Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pre-Writing Anchor Charts

I love anchor charts.
Let me say that again, I love anchor charts!  There was a big push at my school this past year to stop using so many anchor charts, focusing more on digital anchor charts which can be immediately shared with the learners' iPads and eliminating "extra clutter."  You can imagine how ruffled my feathers were hearing about that!

I do not think that the same anchor charts should be up all year, so I have done what other teachers have, and created an anchor chart binder which we practice using as a reference source.  The more you practice this skill, the more the students will do it on their own. By the end of the year my anchor chart binder had been thoroughly thumbed through. (Make sure you have an easy to understand index and that your pictures are in sheet protectors so they don't rip from use.)
I modeled mine off of this one from teachingmyfriends.blogspot.com

Since the start of the school year is just around the corner, I thought I'd share some of the anchor charts I use when beginning my writing workshop. We start with a "Cherry or Pit" story about their summer so I can assess their strengths and then we begin talking about different ways to generate topics for writing.

Generating Ideas:  Stones in the River
I have my students create a river in their writer's notebook that is filled with boulders, stones, and pebbles. We discuss that boulders are the important people, places, experiences and things in our lives and that the stones and pebbles are smaller bits of these.  This serves as a bank of ideas that learners can come back to and use for creating their narratives and stories.

Pre-writing Strategy One:  Mapping
This is the first strategy I introduce and the one that most learners return to when they construct texts on their own.  It is very straight forward and the kids love hearing the stories that emerge as I walk them through the process using examples from my own life.

Pre-Writing Strategy Two:  Timeline
This strategy can be a struggle for some learners as it is very liner and not very "exciting," but for other kids who are drawn more towards structure, this is a great strategy to share. (I teach this second so that both styles of learning are addressed early.) You will have to review what "chronological" means and walk learners through this process of ordering twice before writing.  Choose a fun and interesting story to keep your learners engaged. 

Pre-Writing Strategy Three:  Sketching
This model is used to engage those learners who are not naturally drawn towards writing.  It allows them to incorporate their artistic side with their text.  I have a lot of fun talking and drawing my story with my kids and particularly love sharing the story of my very fat cat, Teeny. (I also use Amelia's Notebook as a model text at the start of this writing session.)

These are the three main strategies I use when starting my writing workshop. I'll add more anchor charts in the near future.
Happy writing!

~Ms. Michelle Louise

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