Saturday, June 13, 2015

Writing Portfolio Celebration!


My school has writing portfolios. Each year, favorite narrative, nonfiction and opinion writing pieces are placed in a brown, accordion folder. These folders are first added to in Kindergarten are then added to again and again, year after year through 5th grade.

As a 5th grade writing teacher, it was such a treat to give out these Writing Portfolios to the 5th graders for their final addition and final reflection. For many, they have been at my school since Kindergarten and they received a quite full, accordion folder! First, I gave them 20 minutes just to look back and enjoy all their pieces. Here's a video showing their pure joy of seeing all that they had written over the past 6 years:  



video

Then to celebrate, I asked them to pick ONE piece. Together we listened as they completed these sentences: I picked a piece of writing that I wrote in ______ grade.
I picked it because ___________.

What an amazing class period!!

I will admit that keeping writing portfolios is a big task for a school of 700 students. It is time-consuming to keep these portfolios and costly to purchase. Class time is needed to pick and get the pieces into the folders. Then time, as well as physical space, is needed to store them over the summer. Then more time to redistribute them to the next year's teacher as a new school year begins. Plus, time to make new ones for new students to the school.

However, after seeing my 5th graders interacting with them as they end their time at my school, it is DEFINITELY time and money well-spent!!

Does your school keep writing portfolios? If not, think about starting. Sure, it is one more thing to spend time and funds on but I am convinced. It is worth the time!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

New Fav Day - Independent Writing Publishing Party!

I know Colleen Cruz has a new writing book out and I highly recommend that you get it and read it: The Unstoppable Writing Teacher

However, be sure to also read Independent Writing by Colleen Cruz
I did and then used it as my guide for a final, quarter-long homework assignment for my 5th grade writers.

This was my handout I created using Colleen as my guide:




After students told me the genre they wanted to write in, I made posters in the room, listing all their names and adding old anchor charts used earlier in the school year related to that genre. I teach four groups of 5th graders and now we all knew who else in the 5th grade was writing in the same genre as us and we had TIPS right in front of us to remind us of how to write well in this genre.

When it was time to pick a mentor, I conferred with those who were having trouble and offered suggestions. I made sure to bring in newspapers, comics, and cookbooks from home, as these were genres kids were also choosing.

Then I got out of the way!!

I allowed for Fridays to be class days to work on this project and was available for a conference but I did just get out of the way!!

Then June 1st came and projects were turned in. Some needed help to print their amazing work. so I helped. Some needed extra time on the 1st and 2nd during lunch to finish, so I gave it.

Then on Wednesday, June 3rd, we had the MOST amazing Independent Writing Publishing Party!!!!!

I teach 78 fifth graders so I sorted all 78 projects by genre into these groups:
Newspapers
Cookbooks
Comics
Fiction 
Nonfiction
Biography
Essay
Poetry

I arranged the room to be table clusters without chairs and then added some chairs along the back wall only.

When classes arrived, we gathered on the carpet and I told them: "This room is filled with amazing writing work written by the entire 5th grade class. You have the class period to wander the room, that thanks to your writing has been transformed into more of a bookstore, just like Politics and Prose (our local Independent Bookstore)! Just like Politics and Prose, the writing is displayed by genre. Please feel free to read as many of the pieces as possible. If you pick up a piece of writing, you can go find a chair and sit and read. Then be sure to return it to the same place for others to find and enjoy. Try to get to every section of our bookstore today!"

Then for the next 40 minutes, we just READ!!!

I really felt like I got to spend four class periods at a bookstore. But instead of reading published authors, I was reading 5th graders writing in a genre they chose and passionately spent time writing! Wednesday, June 3rd is now my new favorite day as the Janney 5th grade writing teacher!!

Special thanks to Colleen Cruz and her book, Independent Writing. I followed your suggestions and the students chose a genre to write in and SOARED!!