Sunday, December 8, 2013

Who Says Boys Hate to Write?

Emmett, my 6 year old second grader, decided to write about his blocks and cars in his journal entry last week.  Since teaching writing is one of my favorite things to do with this age level, I couldn't help but share a writing lesson to kick things off on the blog.  I love, love, love to see Emmett's transformation from reluctant writer to confident gentlemen with his studies!

Emmett is just now working on writing complete sentences about a topic.  He is on his way to becoming a great writer.  Being a boy, he has a lot going against him due to the stereotype that boys HATE to write!  In my opinion, it is all in how you teach it.  The motivation and desire comes naturally if it is encouraged.  Unfortunately, the method described here is so difficult to implement in a large classroom setting.  I know all too well from my experience in teaching in a public school with 28 first graders in my class with no aide.  The one-on-one instruction is priceless.  Not a day goes by the I don't think about the treasure I have in my home to be able to sit with my children one-on-one!

I have taught several students and have been trained in teaching the IEW writing method. Click here for IEW Andrew Pudewa is my hero when it comes to teaching writing.  I only wish I learned his method when I was in grade school.  If so, I may not have been doomed to earn a C grade for almost every piece of writing I produced in college!  I take his key word outlining technique and apply it to Emmett's writing.  It is pure genius to me.  It takes away the "blank page" issue that so often frustrates young writers into anxiety and stress about producing a written product from their thoughts and imagination. Here is how I apply it...
Top of page 1 of journal
Emmett's picture of his cars and blocks structure that he set up in his bedroom.

Bottom of Page 1 of journal
"I made a block tower for my cars.  The last tower I built didn't have a roof..."

Page 2 of journal
"...because I ran out of blocks before I even finished."
Above you can see the bullet outline points 1 and 2.  These key word ideas correspond to his two sentences that he wrote.  I actually wrote the key words for him.  This is very important because the idea here is first and foremost to NOT hate writing!  You must gauge how your student feels about the task.  At the very notice of negative body language such as sighing, slumping in chair, and moaning,  you MUST let up!  The goal is for the student to be confident and happy about his finished product.  I am teaching beginning outlining here, NOT writing, so it is not too important for him to be physically writing the words himself.  It is a cooperative effort between teacher and student.  Writing can be considered a collaboration at this point.   Please don't turn writing into a disciplinary tool.  "Write a sentence because I said so!".  For example, in the beginning of the task, Emmett shied away from the outlining idea.  He said, "I am going to just write one sentence."  At that communication from him, I took the lead and dove right in.  I didn't accuse him of being lazy and then force him to do it.  I think that most of the fear and anxiety about writing can mostly come from the fact that the child thinks it will take too long.   At the end of the task, he was proud of his work and saw how the outlining helped him write good sentences.  The quick outlining method works to stop those run-on sentences and keep ideas clear and succinct.  The trick is to make the task flow so initially the child can realize that writing a sentence or two is not a monumental feat! Andrew Pudewa, from IEW, suggests outlining first from already printed stories and articles, not from your own ideas.  To me, both methods work just fine.  It is all in how you explain it, though.  The point is, that they understand that outlining is a way to extract key information from text (or original ideas).  

Thanks to this lesson, we have yet ONE more thing to put on Emmett's wish list from Santa.  He informed me that he will be asking Santa for MORE blocks so he can finish his parking garage.  :)  

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