Imitating Writing

This is something I’ve tried to do with my 6th graders this year, but I think I need to take it up a notch.

We use a model sentence from a novel each week to look at and imitate in our own writing. I pick a sentence that has the english grammar skill that I want to focus on.

I got this idea from Jeff Anderson’s books on writing and grammar.

It’s a great way to show students what good writing looks like while also covering the standards.

It’s a popular concept/instructional strategy that has been missing in my classroom, but I’m trying to incorporate it. All the EXPERTS say it’s great. See what Penny Kittle, author of Book Love had to say about it on twitter!

Copied from the #nctechat on twitter. (That I missed tonight!)

Never hesitate to imitate another writer. Imitation is part of the creative process for anyone learning an art or a craft.~Zinsser #nctechat

How do you show your students good examples of writing?

Student Writing Examples

I’ve never done this before and am embarrassed to even admit it! I’m talking about putting up good student writing in our classroom as examples.

I took part in the National Writing Project this summer- what a life changing experience!

It was all about modeling writing for our students, giving them examples/models to imitate, feedback, group work, and student choice.

So I’m trying to bring all of this into my 6th grade classroom. I’m taking baby steps, but hey at least I’m moving forward. I’m not moving backward, and I’m not standing still.

I’m trying to incorporate writing across the curriculum- math explanations, writing about our thinking while reading, bringing English into our writing instead of isolated concepts, written reflections on science content, writing I history, writing, writing….

It’s a slow process-baby steps- because the kids aren’t used to writing like this, but I think it’s gonna be worth it! 🙂

Our walls are going to be plastered with student writing by the end of this year.

Here’s the beginning!


Real World Writing Part 2

Someone asked if I would share what is on the cards from the previous post so I thought I would just write another post to explain it a little more . 🙂

Today they worked in groups to match the cards that have the types of writing on them to the actual samples of writing.



I would share the cards that have the writing types on them IF I COULD FIND IT ON MY LAPTOP!!!!!!!! I think I left the document open, and then my kids used my laptop and closed it out without saving. 🙂

So, I will list some of the writing types off the top of my head (which is 42 years old so don’t expect much!)

Personal narrative/email/blog post/advertisement/informative speech/business letter/friendly letter/postcard/fictional narrative/feature article/how to directions/recipe/persuasive and argumentative letter/letter to the editor/AND I CAN’T REMEMBER ANY OTHERS, but there were 21 types. 🙂

2 groups matched all of them correctly, 1 group missed about 4-5, and 1 group matched about 10 of them incorrectly. 🙂 I will say in their defense, I did NOT give them time to READ all of the samples completely. They had about 10 minutes? Or a little more?

They were very engaged! Now let’s hope they are that engaged when they learn how to WRITE like these samples. :).

I’m really going slow with our writing this year. Baby steps.

How do you introduce your students to the type of writing you want them to be able to write???


Real World Writing

We are getting ready to read different writing examples- lots of real world writing.

So today I had students work in groups to discuss and then categorize just the names of different types of writing.

They were VERY engaged. Then they had to choose one of their groups of writing and share with the class why they grouped them together.


Conferring With a Writer Video Clip

This is what I’m hoping to do next year. Confer with my students about their writing (and reading). Here’s a short video clip:

Stenhouse Writing Conference Video Clip

What great things did you see?

I saw:

1. Conferring (which is the ultimate GREAT thing!)

2. Pointing out the good things in the writing

3. Teaching only 1 thing-not a multitude of things that cannot be remembered

4. Showing how to revise-without erasing the good writing that is already there

I REALLY think that kids will remember this kind of teaching over whole class teaching. 🙂

Can’t wait to learn more about writing at the National Writing Project summer institute!!! My orientation is this Monday afternoon. Of course, we are supposed to have a meeting after school to figure out what we will be teaching next year, but my friend is going to text me the updates for that. 🙂 Right now it’s looking like 6th, 5th, or 1st. YIKES!

I’m really hoping for 6th. Praying actually. Bribery is possible. Begging. Pleading. Threatening. No-just joking! 🙂