Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Few Simple Steps To Differentiate Writing (AND A FREEBIE!!)

Hi everyone!!

Alisha from Missing Tooth Grins here! Do you love to teach writing? I will be honest, I used to loathe writing. Actually, just in November, I asked my instructional coach and principal for some advice on my writer's workshop time. Then, I did a ton of self reflection on my own over that following weekend of asking them and figured it out on my own like a big girl. Hehe, just kidding.

First, I wanted to figure out exactly what the problems in my classroom were. Just a quick note, I teach first grade and was feeling this way from the beginning of the year until November. 

1. They can't write.
2. They talk the whole time.
3. Stamina... Where is their stamina?
4. This kid is basically a published author and this kid over here needs help with sentences. Help. Me. 
5. This makes no sense. 

Anyway, I'm no expert on anything honestly, but I do feel pretty strongly about the ways I teach writing. If you feel like you are in the same boat I was, then I hope you find this post useful to you! So... Introducing... EASY STEPS TO DIFFERENTIATE YOUR WRITING! The most important thing for me to remember while teaching writing is that my kids are literally all at different areas in their writing and THAT'S OKAY! I hope these few easy steps can help you like they've helped me!

When teaching opinion writing, it was very obvious to me that some kids would be able to write three or four reasons to support their opinion, while a few of my friends would only be able to write one or two reasons. Rather than stressing my friends out that they all had to write the same amount of reasons, I gave each friend a post-it with a number. The number stated how many reasons they would have to have to support their opinion. This could work for any type of story, not just opinion stories. I could see myself using this for informative writing and narrative writing as well. 

This friend decided to color on her post-it, but as you see... Easy Peasy. I just walked around with my post-its and sharpie and wrote and stuck! Wrote and stuck. Wrote and stuck. That reminds me of Legally Blonde... Bend and Snap (anyone?)!

One way that my friend Katie from Simply Creative In Kentucky shared with me is another super simple way. The kids use a post it to track their writing in their organizers or rough drafts to their stories. That way they don't lose track of where they are in their writing... Something that my kids used to do all the time, which made rough drafts and final copies extremely difficult. Look at this super simple trick!

Another way is to make sure you're conferring with your students. I was so wishy-washy about this before, but I totally believe in having meaningful conferences with your students. Each day, I sit down with about 3 or 4 students, if it's realistic that day (you know how that goes) and we discuss their previous goal, whether they've been working on that goal, and a new goal for them to work on in their writing. Remembering to remind them to look back at their goal daily is a challenge, but making those goals has definitely shown a difference. I mean to get this picture for you all, but I promise I will do a separate post on conferring one day! Blogger fail on my part. Sorry!

This last one has more to do with teaching topic sentences, but my students had a really difficult time with identifying a topic sentence and creating their own topic sentences. We used my Tackling Topic Sentences pack and highlighted the topic sentence in different stories. This really helped them see a visual for identifying the topic sentence (and generally the main idea) of a text, which in turn helped them create their own.
 In fact, they created this one together as a class when we read A Pig Parade Is A Bad Idea. You can read more about how I taught opinion writing in this post right here. Sentence starters are something else I always make sure to have for my friends that need them. Some of my firstie friends need sentence starters, while others don't.
Here's the pack I used to teach topic sentences.

So, there it is! Some simple easy steps to differentiate your writing and hopefully help you and your kiddos! It helped me and my firsties a whole bunch!

And, because I love all our followers here on The Primary Pack so much, I created a freebie of this pack because of this post! You can find it in my TPT store or by clicking on the picture below! Enjoy!!


  1. Thanks, I really needed this. I recently purchased your Tackling Topic Sentences, but have yet to use it. I definitely need help teaching writing. It always came easy for me as a child, so I don't know how to help them!

  2. A great post! I am looking forward to hearing more about how you conference with your kids!

    Paiges of Learning