Nonfiction Writing Power Work Shop

Today I had the privilege to see Adrienne Gear speak on her Nonfiction Writing Power book.  It was a very informative work shop and full of ideas that I could grow as a classroom teacher and build into full units or topics or use in the immediate future as a TOC. While there were many interesting ideas I can think of 4 ” light bulb moments” as take always from today:

  1. The most important person in the writing process is the reader and it is up to the writer to determine what they want the reader to understand. This includes voice, organization,  and opinion. Does it sound like something was written and left on the table or can you hear the writers thoughts in your head. This to me speaks to an authors voice, what is the author thinking? The question I want all my students to answer when begin writing is what do I want my reader to think, feel or know?
  2. I liked the 3 ,2,1 check it! strategy for revising and editing work. You “fix” one sentence in your writing that you are not fully happy with, change 2 words to make them more powerful, and find 3 or more places to correct spelling, punctuation and spacing. I love this strategy because it makes the process approachable, editing and proofing can be a difficult or even daunting task for many students who may not know where to start, it gives them a structure to follow and a starting point.
  3. I also found the dresser analogy to be very helpful in teaching students to organize their thoughts to write. Starting with asking students what would go in a dresser draw ie. socks, under wear, pants, t-shirts, sweatshirts ect.  Different ideas about the topic are like different types of clothes, and each idea goes in a drawer. For example if my students are writing about a Canadian Province the drawers may be labeled: symbols of the province, natural features, natural resources, history, famous people and tourist attractions. The ” big ideas” are the types of clothes and the supporting details are the individual clothing items. You put more than one sock or t-shirt in a drawer, and details or supporting ideas are like the socks or t-shirts you put a few of them in their drawer. This analogy made sense to me because it uses something concrete to represent the often abstract concept of sorting ideas. In my own classroom I would bring a 3 or 5 drawers organizer and start with sorting concrete objects into the drawers, and then move to ideas on pieces of paper and finally to doing it on paper using the graphic organizer shared during today’s presentation.  I like moving from concrete to abstract with my students of any age to reach students of all learning styles and engage their senses in the learning.
  4. Triple Scoop Words, I loved the description Adrienne Gear gave of triple scoop words today, it really resonated with me and the image that was presented was one that students will be able to relate to using ice cream. Triple scoop words are vibrant, exciting and hook the reader’s attention, like going out for ice cream and being able to order a triple scoop ice cream with sprinkles and chocolate sauce in a waffle cone. Then there are single scoop words that give information but don’t excite the reader, like going out for ice cream and getting a single scoop ice cream in a plain cone. I don’t know about you but I’d rather have the triple scoop ice cream and I prefer to read exciting descriptive words. I tried to teach this concept during my practicum how ever I wasn’t as successful as I wanted it to be, I now realize why, the description I used to explain the concept was only a single scoop. How could I expect triple scoop writing when I was demonstrating single scoops?

I am looking forward to learning more about writing power and diving into the fiction one. I have the books and the black line masters for all graphic organizers and charts for reading and writing power. I am hoping to be able to use these in conjunction with the books I have been collecting and today’s two new books ( I have a problem, I find a children’s book I love, I buy it). I am making my self a set of stand alone lessons for both fiction and non fiction reading and writing that I can take into any class at any time.

This entry was posted in Language Arts, Professional Development, Science, Social Studies. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *