Saturday, December 9, 2017

Low-prep ways to incorporate writing activities in a lesson

Low-prep writing activities

When was the last time you got to be the student and the teacher?

Recently, our teachers attended a workshop where they got to be the student and the teacher. In the 45-minute workshop, they did 5 different low-prep writing activities as a student. Afterward, they put on their "teacher hats" as we discussed the activities and how they could be used in their classrooms. 

When the "teachers" walked in the room, they became "students." The slide above was projected on the screen as they were entering and signing in.

After I gave instructions for the workshop, I projected the next slide which had the bellringer for the day.

I chose about 10 different words from that would apply to the different subject areas that are taught in our school and created a Word Wall. I asked the "students" to write sentences that included context clues, so that if someone read their sentences, they could figure out the definition of the vocabulary word by using the context clues. 

Teacher tip: Leave the word wall up during the unit or grading period. When you find that there is a word that students use often, remove it from the wall and replace it with a new word.

Teacher tip: While students are reading the next passage, read through the cards for sentences to share at the end of class if time allows. Use the cards to gauge understanding. If a student doesn't use context clues, return the card and ask him/her to re-do the sentence. ("The consequence for not doing the work is doing the work.")

When "students" turned in their index cards, they started reading a passage I had printed for them from After everyone started reading, I posted the next slide (above).

Then, as "students" started finishing the passage, I changed the slide to the one above. 

Teacher Tip: Direct students to read the screen as they finish reading the passage. 

Teacher Tip: Create a free account today for you to use with your students! 

After everyone finished their individual summaries, I asked them to work with the members of their groups to create ONE group summary of 25 words. Each group had a different method of deciding how to summarize the passage. Some started with the person's summary that was the shortest and reduced words from it. In some groups, each person read their summaries then they created a new summary from their ideas. 

Instructions for what to do after completing the new summary were posted on the screen (See slide above.) As a group finished, if they asked me what to do next, I would simply point to the screen. If a group member started walking towards the basket with only the group summary, I would look at the other group members who were seated and ask, "Is your group member forgetting something?"

Teacher tip: We need to teach students how to follow directions. Let the screen do the work for you. Let the group members help each other to follow directions carefully. 

The next activity involved close reading of the passage. will provide questions after each reading passage. I used the questions to help me craft short answer or multiple choice questions and I added the words, "Cite textual evidence for your answer." 

At the bottom of the handout, it read, "When you finish, turn in this paper to the basket and take out your Chromebook to complete today’s exit ticket."

Teacher Tip: Make sure students don't write, "Paragraph ___, Page ___" as their textual evidence. They should quote the sentence or phrase that makes the answer correct so that when they are studying they have all relevant information in one place.
The slide above was projected when all the groups were finished with summaries and started the individual activity of answering questions. 

The exit slip simply asked them to list 3 things they had learned that day. 

Teacher Tip: If there are a few minutes left after everyone completes the exit slip, project students' sentences from the bell ringer activity, but with the vocabulary word covered up. Ask students to complete the sentence and talk about why or why not the sentence used good context clues. 

Teacher Tip: Use the feedback in the exit tickets and the results from the questions about the reading passage to inform the next day's instruction. 

What do you think about these low-prep writing strategies? 

Which one could you use in your classroom tomorrow? 

I would love to hear from you in the comments or on Twitter

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