FAQ: When introducing the traits at the beginning of the year, what do the students do during independent writing time on those days?
ANSWER: It would appear that it might be difficult for students to generate any writing with only limited knowledge of the traits introduced. However, you definitely want them to produce something on paper during this mini-lesson series. Give them an opportunity to dabble with the trait in a daily quick-write.
- IDEAS: Assign students to write/draw about an idea (or topic) they know a lot about. The more they know about their topics, the more details they will use in their writing/drawing.
- ORGANIZATION: Assign a topic that lends itself to order. For example, have them write/draw about what they did to get ready for school that morning or how to do something or the steps in a simple process–anything that has some order.
- VOICE: Assign a topic that stirs strong emotions. For example, you could have them write/draw about an event or memory that was silly, embarrassing, or frustrating. At the top of the writing, have them indicate how they feel about the topic. The word at the top helps them remember to maintain a consistent voice or tone throughout.
- WORD CHOICE: Assign students to reread the pieces they have written over the last three days and revise the word choice within those first drafts.
- SENTENCE FLUENCY: Assign students to reread previous pieces and assess their use of long, short, and middle-length sentences. Encourage them to revise for variety.
- CONVENTIONS: Reinforce the idea that conventions are for the reader and not the writer. Consequently, have students swap any previously written draft with a peer. Have them attempt to read one another’s writing. They can check for capitals, punctuation, spaces, spelling, grammar, etc. NOTE: This may also be a great introduction to your peer-editing procedures.
In summary, these writing experiences are meant to provide students with an opportunity to dabble with a trait each day in a quick-write activity. You then have the rest of the year to fine-tune their understanding and application of the traits.