Co-Written by BFA Fairfax Instructional Coach, Juliet King

Last spring BFA Fairfax Elementary determined there was a need to create a writing block in our grades 3 and 4 schedules.  This determination was the result of many conversations about ways to extend our literacy block and increase opportunities to engage and provide additional writing instruction.  

In early August we were provided the opportunity to explore a new writing program called Jump Into Writing, with the support of literacy consultant and former Georgia Elementary/Middle School teacher, Lisa Driver.  Jump Into Writing is a program developed to support teachers who use the writing workshop model for writing instruction. The writing workshop model reflects current understandings in cognitive science about best practices for instruction: whole class focus lessons, individual and small group student application/practice, and individual/whole group reflection on learning.  

Jump Into Writing consists of teacher manuals, mentor texts, and additional online resources that support instruction in the three areas of writing identified by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS): narrative, informational, and opinion writing. This is a program that includes resources for grades 2-5. BFA has purchased this program and is currently using these resources for grades 3-5.  Each school in FWSU is using this same approach in these grade levels to build consistency across the district.

Our initial experience with Jump Into Writing has been positive. The Launching Unit for each grade level is designed to build student agency and engagement in writing.  This unit is focused on small moment stories. Students have been learning about the writing process, teacher/student conferences, and peer conferences.

Writing workshop anchor charts in one 3rd grade classroom.
Class brainstorm of ideas for Small Moment stories.

“The program is fun and I’m glad that teachers chose to do this writing program with us.  I think that the strategies are very helpful!  I have lots of ideas to write about!”

3rd grade student

Students have been learning different ways to brainstorm for writing ideas and how to expand those ideas into their personal narratives.  Our students are actively engaged in creating meaningful stories about their experiences. 

Creating maps of special places.
Left: Creating a Memory Chain. || Right: Creating a topic list for writing ideas.

“It has been really fun to see the kids excited to write!  The pre-writing activities have helped students identify ideas for writing.  Each student has at least one activity that has inspired them to write.”

4th grade teacher
Setting goals and making plans.

“It has been helpful to look at my goals and go back to meet my goals in my writing.”

“At first when I was writing, I thought that it was pretty perfect, but when I saw some goals I could have, I realized that I could write a more satisfying ending.  The writing program is helping me learn!”

3rd grade students

After the Launching Unit, students will engage in units such as Modern Fairy Tales (Narrative Writing Grade 3), Op-Ed (Opinion Writing Grade 4), and Question and Answer Books (Informational Writing Grade 3).

We are very excited and fortunate that we have been able to implement Jump Into Writing. A big thank you to Juliet King for her effective facilitation and support as we pilot the program. We appreciate our staff’s willingness to collaborate and to provide additional literacy experiences for our students.   

Thomas Walsh is currently the Principal of BFA Fairfax Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY.

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