I thought I had taught the BEST writing lesson and knew the kids could get right to work. Then, from the corner I hear, What do I write?”, “What am I supposed to do now?” ARE YOU KIDDING? WE JUST TALKED ABOUT IT FOR 10 MINUTES AND YOU COPIED IT DOWN! I got sick and tired of hearing that in my classroom and found a way to create independent writers!
Once we have created a Thinking Map for our thinking process, we simply read our maps to our friends! We call it “Talking Off the Map”.
Depending on the time of year, we may have drawn pictures, written in sentences starters, or written out our own complete sentences.
I ask the students to read their Thinking Map aloud to several partners (some days I say two, some days they keep reading until I ask them to stop).
Each student finds a partner (obviously we go over partner etiquette early in the year with how to find a partner and what it means to be a good partner), listens to their partner read, then gets to read to their partner. Their partners have been trained to point out if they forgot to read their introduction sentence or something else. Then they are off on their merry way to read to someone else!
Once the time is up and they have read to different partners, I hand them a paper and off they go to write it out! I seriously NEVER get asked, “What am I supposed to do now?” and questions of the like. Our writing time has really become such a fun and peaceful time for us!
This has also been an amazing opportunity for my English Language Learners to practice! They have something to read of their own so they feel more confident. They are learning sentence structure, intonation, and just getting that good ol’ English language practice!
*Note: We did this whole group with examples SEVERAL times/weeks before they are allowed to complete it on their own. They must know the process before just heading out there. If I did’t train them, there would be chaos!
It’s quite a simple idea, but works like a charm to create independent writers. My students really do LOVE to do this part in their writing and I have seen it help the most reluctant writers and English Learners as well!