April 14, 2012

Tips to Achieve Excellent Writing

I am sharing my love of the written word as part of the Superb Writers' Blogathon. In partnership with Grammarly grammar checker, this series is giving bloggers the opportunity to share helpful hints.

My favorite tips to achieve excellent writing...here it goes!

     I keep my own writer's notebook. 
This is the cover of my notebook.

     I write the day's teaching point (TP) in it and I show the students how to tackle it. Sometimes I vary the modes in which I model--at times, I write in front of them and I show them what I'm thinking as I write. Other times, I have the TP already done and I tell them about the challenges I faced as I wrote and how I "figured" it out.
This was our unit on folktales--we wrote our own folktales using facts and details about Canada and the Inuit culture. The purpose of the table was to begin thinking about the elements of a story (lesson/moral, problem, and solution)--it also helped us to think about what we wanted to put in our story mountains.

The lesson after creating the story mountain was to begin drafting. However, as I tried to draft my folktale, I ran into a road block. That's when this lesson on perspective was born.

2. Allow for conversation
      When I read aloud my pieces, my students see how I get my ideas on paper. They ask questions, they offer suggestions (which are usually new ideas that I incorporate), and they want clarification--these are all skills I want them to use when they think about their own writing. During writer's workshop, once the collecting phase is over and the drafting has begun, the classroom is buzzing with students talking about their writing. It's amazing the how the buzz changes from September to now--they are focused and serious. They want their current pieces to be better than the last!

3. Choice
    I've always been an advocate for student choice. I know that in order for the writing to be exceptional, it needs to matter for the authors--topics and issues that are passionate to them.
    Many years ago, I taught social issues through poetry. My students used current events to help them create their poetry anthologies--some of which were on heavy topics like child abuse (this was when Nixz Mary Brown case was new), animal abuse, divorce, and 9-11. The messages within these poems were ones that filled the readers with incredible emotions--both of which would not have happened if I limited their poems to topics like the beach or summer.
This a poem about divorce titled The Suitcase.

4. Allow students to take risks
    I let my students know that writing is a way to share those stories within their hearts or the anger they feel because of a decision someone made. I show them that their writing matters and how to clearly show others their purpose.

A poem about animal abuse.

To me, writer's workshop is where the magic happens :o)


  1. Love your writers notebook.....I just bought a new one for myself....I want to work on it this summer so I can be better about using it in front of my class!

    1. Let me know if you need any ideas! I'd love to help! I love using my writer's notebook--it's my "go-to" resource for teaching writing :o)