Friday, September 4, 2009

What Does Good Writing Look Like?

(click on the picture for a larger view)

Writing is a process, and this year we will practice writing in stages to ensure that excellent habits are being learned.

Brainstorming on any given topic is the way to begin writing as you jot down relevant words or phrases that come to mind on any given topic. Does it mean that you have to use all of your ideas when you begin drafting? Absolutely not! You only choose the best ideas that will support your topic and arrange them in an organized way by using a graphic organizer; this is part of planning what you want to say. Does it mean that you can't add new ideas that might come to mind at a later stage? Of course not! You can always add new information, but try to stay focused and limit yourself to completing one stage of the writing process at a time. As you allow your ideas to steadily flow, try to keep from revising and editing sentences at this point; you will have the chance to do that at later stages of the writing process. Think about this: If you are distracted by sentence structure, missing commas, spelling, etc while you are trying to formulate your ideas, great ideas might get lost and forgotten. Remember to take it one step at a time.

Once your ideas have been written in a rough draft, it is time to take a look at the organization of your thoughts. Are your ideas logically sequenced? Do you need to add or take out parts? What about finishing any incomplete sentences? If you have short, choppy sentences, you might want to consider combining them by using a clause or conjunction. After you analyze your written work, reread it again. It is okay for writing to be messy when you are using carets to insert words/phrases, underlining portions of sentences by using arrows to relocate them, etc. It is okay to mark up your paper!

After revising, it is time to reread AGAIN for spelling, capitalization, and punctuation errors. Take it one sentence at a time, and read it aloud so that you can hear errors that you might otherwise overlook. Finally, it is time to reread your written work again, and then rewrite it for the final time. Sometimes it takes several times of rewriting something before it is ready to be published, and if you really stick to writing in stages and following the correct process, you will develop excellent writing habits.

The question asked in class was,"What does good writing look like?" The boys worked together to come up with characteristics of good writing that they plan to incorporate throughout the year.

Check out my new digital learning website: GrammarCloud!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Why Do We Write?

In class, we have discussed the importance of communication. Our conversation involved writing with a purpose, and the boys brainstormed some ideas and shared what they believed to be the main reasons for why people write. Afterwards, they compared their ideas to the 4 main purposes for writing: to inform, to create/express, to persuade, and to entertain.

This year, the focus will be on expository writing where the boys will write 5 paragraph essays, newspaper articles, and a research paper. They will also write reflections, personal letters, poetry, and will have many opportunities to give written feedback on others' work. The boys are looking forward to not only collaborating with their classmates but with their peers from around the world.