Part 6 of 6: Balanced Literacy

You can make anything by writing. ~ C.S. Lewis

Writing instruction is as vast as the ocean; there are many, many different books, lessons, and curriculum available to help chart the course. In this post, I will attempt to outline what independent writing looks like and why it needs to be done. In future posts, I will break down the processes of writing as well as share specific writing lessons. For this post, I want to emphasize the importance of guiding your children to write independently. Independent writing is one component of balanced literacy.

Whether you teach in a classroom or teach your children at home (I’ve done both.), this information is applicable. When I was teaching in a classroom, often, I heard many of my fellow teachers tout, “I don’t have time for the kids to write.” My answer is as follows: “You can’t afford to not make time to write. You can’t afford to compromise skills that won’t be mastered by neglecting such an important life skill.” Thus, I speak from experience. I truly made time in the schedule for students/children to write. Children get better at writing by writing. They need time to do it. It reminds me of this quote:

“Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” Edward Stanley

Therefore, I’m begging you to make time for your children to write so that they will develop the essential skills they need for life.

(Confession time) I avoided writing lessons and writing time when I was teaching my own children at home, because I hated the confrontation and conflict writing brought. My children didn’t enjoy doing it; they balked. However, I persevered. I got back on track and added writing to our daily schedule. I did writing aloud with them, and programmed time for them to write. Thankfully, by doing so, they are good writers today. They are able to communicate well in writing. (That’s the goal, right?) When you follow these simple tips, your children will too. 🙂

  • Independent Writing

In independent Writing, children write their own pieces. They compose. They may journal write, story write, write narratives, comics, retell a story, respond to literature in writing, label pictures, use speech balloons, write lists, etc. Independent writing provides a structured time for children to write. In fact, they can write all across the curriculum writing about their history lesson or science experiment. By allowing time for children to write, they expand their writing skills and apply spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Grammar is truly learned, because it is taught in context. Little teacher support is needed, because children write using known words and construct the spelling of unknown words. They learn to use resources available to expand their skills such as spell check, a thesaurus, a word wall, etc. Independent writing is just that- writing independently. After writing time, on another day, you help your children edit their work. This is wonderful, because they learn how to correct errors.

  • Make time to write every day

  • Read LOTS! Readers are writers and writers are readers.

    Your children can only draw from the well(mind) what is in the well. So, by reading lots and lots, they have vast language experiences to draw from when they write which sets them up for success in writing. Put excellent language skills into the mind by reading lots.

  • Simply, have your children write in a journal every day.

    They may write about what ever they like, or they can use these calendars  for a topic a day. These topics will give them inspiration; so, they can’t say, “I don’t have anything to write about.” 🙂

  • Children love to write stories. During independent writing, allow them to create stories.

Writing researchers suggest that children should write stories in order to (1) entertain, (2) foster artistic expression, (3) explore the functions and values of writing, (4) stimulate imagination, (5) clarify thinking, (6) search for identity, and (7) learn to read and write.

The most important part of writing a story is finding a way to help your children publish it. When your children complete a “book”, they are motivated to write more. (Yay! That is what we want.) (Have a celebration when they complete a book.)

publish student writing

Here are a few basic ways to publish your children’s work. It can be as simple as stapling pages together and having them illustrate, or you can use the books already bound (bare books), or you can use a spiral binding. No matter what method, your children will feel proud to have published work.

 

ways to publish student writing

This shows the inside of the books. The children love to have completed books, and the entire process of independent writing, editing, and publishing is invaluable.

  • Activity ideas for independent writing

  1. Poetry writing- I’ve found this to be popular, because I use frames to create poems. When you use these frames , it sets children up for success and they create lovely poems. Poetry lessons for grades 9-12: http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/abcs-poetry-988.html

    Listen to children’s poets read poems and follow up with writing a poem. All activities found here: http://teacher.scholastic.com/writewit/poetry/

  2. Fractured Fairy Tales

  3. Create a new ending for a story you just read

  4. Write a letter to someone or get a pen pal

  5. Create your own questions for the story

  6. Draw a picture and write captions for it

  7. Write comics

  8. Small children dictate their stories as the teacher/parent writes what is said.

  9. Recreate a familiar song

  10. Write silly rhymes

  11. Write your own riddles after reading many riddles

  12. Use old calendar pictures or holiday card pictures as story starters. Have your children write a story to go with the picture, or write a poem, or write a caption to go with the picture

  13. Begin with having them write sentences. Just write a sentence. 🙂 Progress to paragraphs. Then, progress to a whole story or essay.

  14. Create an advertisement

  15. After reading recipes and cooking, create your own serious or silly recipe

  16. Create a brochure for an event

  17. Create your own party invitations

  18. Google- “Writing activity ideas” (You can add age specific to the search- “Preschool writing activity ideas” or “Fourth grade writing activity ideas”) The activity options are limitless.

Have fun watching your children bloom into writers when you program time to write into their schedule.

This concludes the series: Balanced Literacy which includes:

Guided Reading

Reading Aloud

Self Selected Reading

Making Words- Word Work

Writing Aloud

Independent Writing- This post

writing quote

Did this help you? What are some writing activities you like?

Let’s make a positive difference~ one word at a time.

Pamela

Please share this article with others that you think would benefit from these tips. Also, please ask any questions that you may have about teaching children reading or writing. Leave your questions in the comments. I’ll answer. 🙂

To learn more about Literate For Life, see the welcome post.

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Photo Credit:  1.  spanishtutoring4all.com  4.  galleryhip.com