It is time to start gathering ideas, writing lesson plans, making copies, BUYING SCHOOL SUPPLIES (I LOVE SCHOOL SUPPLIES!!) It's the most wonderful time of the year (feel free to sing along)...when we are all full of new ideas, positive energy, and BIG plans for the school year to come. We are relaxed (hopefully). Well, actually new teachers are probably not so relaxed as petrified... and ready to start a new year fresh -- gonna meet your new "Babies," "Kiddos," "Chickadees. :)
Anyway, I thought I would try my hand at this whole "Freebee" thing. I hope I can figure it out so I can share like so many of you do :)
A Bio Poem is a perfect way to get to know your students and have them get started with the Writing Process. Be sure to model for your students before they begin, or better yet, fill yours out (overhead or document cam) with the students as you go. They need to see you as a writer! Don't forget to "make a few mistakes" along the way, so they can "catch you" and you can model how "everyone makes mistakes" and that is OK in your classroom. (I normally don't have to TRY to make a mistake - I'm pretty good at it - lol.) You are wanting to create an environment where everyone feels safe to be his or herself. Next, use whatever tools are customary in your classroom to model and have students revise and edit their drafts. This is an excellent time to hand out those "personal spelling dictionaries," or teach a mini-lesson on dictionary skills, editing marks, or just about any revise and edit lesson that is appropriate for the first of the year. MODEL EVERYTHING - I cannot say this enough!
The next step is VERY important for your first writing assignments of the year: Set your expectations HIGH. Be sure your students know that when they publish their writing, they always do their Personal Best! They use their best handwriting, they focus and copy correctly, and one of our writing mottos in my class: BEFORE I TURN IN, READ AGAIN! They are authors and authors would never publish something that wasn't their best.
Finally -- SHARE!!! At the first of the year, I am careful not to MAKE students read their writing aloud if they are not comfortable, but of course I pull out the author's chair and give those who want to share the opportunity. This is the time to set those HIGH expectations again for how we share, and how we LISTEN and RESPOND when someone else shares. One way I have done this is "Comments and Questions," where I allow a certain number of comments and a certain number of questions after each student shares. I will blog about this and other sharing ideas in a later blog at some point.
I have included a "Final Draft" page for students to use to publish their poems. You can display these or put them in the students' portfolios. Parents LOVE to read them at Curriculum Night or Open House. I keep all final drafts at school and send them home in the students' writing portfolios at the end of the year. They love looking at EVERYTHING they have written when the end of the year comes.
Click HERE to get your copy of my Bio Poem and Happy Writing!