Is this real writing?

Each week I sit down with my students and reflect on the weekly activities. I have noticed that this year my students are excited to share what they have enjoyed during the week and what activities they want to do the next week. I feel that it is important for the students to have ownership in the classroom and understand that they are responsible for making decisions for their learning.

This week I learned about student writing list articles in the classroom. The article described how a list article would look in a middle school classroom. I started to think about the different activities that we were completing in the classroom for the week and where I could integrate a list article type of writing.

I decided to use our reflection time as a list article writing session. I first introduced my students to some youtube videos that were shared with me. We started with a video that I knew the students would love. 

My students were trying to guess the animals and many started to follow the countdown.

I then showed a video with a list of 5 dogs.

The students were so excited to start their writing.

The assignment was to

  • find/ join a group 3-4 students
  • discuss activities from the week
  • make a decision as a group what to write
  • write the topic 5 things that had happened over the week
  • make sure to include a reason it was a top 5 activity

As my students created groups and got started, I rotated around the room listening to the discussions. Most groups started listing the activities we had completed during the week.

Here are some pictures of the students at work.

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I noticed that as they worked, they discussed what they wanted to write, how they were going to write each of the items on the list and their reasons. May of my students used resources around the room to spell out words, looked at our vocabulary wall, pulled activities from their notebooks, located read alouds and used each other to complete the activity.

I did not have one student ask me “How do you spell…?”. They were all engaged in the activity and not wanting to stop writing. I enjoyed listening to the students working on the spelling and referring back to our Letterland spelling lessons to explain the reason for the spelling patterns. 

Unfortunately we ran out of time and not all groups were able to finish the list. The groups that did not finish spent a lot of time discussing the top 5 list items as well as wanting the explanation to fit the activity.

Here are the pieces that the students completed.

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One group did finish with their Top 5 List and they were very excited to share with their peers.

I was very impressed with my students and the work they produced in a short amount of time. One student asked me “Is this like real writing?”, he was comparing this to our informational writing that we have been working on during writer’s workshop.

I started to reflect on our informational writing unit and our passion projects. I want to find a way to incorporate the list articles into our writing and let my students focus on a short piece of writing that has a clear topic and/ or message.

What writing activities do your students enjoy?

What activities do your students complete to increase written practice?

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