not only that, but the best part of shared writing is that all of your students can read these texts. Your whole class contributes ideas to the text while you handle the hard part – writing the words on paper. As you and the class compose the text, you can guide them to do a lot of rereading to make sure everything is making sense. By the time you’ve written a short text, the story is so familiar that it becomes a just right text for every student.

Here are some ideas gathered from teachers for shared writing ideas to do this fall, that you can stow away for later in the year. You would adapt the topic, and level of detail to the ages and stages of the children you teach.

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For a printable version, click here: Shared Writing Ideas

Instead of waiting until April for poetry, for example, we could be sprinkling it across the year through shared writing. Instead of waiting until mid-year for informational writing, we could be introducing the basics of it in small pieces leading up to the unit. Then, when a new unit of study arrives, kids will already have a few familiar whole-class texts they’ve worked on as prior experience with the genre.

As a literacy coach, year after year, spring rolls around, and I wish that I had done a better job supporting  more classrooms to create and save class mentor texts earlier in the year. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we had made a class book/written letters/poetry/how-to/you-name-it?” Then we would have those texts to draw upon.

Maybe this will be the year I do a lot more shared writing!

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