Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ways to End an Expository Piece

A good ending is like a great dessert: it ends a delicious piece perfectly. Many students struggle with ending their writing pieces, but good endings are not rocket science. They are chosen by the writer from a list of possible ending types.  The K-5 writer should have practice with at least four
common expository ending techniques:

· Remind the reader of a piece’s major points: “Remember, if you ever find yourself in a house full of germs, drink lots of fluids, get your rest, and wash, wash, wash your hands.
· Give advice: "Take it from me, if you want to save yourself a lot of trouble, just do your chores.”
· Feelings statement: “I love the way that butterflies change during their lives.”  

Give your students a chance to create a satisfying ending by helping them master just three simple writer’s techniques. (Reader, you’ve just been reminded. J )

Yours in joyful writing education,
Susan Koehler

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Free-writing: Bringing smiles or tears?

Free-writing time should be a joy for young writers. Sometimes, though, when you announce a time for writing about anything that comes to their active little minds, students react as if they are being punished. Or tortured.  What’s up with that?

How do you handle a student with writer’s block? Or the one who finishes after two sentences? What if a student is reluctant to share his or her free-writing with you? How do you handle the writer who wants to draw? And what about the student who doesn’t want to stop free-writing and move on to the mini-lesson? As teachers, we’ve seen them all.  This Free-writing Troubleshooting Guide from The Complete K-5 Writing Workshop helps you keep free-writing in the smiles-only column!  I would love to hear how you handle free-writing challenges!
Susan Koehler

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Seven Ways to Begin an Expository Writing Piece

Ever notice the different ways that writers begin their writing pieces? I just used a question, which—along with onomatopoeia and an exclamation—is one of three hooks that young writers should have under their writing belts as they enter second grade.

By the time young writers are in third to fifth grade, they should have been introduced to many more hooks. Four good ones for expository writing are a startling fact, an anecdote, a definition, and a quotation.

Introduce these one at a time with a literature or teacher model, and ask students to try it out for a social studies or science writing assignment. As always, choose positive student examples to share during response time. What you've done works double duty: they have practiced a writing skill that is easily integrated into content-area studies and which can be applied to other genres as well. Here's a list of hooks with examples from The Complete K-5 Writing Workshop. I'd love to hear how this works for your classroom.

Yours in creative writing education,
Susan Koehler

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Practicing Setting

When young writers practice setting a scene,  describing a character, or otherwise explaining how something looks or works, they are also practicing seeing.  Writing a personal description offers a good starting place to hone this skill. As you ask them to write a personal description, set their Target Skills: use interesting descriptive attributes (adjectives for specific attributes, like size, shape, color, texture, etc.), try a comparison, use strong verbs, and begin sentences in different ways. As they begin looking at themselves and write to hit the Target Skills, they will begin to learn how to evaluate what is before them – a handy skill to have in writing, and in life as well!  Teachers of grades 3 and up can use these worksheets from my book , The Complete K-5 Writing Workshop, to scaffold and assess their first attempts. Click here for the worksheets.
Let me know how this works for you! 
Susan Koehler