Let's Take a Look (Author study, Day 4 of 5)

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SWBAT create closing sentences for their informational paragraphs; SWBAT make corrections and strengthen their writing with guidance and support.

Big Idea

Self-editing skills are developed over time; conferencing with a teacher is a good first step.


3 minutes

I teach writing through both whole class and small group instruction. I teach whole class lessons on some foundational skills and on writing genre (W.1.2 in this case), but these need to be followed with targeted instruction and conferences with individual students and small groups (W.1.5). Students learn writing skills at vastly different paces, and they need to internalize the characteristics of the writing genre and your requirements at their own speed. Participating in the writers' conferences will teach them what is important and little by little they will add those components by themselves. Part of the what I want to happen in the conference is that, as we repeatedly correct certain errors, such as capitals at the beginning, they will start making the corrections by themselves before handing in the papers. This will take time, and it is important to be consistent with corrections, not making too many, and focusing on the same skills until those are mastered. 

The day before conferencing with students about their writing, I take their rough drafts home, go over them and choose teaching points and student groupings. It is impossible to conference with all of them individually in one lesson, and many of the mistakes are common which lends to creating small groups. The first thing I do is sort them by the problem I see and I want to address. Then, I prioritize what I want to address and estimate how much time I will have in my daily 30 minutes of writing instruction. Once I separate the papers for conferences, I make corrections on the other papers that are farther along. This advanced group will work on their final draft while I have the conferences.

To start the lesson, I tell the class what I will focus on and assign individual work. In this lesson, I briefly went over the importance of closing sentences in a paragraph, since this was a common problem.

Small Group Conferences

15 minutes

The first group I targeted for closing sentence revision instruction was too large for the table, so they sat on the rug while I worked on the easel. In retrospect, I have to say this looked more like reteaching than conferencing. 

The second group I decided to target worked with me on eliminating extraneous information. Students who stick to the graphic organizer are succeeding at writing organized paragraphs with relevant key details, and I wanted these two students to understand this.

The third group was a single student in the third clip, who understands the text types we have covered but needs to master L.1.2.d and L.1.2.e. Self-monitoring and editing her spelling mistakes will improve the quality of her writing, and I decided I needed to focus on her. There are other students in my class who need to improve their spelling skills, but, at this time, she was the only one where the most significant problem was just the spelling.

Independent practice

10 minutes

Student who were not participating in writers' conference, were working independently to write their final drafts. As a group finished a conference they would go work on the suggested corrections. Most students completed the work during the allotted time and were ready for publishing on the next day. At the end of the day, I separated the papers that were not completed and gave those students the chance to finish and then publish.