Early in the year is the time to explain how to keep up with work. Make decisions together as much as possible. Seek your students’ advice. Select helpers so that you’re doing as little of this detail work as possible. IIf the students are doing the work, they’re doing the learning.
1. What paper do I use?
- Explain that students should use what they need; they don’t have to ask. Fill a writing center with newspaper print, white paper of different sizes, lined paper, envelopes, all kinds of coloring tools, construction paper, etc. The materials they need are determined by what the student wants to write. Make sure students know how to find what they need so they don’t have to interrupt your conferences or writing time.
2. What’s a daybook?
- A daybook is a place where authors, artists, scientists, and mathematicians record anything that helps them be better readers, writers or thinkers. While controversial for K-2 in some circles, many primary students are competent daybook keepers and older students definitely are. While it’s important that schoolwork goes in the daybook, the piece that makes the notebooks invaluable is the personal writing, project collecting, and inventing daybook owners do. Kids need time at the beginning of the year to set up their daybooks.
3. Where do I store all my drafts?
- Once a child selects a piece of writing to revise and edit, she writes it on paper or on the computer. Students keep their drafts in a works-in-progress folder. Also in that folder is (1) a record of conferences the student has with the teacher or other student, (2) proofreader’s log, and/or (3) spelling word lists. I show students how to maintain their checklists and keep their writing folders organized.
4. Where do I keep my finished work?
- Writers store finished work in portfolios. Teachers decide what kind of portfolio to use: computerized, binder, folder, etc. Teachers share how to select what goes in the portfolio, how to organize the portfolios, where they’re stored, and how they’re shared. I suggest finishing one piece of writing within the first 2 weeks so students experience drafting, works-in-progress, and final drafts pretty quickly. That way, you and your students can sort out all the details of writing, organizing, and storing together.
5. What’s a one-second spelling card?
- Students glue a library card to the inside cover of their daybook or on their desks. On an index card, they write 5 personal spelling words collected from their writing (Sandra Wilde). The students select the words because they use the words frequently and can never remember how to spell them. When the young authors write or edit, they refer to the cards and copy the spelling correctly. Once the kids learn those 5 words, they add another card with 5 more words.
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