At the beginning of the school year, students need time to process their thoughts so they can write them down. As the year progresses, they’ll have time during the week to find quotes or research information to enrich their work.
MONDAY Introduce the topic. Discuss it. Read aloud from books with that information. Show a video! Show images from the Internet! Fill their thoughts with ideas! As you share, have them identify vocabulary words. Post this list.
TUESDAY Ask the students to give phrases that enrich the vocabulary. Record their phrases on the board. (‘Tree’ might become ‘a forest of oak trees’) Have the students suggest sentences. Write them down.
WEDNESDAY Opening and closing sentences. Have the students look over the vocabulary and writing ideas and identify a main idea. Create opening sentences with them using that idea. Have them copy one or create their own opening sentence. LEAVE A SPACE/LINE FOR A TITLE! (For a younger group, have one opening sentence and everyone copies it.)
Discuss the role of a closing sentence. (It helps the reader know that you are done writing.) It usually relates to the opening sentence. Have the class suggest some examples. Write them on the board. They do not write/copy one yet!
THURSDAY Talk about the topics they might use. They pick their favorite sentences – or write their own – and copy them after their opening sentence. Have the students choose and write a closing sentence – or write their own.
FRIDAY Identify titles. Because they have chosen their own sentences, their titles may be different. Have them read their sentences and then have class help the reader to decide a title. List different suggestions on the board. Now, have them write the title. Some children can make a final copy. Others may ‘fix or finish‘. Anyone who is done early, can draw an illustration or read the related materials you made available. (Let them share new ideas that they find out.) (NOTE There were times when a student was allowed to make a final copy at home and illustrate it. Be sure you have a copy before it goes out the door. 🙂 )
NOTE Because so much of their work is being copied each day, encourage the students who are done quickly to add their own sentences. Have them share their results with a partner who is doing the same thing. Partners are someone of their own ability level.
As weeks go by, the writing pattern becomes clearer. Encourage using their own vocabulary and sentences. With the repetition of the same pattern and enrichment from sharing their sentences and the related materials, you will produce a classroom of grand writers.