On a rainy day last fall, Grade 2 students gathered around a paper 'campfire' huddled on the floor in sleeping bags, as each student read aloud a story they had written. This event was the culmination of a five week unit which focused on narrative writing.At the end of the unit, each student had written a four page story about one "small moment" in their lives and shared it with their classmates. "Since our unit involved Jane Yolen's Owl Moon as a mentor text, lights were off in the classroom and we projected an image of a full moon on the smart board.Students took turns reading their stories with the help of a flashlight," said Lori McNulty, Grade 2 Teacher. "It was a wonderful celebration of their first milestone in this year's Writers' Workshop program."
The Writers' Workshop
program in the Lower School utilizes the Teachers College (Columbia University) Reading and Writing Project Units of Study in Writing. These units of study in opinion, information, and narrative genres of writing offer our students a comprehensive and exciting curriculum that touches on the prominent genres of writing that students will need to become familiar with moving into Middle and Upper School."It is a dynamic and highly research-backed program that engages students to plan, draft, edit, and revise their writing in a goal-oriented manner that encourages writer independence and creativity in each student's written expression.Using consistent language, classroom structure, and integrated performance assessments within the program, teachers are able to work with student's personal writing goals and develop their writing along grade-level learning progressions," said Lindsay Wyman, LS Director of Teaching and Learning.
In Grade 2, students worked on their stories daily and completed all the steps of the writing process, including planning, writing, revising and editing. They learned how to make meaningful word choices, how to make characters move through actions and dialogue, and how to create a feeling or mood for their story. "The campfire was a special way to celebrate their creativity and how much they have all grown as writers," said Mrs. McNulty.
Each week during Writers' Workshop time in classrooms throughout the Lower School, students work on one of the genres of writing, either Opinion, Narrative, or Informational.Throughout the writing process, teachers are guiding students in small group conferences and 1:1 conferring sessions, to work on personalized goals to help each writer/author improve upon their written work."Author celebrations" in the classrooms encourage students to own their own creativity and independence in creating their own pieces of written expression. "The celebrations, like the Grade 2 'campfire' storytelling, allow students to see themselves not only as students in a classroom, but as authors of these different genres of writing," said Ms. Wyman.