Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Practice for Power Through Power Writing



In class we continuously practice our reading and writing skills. Writing is hard for some students -- it is not easy to get those ideas from your head into your hand through your fingers and out the pen onto your paper. But, as Donald Murray, writing teacher guru and one of my heroes says, "Writing is hard fun!" Once you've created something on paper or online -- it's yours! No one else created it! It belongs to you! It feels wonderful! It feels powerful! So it's important to discover ways to encourage writing so students feel the creative authorship, and to develop writing fluency.

How do we teach writing fluency? For that we turn to another writing hero, Peter Elbow. Just as students practice shooting baskets, students must also practice writing: So we Power Write. We set a timer; at the beginning of the year we start with two minutes, but we've moved up to four minutes now.

Students choose from a list of topic words ( this slideshare, on the board, in their folder, and in their minds); they may write on any topic and change at will.

The point is that when I say, "Thinking, thinking, ready, set, write" that each student writes for the entire time. If students can't think of what to write during this time, they still keep writing the last word they wrote over and over again until a new idea pops into their mind.

When the timer chimes, students may finish their sentence and then count up the number of words written, recording that number in their journal and on their Power Writing chart.

Next we share out our word count by standing up as I ask, "Who has written ten words or more? twenty words or more?"... and so on. If I forget to ask them to stand, students ask to do this.

We repeat this process two more times, each time recording their word counts to see improvement.

After writing, each student circles his/her favorite part to read with a partner. We also edit that part for capitals, periods/question marks, missing words, and misspelled words. Other options for science, social studies, and reading are also part of power writing strategies (and included in the directions for Power Write).

After learning revision strategies, we can also practice Power Revise with the part that was circled -- we just keep learning how to be fluent, flexible writers.

So, with a chance to write on their own topic choices, and time to write fast, students do develop fluency. Zack wrote over two hundred words during one of his timed writings to day. We are developing our fluency! And it is fun!  You should try it!




CCSS
 
5 With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying
a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards


10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

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