The progress students are making isn’t always obvious day to day, but looking back at the work students completed at the beginning of the year makes the progress clear.  We had a grand plan that the students would keep portfolios that we would add work to throughout the year.  Unfortunately, after the first few items, the portfolios were forgotten.  (New plan for next year!)  However, we did have a few things including on demand writing assessments from the beginning of the year and end of the year.

This was our first year of using Lucy Calkins Units of Study for Writing Workshop.  Look at these differences in just one year!  Regardless of their ability at the beginning of the year, the students learned and improved their writing abilities.  Using writing workshop and Lucy as our guide, we were able to differentiate for all learners!


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Screen Shot 2014-06-07 at 7.38.27 PMInstead of lists and individual sentences, he wrote in a paragraph, focusing on one specific event.


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Wow!  In August, what she did write was done with a teacher sitting right next to her.  In June she wrote in sentences, albeit run-ons, without any teacher assistance.  She also focused on only one event.


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Again he focused on one specific slice of time – the first day of school.  He writes with such a strong voice!  If only he had time to finish!

My favorite line:  “This was one weird classroom.”

I can only imagine what will happen next  year when we actually know what we are doing!


Kids say it best!

Two examples of perfect comments, even though they should have raised their hands.


Writing Workshop Mini-lesson on Narrowing the Focus:

Using a sample text from Ralph Fletcher’s Craft Lessons, we demonstrated how a two minute time frame is more than enough for a personal narrative.  It was a story about a mom waking her son up in the morning.  I pointed out that it was only a two minute time frame.  The entire page was written about only two minutes.

“But it was a really cute two minutes!” says a smiling girl.



Practice with context clues:

She was so erratic that she would be in a great mood one minute and crying the next.  you could never predict the way she’d act.

Then one student shouts out, “They’re talking about my sister!”

It was another one of those times you know that you should remind him to raise his hand, but it was just too perfect!  And he did use the context clues!