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    4th grade writing
    By DVaughn

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    Writing is my main area of interest. The key is getting students to not fear writing assignments. Writing is like reading -- students need a lot of practice to help them master the skill. Here are some things you can do to take the fear away:

    1. Get your students to write vingettes. Cut out pictures from magazines of people, animals, places, etc. Have your students write a story to go with the picture. After they get the hang of this, you can expand the idea into picture books.

    2. Have your students write predictable picture books. Using a predictable picture book as a guide (like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie), have students write a similar story. My 5th grade practicum students did this. Some drew their illustrations, and others cut out pictures from magazines, and then they wrote the text.

    3. Have periodic writing workshops where the students choose the topic and the format. The rule for writing workshop is that the students must write a story, essay, poem, etc. on any topic they choose. After they write their pieces they may share with the class. These are free writing assignments and you don't grade them for grammar or spelling. The key is to just get the students writing.

    4. Have students keep a writing journal. You can give them prompts. For example, when we were studying the Civil War, a couple of prompts I gave my 5th graders were "You are on the Underground Railroad, write a letter to another slave telling them why they should or should not run away," or this one, "you are a soldier in the Civil War, write a letter home to a family member or friend." I like to use writing prompts that go with books the kids are reading. Have students write from the perspective of one of the characters in the book, etc. Again, you are looking at the writing process. When you first start this don't bleed on the paper with red ink marking errors. Give the children a chance to develop their confidence in their writing. Always let them know when you will be grading for spelling and grammar.

    5. Finally, focus on the writing process. I was a news paper editor before I decided to go back to school to get my teaching certification. In the professional writing world, writers always have a chance to write a rough draft, have it edited, and write a final draft. Allow your students the same. On some assignments you may want the students to peer edit the papers, and on others you may wish to edit them yourself.

    Oh, one last thing. Take advantage of graphic organizers. If you have access to Inspiration software, use it. Give your students tools to use to organize their writing. You may want to create worksheets which outline the writing process.

    Hope these ideas help,
    Donalyn in Georgia

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