Thursday, May 4, 2017

Remarkably Easy Strategies for Organizing and Structuring Writing

Welcome to our book study of The Writing Strategies Book:  Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers by Jennifer Serravallo!  I am joining forces with some other fabulous teacher bloggers to discuss the writing strategies we come across in this AMAZING professional text!

Because this book isn't your typical professional development book filled with individual "chapters" of narrative, each teacher blogger will be giving you a glimpse into the 10 goals that are represented in the text.  Each goal area is filled with many valuable strategies that will help you to support and guide your students as they become better writers.  Keep in mind, we are only highlighting a FEW strategies in each section.  There are over 300 strategies in the whole book!

I'm loving it!  This collaborative book study is empowering me to become a better teacher of writing.  After reading a few of these posts, you may want to purchase your own copy of The writing Strategies Book:  Your  Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers, by Jennifer Serravallo. Just click on the clink or picture to go Amazon.
Today we are covering Goal 5:  Organization and Structure.  If you missed the earlier goals, you can catch up here:

To begin, I'd like to remind readers that writing is "one of those areas I'm working on".  It is an subject that I strive to be better at.  My school just began using Writing Pathways: Performance Assessments and Learning Progressions, Grades K-8 by Lucy Calkins (2014), which is an excellent program.  Like all new programs, (we did two new programs this year - math and writing), it was a tough beginning. To be honest, there were times I felt like I was drowning.  We jumped in with both feet and gave it our best.  Now that I have finished a year of it, I can now see a bigger picture.  I have so much room to improve, but I know I can do it. Reading Jennifer's Writing Strategies book is helping me connect the dots with what I already knew about writing and the new strategies I had learned from Lucy Calkins.

This quote by Jennifer Serravallo jumped out at me as I began reading Goal 5 and helped me really picture the organization and structure of writing.

Why is this goal important?

Organization is more than just "planning".  It shapes our writing just like a skeletons shape people and animals so we can recognize them and understand them.

Is it right for my student?

We want to think about the ways to organize and structure our writing as progressions in narrative, opinion, and informational writing.  The author lists the different structures for each type of writing and the corresponding grades on pages 163-165.  There are 40 strategies for organization and structure.  I can't hit them all, but I would like to focus on a few.

Say Say Say, Sketch Sketch Sketch, Write Write Write 

Strategy 5.2 for (K-2) jumps out at me.  At the beginning of the year I like to participate in the Imagine This ... writing contest  which is conducted by the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.  For more information, CLICK HERE to see an earlier post.  This strategy works for any genre or text type.  It focuses on rehearsing and drafting. 

Students writing for the Imagine This...  contest really struggle with the timing of crops growing.  If they use the Say Say Say, Sketch Sketch Sketch, Write Write Write strategy as they plan, rehearse, and draft their stories will sound and feel more complete. 
(page 169 - Jennifer Serravallo)

Prompts: (page 169)
  • Tell your story. (Put each part of the story on a different page)
  • Touch the page as you tell that part.
  • Sketch the parts of the story (the sketch is just to get down the idea of your story - you can illustrate the story later)
  • Now, Write Write Write

End with the Last Words from the Character

This strategy ends the story by focusing the most important part of the moment you are writing about.  Students try to have their main character state the final dialogue.

I had one student write about carrots for the Imagine This... Contest who used this strategy for her ending.  She won for her region of California.  Her ending was very powerful, and the story was informative and entertaining.

Prompts:  (page 179)
  • Who is the main character in your story
  • Let's think about the last thing the character might say.
  • What's the main point of your story?
  • What's the last thing you want your reader to hear from your character?

Start with a Table of Contents

This strategy is designed for informational or nonfiction.  It is easily used with first through eighth graders, and it helps the student develop their story.  Students think about their topic and think about the parts or chapters to make sure they have a few facts to write about. For upper elementary students this helps the writer break up a topic into subtopics to plan for paragraphs and adjust their thinking.
Megan Hughes and Courtney Tilley  (page 180 - Serravallo)
Prompts: (page 180)
  • What chapters might you write?
  • Think about how you'll break up this topic. Are there parts to it?
  • List the parts.
  • Let's test out this table of contents by listing facts that you plan to write in each chapter.
  • Ah! If you only have one fact to say, it's not enough for a chapter.
Have a great day writers!

An InLinkz Link-up

1 comment:

  1. I love this collaboration. I'm a colleague of Katie and Kathleen and am so inspired by their work. Thanks for breaking down the goals for us. I love the look of your website and use of graphics.