Thursday, December 13, 2012


Do you ever find that your kids don't know the difference between elaboration and revision?  Sometimes it's like that movie Memento in my classroom--we go to write a new piece, begin a new unit, etc., and it's as if we are starting from ground zero.  Like nothing ever happened before.  This week, it was time to stop and take stock of some of the elaboration techniques we've worked on, and for a little reminder that we don't just wait for the revision stage in our process to utilize these strategies--we always have them in our toolbox. Here's what we came up with yesterday (Note--these are specifically for expository writing since that has been our focus this year.):
For word choice, we've been focused on using 5th grade vocabulary and precise language.  Between, embedded vocabulary in read alouds, our district vocabulary resource, and mentor texts I see nice growth with their word choice.  They seem, however, to be best at improving their adjectives, so working on using strong verbs, adverbs and figurative language has been a focus.

The degree to which internal thoughts and feelings are flowing varies with the child--those who tend to be less introverted tend to be the ones who use these techniques naturally, so it has been important to zoom in on those introverts to get them to talk/write about their thinking and feelings to enhance their work. Anecdotes are grooving along, and this group is doing much better than I'm used to when it comes to using dialogue as a condiment, not a meal.

All in all, I'm happier with where I am with writing this year than I was last year at this time.  Research writing will be next, so, in anticipation, we've started thinking about ways to choose topics:
I'm attempting to use Energize: Research Reading and Writing by Christopher Lehman as a new resource (this first lesson in which we came up with the list in the above chart came from the book, which is really fabulous and you need it--click on the pic below to link to Amazon):
I'm also behind in terms of pacing right now because my other two teammates have, up until two weeks ago, been on maternity leave since late APRIL.  Yes, both of them.  Suffice it to say that I'm deliriously happy they are back, but this means some slowing down and working together to get everyone up to speed.  I'm cool with that--I'm just so happy to have colleagues  again!

So, lots going on with reading and writing.  That said, the most important work right now is the work of making Christmas super awesome for my family.  Kristine called it the December Blitz.  I concur.


  1. This is a great post! I constantly feel like I am starting from ground zero, especially with writing. It is nice to know I am not alone! I love these anchor charts and know they will help my students a TON! Thank you so much for the wonderful ideas!

    YoungTeacherLove 5th Grade Blog

  2. Kristine--thank you so much! I'm constantly getting so many fabulous ideas from you, that I'm happy to have something to contribute and return the favor :)

  3. I love this! I've been working on Writer's Workshop as one of my professional development goals, and you've given me some great ideas, books, and starting places! Thank you!