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Instructional Resources

Series Info

Episodes: 16

Length: 30 min.

Grade Levels:
Professional Development

The Arts

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Inside Writing Communities,Grades 3-5

This video workshop for elementary school teachers uses classroom footage to demonstrate how a writing workshop approach motivates intermediate students and helps them become proficient and independent writers. Ten teachers from across the country model teaching strategies and share reflections on their practice. Six nationally known experts in writing instruction comment on teaching and using the writing workshop approach with upper elementary students.

Episode Guide

1. Building a Community of Writers—How can teachers in grades 3–5 create classrooms that nurture and support all students’ confidence in their ability to write and help them forge their own writing identities? This program explores strategies and practices to help establish successful writing communities within classrooms.

2. Teacher as Writer—This program shows third-grade teacher Latosha Rowley sharing her writing with her students and reflecting on the experience as a writer and as a teacher. It also includes several vignettes featuring other teachers who build community in their classrooms through modeling and sharing their own writing.

3. Reasons for Writing—This program examines practices that motivate students to write: choosing their own topics and making writing decisions, keeping a writer’s notebook for recording their thoughts, focusing on authentic audiences for their writing, and having opportunities to publish their pieces.

4. Fostering Choice and Independence—Viewers will see strategies and practices that encourage students to write. Teacher Mark Hardy’s first days of school provide an example as he sets up the writing workshop by allowing his third graders to choose both the genre and the topic for their first pieces.

5. Reading Like a Writer—The relationship between reading and writing in the intermediate classroom is explored. The program demonstrates ways in which reading inspires students and helps them learn the craft of writing, including the use of touchstone and mentor texts.

6. Reading/Writing Connections—Through interviews and classroom footage, this program demonstrates how teachers, including Christine Sanchez, Cristina Tijerina, Sheryl Bock, and Mark Hansen, incorporate works by published authors into their writing instruction.

7. Teaching the Writing Craft—This program examines whole-class instruction in the writing workshop, looking at why teachers choose this type of instruction and how they integrate it with other instructional strategies such as working with individuals and small groups.

8. Teaching a Specific Writing Strategy—Silvia Edgerton teaches her fifth-grade students how to make their writing more vivid by zooming in on details, shown in a lesson unfolding over several days.

9. Conversations With Student Writers—The program demonstrates how teachers incorporate conferences with students into their writing instruction. Viewers will see how teachers structure conferences, choose a teaching focus for the conference, and keep records of their interactions. The emphasis is on practical strategies and on the fundamental benefit of responding personally to student writing.

10. Teacher Conferences—This program features extensive footage of three effective student/teacher conferences in one fifth-grade and two third-grade classes. These conferences demonstrate how teachers use conferences to focus on instruction for individuals while helping students feel ownership of their work.

11. Conversations Among Writing Peers—One way to provide an authentic audience for young writers is to have them share their work with each other. This program shows how teachers help students respond to their peers by modeling appropriate behavior and teaching protocols for student responses.

12. Peer Conferences—Third-grade teacher Jeanne Boiarsky teaches a peer conference protocol to her class and Lindsay Dibert’s fifth-grade class uses a different peer conference strategy in revising personal narratives.

13. Learning To Revise—For elementary-age children, revision is often new and challenging. This program shows how teachers overcome students’ resistance to changing their writing by providing concrete and effective revision strategies.

14. Modeling Revision—Nicole Outsen guides her fifth-grade students through revising an introduction to a newspaper article. She uses her own research notes to model the thinking and decision-making that writers do.

15. Writing Across the Curriculum—This program explores how teachers incorporate writing into other subjects and bring subject-area content into the writing workshop. It includes examples from several classrooms including fifth, fourth, and third grades.

16. Writing in Science—The final program provides an example of content-area writing in a fifth-grade science class: recording observations about chicken bones as part of a lesson on anatomy.

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