Writing Program Overview
    Writing is undeniably a central part of literacy and the main forum in which children learn to find their "voice".  Our team follows a Writing Workshop model, which is similar to our Reading Workshop, making the connection more genuine for kids!  As part of a team-teaching and multi-age approach, Mrs. Brown's and Mr. Sutterlin's will join together to learn, write and share our creations this year.  Throughout the workshop we will write in the genres of personal narrative, personal essay, literary essay and fiction.  Within the context of these genres, students will learn grammar, mechanics of good writing, the writing process, and handwriting skills, but most of all getting in touch with themselves as a person who CAN write!

A Day in Writing Workshop     
In a typical Writing Workshop day: Students will join as a whole group for a quick focus lesson, tailored to the specific genre we're studying.  Following this interactive discussion, students will write independently, using skills acquired from all lessons while teachers conference with writers independently.  At the end of the workshop, the group joins together for a few people to share their work, their observations or anything they've learned during that sesson.

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Writing Workshop Genres
Personal Narratives
Personal narratives are also called "small moment" stories or "seed" stories (not "watermelon").  These are focused, detailed writings about our lives, the times we remember, special people, places or things.  Most of these are first-person accounts where we sometimes explore limiter dialogue, but really focus on tight storyshowing (not telling).  Students build confidence from writing what they know and the stories we share are always touching!

Personal Essays
Personal essays are the basis of the academic writing required of students for the rest of their school lives.  The standard essay is a strong thesis statement, followed by at least three good examples or reasons for their statement (or "big idea").   These are very challenging at first, but with some direct explanation, solid examples and a few planning tools we've created, kids end up doing a great job!

Literary Essays
Literary essays is an expansion on the personal essay format that students spend a few months mastering.  In this version, we read short stories that are also part of our reading workshop and develop a "big idea" or thesis based on one of those stories.  Students then use examples and reasons from the story itself to support their "big idea".  After essyas, these come quite a bit easier!

Realistic Fiction
Fiction sounds easy enough and elementary kids are dying to unleash those imaginations to tell about their superpowers, magic devices, invented animorphs and endless "what ifs".  By building upon their published narratives, essays, and  we redirect the "what ifs" to stories that could have actually happened in our lives...but didn't.  Imagining the possible is much harder, but so rewarding!

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The Writing Process
The writing process hasn't changed much over the years.  In our Writing Workshop students are introduced to the five familar stages, but guided along through their writing pieces at each child's individual rate.  Below is a table of the writing process and some terminology from our room that matches:
Writing Process In our Writing Workshop, this may be...
Planning ...mapping, webbing, listing, fast-writing, notebook entries, brainstorming.
Drafting ...called a "sloppy copy" or a rough draft.
Revising ...using spicier words, rewriting lead or conclusions, adding paragraphs, using fewer words to show something, being more descriptive, being more specific, using a pen to identify revisions.
Editing ...indenting paragraphs, using capitol letters appropriately, inserting or repairing punctuation, fixing spelling errors, using a pen to identify edits.
Publishing ...a beautiful, nearly perfect copy of your writing on "final copy" paper.

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Helpful Hints for Success
  • Notice writing styles as you read with family; discuss the writer's craft.
  •  Live as writers; notice things around you: sights, feelings, situations.
  • Talk as writers; describe what you notice in detail with family.
  •  Write every day, even if it's just journaling in a diary, just WRITE!
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 Updated April 4, 2012

Walt Sutterlin 2012. All rights reserved. All works published on www.sutterlearn.com are copyright protected and may not be used, reprinted, retransmitted, or altered in whole or in part without express written permission of Walt Sutterlin.