I don't know about you, but it seems like writing always gets the shaft in my room. I start off every year with this grand scheme to make sure my students write daily, yet when something needs to go off of my schedule, it always seems that this subject is the one on the chopping block.
Honestly, it just isn't fair to my students. They will not become better writers unless they are actually writing. So what I started to do, to ensure that they would write daily, was begin a Paragraph of the Week.
The basic idea is simple. The students are given a prompt to write a paragraph about and they have the week to do it at home. However, I knew that if I just gave my students a prompt and let them at it....all heck would break loose. They *needed* some scaffolding and a bit more accountability to decent sentences than that.
Then, and here is where I may differ from many, I have them write the body sentences. I just feel like they get a better paragraph if they start with the middle and work their way to the frames of the topic/closing sentence. They don't get so boxed in....or give it all away....when they leave the topic sentence for last (and when brainstorming and prewriting our multi-paragraph essays, this is how I do it as well, so it only made sense to me to have them write a small paragraph this way as well) I also have the students write a supporting detail sentence and then another sentence with evidence or explanations of that original sentence. Again, this gives the students a chance to really add pizazz and life to their writing.
I actually have my students color code the sentences as well. This helps them with organization (especially when we get to multi-paragraph essays).
They then put it all together for Thursday.
What I am loving about this is that my students now have a body of work that we can pull from for our writing mini-lessons. They have actual authentic writing to revise and edit in class. What I am also loving is that it is forcing me NOT to let writing slip away. I have time built into my day each day to do a little mini-lesson because I know that they will be doing writing at home. The last thing I want them doing is practicing BAD writing....so I am doing so many more mini-lessons....and their writing is getting SO SO SO MUCH BETTER. SO MUCH.
We have taken a few of the paragraphs to final draft publishing, now that they have a bunch of paragraphs to choose from. I am finding that this is also turning into a great record of their writing growth throughout the year.
HUGE 200+ page packet for you. There are 36 different writing prompts, with all the scaffolding you see in the first 18 weeks. Then the second 18 weeks switches the focus (which I plan to do in my room) to revising and editing with rubrics and checklists and all. The pack also has a one page explanation of the weekly task in case copies are a problem (I know, I know...I love copies) Anyway, if you would like the entire pack with everything done for you, it is available in my TpT store. The preview download actually has one week in it for free so that you can see if this is a fit for your room. I really, honestly am in love with this right now. I see SUCH a difference in my students, and I am sure you will too.
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