Big Four Focus Feature: Writing in the Elementary Grades

According to the Jump Into Writing! site: Jump Into Writing is “a new student-inspired, teacher-friendly curriculum that helps teachers apply the everyday skills they’ve already developed as classroom leaders toward establishing a writing workshop in their classrooms.”

“Jump Into Writing! supports teachers with

  • lessons that are easy to manage,
  • a logical sequence of routines,
  • a practical, accessible voice for real teachers,
  • carefully chosen mentor texts to inspire, instruct, and engage on multiple levels,
  • embedded support that helps teachers grow as writers while they teach.

Regardless of their writing workshop experience, teachers can jump in without feeling like they’re getting in over their heads.”

This year readying themselves with our SU-wide writing focus and some professional learning opportunities, elementary classrooms set a goal of “trying on” different aspects of the program. The “try-on” found an enthusiastic following in grades 3 and 4 in particular (for a more in depth look at implementation see the November 13 FWSU Story by BFA Instructional Coach Juliet King).

Recently I had the opportunity to not only see the program first hand, but to provide writing feedback to a small group of enthusiastic fourth grade writers in Allison MacKenzie’s fourth grade class at GEMS. The goals of the Jump into Writing Launch Unit is to get students acclimated to writing expectations, introduce/reinforce the workshop model, and ignite a passion for students to see themselves as writers.

That was my goal in coming to the classroom: to get students excited about their writing, the possibilities, and provide feedback as “one writer to another.”

Four brave and very talented writers volunteered to work directly with me via Zoom while the rest of the class listened. They were eager to share their drafting from their Writer’s Notebook. The Writer’s Notebook gives students a space to gather thoughts, brainstorm writing ideas, plan, draft, and think about next steps. 

After what quickly became my favorite experience of the year so far (I cannot wait to go back), I asked Allison MacKenzie to share some of her impressions of installing parts of the Jump into Writing program in her class this year. Here’s what she had to say:

“I really appreciate the pace of the Launch Unit and all of the tools that the students build for themselves in their notebooks.  This unit gives them some great places to go for ideas by teaching them to make memory chains, lists, use artifacts, special places, and emotions to give them topic ideas.  The launch unit also gives them a variety of structures to use, such as small moment stories and list poems.  I have noticed that the pace and structure of the program has been especially helpful in teaching reluctant writers.” 

What she shared next was what I saw with her class and was so impressed by so much enthusiasm for writing:

“My students are truly excited about their writing block each day.  They loved decorating their notebooks at the beginning of the year and this helped create a sense of pride for them. They remain as engaged as they work through to the publishing stage. It’s great to have students coming up to me, voluntarily wanting to share their stories, even if it’s not their conference day.”  

I am so grateful to Andrew, Delia, Jenna, and Mary for their willingness to share their writing with me and receive some validating feedback about their work.

As a former teacher and as the FWSU Curriculum Director, one of the most gratifying pieces of feedback I could receive from a teacher came from Allison a few days later:

“So as I sit here editing Delia’s story she said, ‘I didn’t think this was going to be good, but now it’s the best story I’ve ever written.’  She took your advice and is writing about the “other dimension.”  I’ll be sure to send you a copy when she’s done!”

I”ll be looking forward to it, Delia! 

Linda Keating is the Director of Curriculum,
Instruction and Assessment at Franklin West
Supervisory Union. She is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY.

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