by Nicky Newsome, Grade 5 teacher
This year Grade 5 students have been participating in Writing Workshops. These are explicit writing lessons that have a routine structure. Students gather on the carpet for a mini lesson where a specific concept or writing tip is taught. There is always an active engagement element to these mini lessons allowing students to use partner discussion to deepen their understanding of the new skill. Finally, students move back to their own desks and apply what they have learned to their own writing or participate in a one on one conference with a teacher.
Each term we focus on a new genre of writing. Last term students in Grade 5 explored the genre of personal narrative writing. This term, students in Grade 5 have been learning to think and write like essayists.
Students have been challenged to think deeply about issues and observations in their own lives in order to formulate a personally meaningful thesis statement. Students are now in the process of planning and writing personal essays in which they advance an argument such as “It’s hard being an only child” or a claim such as “Greek mythology has a big impact on today’s world.” Writing Workshops have been an exciting and rewarding process where students are taught writing skills and strategies that they can apply throughout their lives as writers.
“I’ve learned many things in writing this year. I have learned to make a good thesis statement, and to develop seed ideas into longer pieces. Using writing strategies has really helped me.” – Tony
“Writing workshop has helped me develop my thinking and push me further. I also think it helped me zoom into the exact moment I’m describing and say every movement, smell or feeling I had.” – Karmen
“So far essays are my favourite thing to write. Essay writing helps me to stop and notice all the things around me that might be good to write about.” – Kalsang
“Something that I’ve learned about essay writing is that it is not telling someone about a story in your past or a make believe story. It can be a about a topic that matters to you like maybe that bullying is wrong or that we don’t get to wear our own clothes at private school. These are only a few things I have learned.” – Aysha
“Writer’s workshop helps to improve our writing. First we worked on personal narrative and now we’re doing essays. When we wrote our personal narratives we tried to pull the reader into our writing. We also zoomed into our writing. When we write our essays we concentrate on the main ideas and record our thoughts and opinions.” – Macy
“I like writer’s workshop because it is teaching me how to write in different genres. I liked writing personal narratives. I noticed that essays have a lot of steps to make them right.” – Meg
“I like essay writing because sometimes you get to express how you are feeling and people who read it get a sense of how you are feeling too. I also like it because I have one thought and then that thought makes me find more thoughts.” – Olivia
“Something that I’ve learned about essay writing is that you should have several topics to start with so that you can list some ideas to expand on. You can use strategies to push yourself further when you are writing like saying ‘This makes me realize’, or ‘I wonder’, or ‘An example of this is’.” – Amrit