Welcome back to Chalk + Ink: The Podcast for Teachers Who Write and Writers Who Teach. I'm your host Kate Narita, author of 100 Bugs! A Counting Book and fourth grade teacher.
This is the first episode of Chalk + Ink’s second season. It’s also a new season in my life. My youngest son left for college last week which makes my husband and me official empty nesters. To keep myself from bursting into tears throughout the quiet days, I have been pouring energy into this kickoff episode.
We ended season one with a compilation of top ten writing tips for a creative summer and we’re going to start season two off with top ten writers’ workshop tips to help you set your students up for creative success throughout the year. Making this episode has made me so psyched to go back to school. Let’s get started.
Tip Number Ten: Plan for Success
If you’ve been listening to this podcast, you know I like to get started or jump right in. I’m that way in school, too. But when I rush the planning process in writer’s workshop, I end up with a bunch of students staring at an empty page or students who get off to a great start and then get stalled in the creative process. Listen to how third grade teacher and author, Hannah Stark, sets her students up for writing success from day one.
Tip Number Nine: Go Green
So thanks to Hannah Stark and tip number ten your students are all planned out for narrative success. Let’s get real. No matter how much time you and your students invest in prewriting, sometimes kids don’t want to write narrative, informational or opinion texts. Sometimes kids just want to write to have fun. Listen to how novelist and third grade teacher, Jody Little, incorporates greenbelt writing into her classroom once a week.
Tip Number Eight: Idea Boxes
So how do we inspire the joy of writing all day every day, not just during greenbelt writing blocks? Give students idea boxes and a stack of index cards at the beginning of the year. Encourage students to jot down an idea whenever it comes to them and add it to their box (even if it’s during math or science-gasp!). This technique will help students understand that writers are always open to ideas no matter what they’re doing. Listen to how author and second grade teacher, Katrina Moore, uses an idea box to spark her own creativity and encourages other aspiring authors to do the same.
Tip Number Seven: Marvelous Multiple Intelligences
You’ve incorporated the joy of writing into your writer’s workshop and implemented lots of activities to grow ideas, but some students are still stuck. Why? Because if we forget to stimulate multiple intelligences and simply want kids to sit and write, they’ll freeze up. Listen to how the 2020 Newbery honoree and artist in residence, Alicia D. Williams, uses vocal orchestras and teamwork activities to get students’ creativity moving and grooving.
Tip Number Six: Wonderful Word Choice
Words are flowing thanks to all of our prewriting activities, but if we see, hear or read another sentence that starts with “I went,” one more time, we may cry. I don’t know about you, but I’ve done enough crying this week. In order to avoid tears during writer’s workshop, create word lists with your students throughout the year. Listen to how middle grade instructor and author, Michelle Schaub, immerses her students in rich vocabulary and encourages them not only to use the words in their writing and speech but to be on the lookout for wonderful words in their environment as well.
If you like talking about the wonder of words, be sure to listen to April Jones Prince’s episode which will publish October 8th.
Tip Number Five: Poetry Power
Your students have a rich vocabulary, now what? Put the five paragraph essays aside and incorporate some poetry. Take a tip from Michelle Schaub and start with a collective poem to build students’ confidence. Then, follow librarian Jolene Gutierrez’s advice and take your workshop outside to help students incorporate sensory details. Finally, remind them poetry is fun because you don’t have to follow the rules.
If poetry is your jam, be sure to listen to Chalk + Ink’s interview with Carole Boston Weatherford on September 10th. Her picture books embody the power of poetry.
Tip Number Four: Emphasize Empathy
Currently, there’s a lot of pressure to integrate social emotional learning into the classroom. One way we can add more social emotional learning into our days is by incorporating it into our writer’s workshop. Librarian Cathy Breisacher uses pictures as prompts. She asks questions that require students to infer the subject’s feelings. School counselor and author Sarah Scheerger shows a graphic-novel style page from her middle school novel Operation Frog Effect and asks students to write that same scene from a different perspective.
Tip Number Three: Editing Excellence
In the past, I’ve done partner editing when students have a complete draft. While it’s been effective in some ways, it presents some problems. The first challenge is it takes some students a long time to finish a draft which means they may wait weeks to get student feedback. The second challenge is that some students wait for friends to finish before they edit because they want to work with a specific person. Listen to how author and educational consultant, Angela Shante, streamlines the peer editing process by incorporating ten minutes of daily editing with fixed student groups.
Tip Number Two: Authentic Audiences
Writing is a form of communication and students will be most likely to engage in writing, whether it’s narrative, informational or opinion if they’re writing for authentic audiences. Listen to how these three educators and authors suggest creating authentic audiences for their students. In this section, we’ll hear Melissa Stewart talk about classroom blogs, Ernesto Cisneros talk about bookmark recommendations and elementary librarian and author, Lisa Rogers enlists students to decide whether or not their school library collection should or should not include titles that have been banned by some libraries and schools.
Tip Number One: Lit Libraries
Finally, if we want students to write, they have to see themselves as authors. Second grade teacher and author Katrina Moore talks about what happens when students don’t see themselves reflected in the classroom library. Cathy Breisacher talks about incorporating students’ books into the school library collection.
Thanks so much for listening to the Chalk + Ink Season Opener. We have some new features this year. At the end of every episode, I’ll be assigning optional homework. Before September 10th, be sure to read Carole Boston Weatherford’s Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre illustrated by Floyd Cooper and The Roots of Rap illustrated by James Morrison. Do you have to read these books ahead of time? Of course not, it’s optional. But you’ll probably get more out of the episode if you’re familiar with Carole’s work.
The next feature is tons of fun. Each episode will include a giveaway. This episode’s giveaway is a signed copy of 100 Bugs! from me. There are several ways to enter: 1) Tweet or retweet this episode and be sure to tag me and at least one of the featured authors as well, 2) Make a comment on this post, 3) Make a comment about the episode on our Chalk + Ink Facebook page; and 4) Become a Chalk + Ink Patreon supporter. Patreon supporters are automatically entered into each giveaway. Each one of these actions is the equivalent of one entry which means people could have up to four entries for each giveaway. In order to enter the giveaway, these actions must be completed by midnight on Friday, September third. The winner will be announced on Friday, September 10th, on the podcast as well as on Twitter and on our Facebook page.
I have a favor to ask, if you enjoy this podcast, please leave a positive review wherever you listen to your podcasts. That will help other listeners find us.
Finally, I want to give a shout out to Sarah Brannen for Chalk + Ink’s podcast art. If you want to make the most out of these last few summer weeks, be sure to check out Sarah’s A Perfect Day for some summertime fun.
I look forward to chatting with you again on September 10th. Until then, best of luck with the beginning of the school year.
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