Writing is arguably one of the most difficult subject matter in elementary education. Nowadays, the Common Core Curriculum is asking students to communicate, use critical thinking and creative skills, as well as collaborate with one another. To that end, I utilize the Step-Up to Writing program. Whether it’s an opinion piece, personal narrative, or informative writing, this program supports students in planning, organizing, and editing their thoughts onto paper.
Step Up to Writing allows students to plan and organize what they want to write before they write. By giving students the time and opportunity to plan, they think about and prioritize what they want to say when given a topic. This program supports students in their learning and enhances their ability to communicate verbally, and therefore develops their writing abilities.
This is the writing tool that I use in grades 2-4: Step Up to Writing Organizer
Here’s a sample after using the Step Up to Writing Organizer: Student Writing Sample
Step Up to Writing teaches students how to effectively communicate with both written and verbal expression. Often times, students have difficulty with writing. It can be a laborious task for a lot of students, and especially for our special education population and English Language Learners. “I don’t know what to write,” is a common response when students are tasked with this particular area. It is the most difficult skill to practice when compared to other subject areas like reading and math.
The Step Up to Writing organizer is a useful tool for students. It allows them to slow down the thinking process and allow for efficient planning. When I teach students how to use the organizer, I model, model, and model even more. Together as a class, I guide the rest of the students in developing a thesis statement. I let the students know that the introduction of our writing is crucial and lets the reader know what our writing will be about.
I might also support students in developing main ideas for their writing. This may take the form of listing possible main ideas on the board through brainstorming via student participation. I make sure to list at least five main ideas. Next, students must choose 2 or 3 of those listed main ideas. Students will have varying and/or similar main ideas. The details and elaborations must be student produced independently. I will model for the students what my details and elaborations look like. However, because I’ve guided the introduction and main ideas, students are expected to come up with their own voice producing original thought via details and elaborations in their writing. I may or may not assist with the concluding paragraph; it will depend on the makeup of the class. Students who are proficient and advanced will perform without teacher assistance. Students who struggle will have more intervention and teacher support.
Overall, I find the step up to writing program and organizer as a beneficial pre-writing activity. Authors and writers are not expected to produce writing on a whim. Why should students? If given effective writing tools, then students are able to excel with written expression, as well enhance as their verbal communication skills.
What ideas or strategies do you use to support student writing?