The next component I introduce (just like Gail and Joan suggest) is Work on Writing. Because it is so much like Read to Self, it makes sense to introduce it next. The major difference is that kids are writing instead of reading. :)
My first graders write in monthly journals. Each month, they are given a new paper journal. Each journal has a picture space and writing lines for each entry. The amount of lines and picture space change throughout the year. Early in the year, it is a big picture space with only 2 writing lines. By the end of the year, it is a smaller picture space with lots and lots of writing lines! (I do save their Aug/Sept journal and give it to them at the end of the year when they take home their May journal. It really drives home the point of how much they've learned!)
One thing I tried was an idea from a 1st grade colleague. She used spiral notebooks as topic journals that the whole class could contribute to. These are a few of the ones I made (using my DJ Inkers clip-art, of course!) So, for example, in the "Ouch!" notebook, everyone would write about and/or respond to what others had written about a time they got hurt. Kind of like a blog... but not on the computer! One child writes in a notebook during a session, so again this is similar to Read to Self in that it is a "Write by yourself" time. They can choose any journal that interests them! Other topics I've included dinosaurs, pets, Webkinz, family, and animals.
This year, in January, I introduced blogging to my first graders. While that is another topic in and of itself, it did eventually become a choice for Work on Writing time. I only have one classroom computer, so only one child can blog during each session... but as you can imagine, it was a popular choice! Students were supposed to write a new post and then respond/read other people's posts during their time. I chose to use KidBlogs.org because it seemed fairly simple and had an option to keep it private. I figured this was a good option since I wasn't sure how well parents would receive the idea! Overall, I was extremely happy with how this worked! I am going back to revisit how I introduce the concept of blogging, but I loved having the option for Work on Writing time.
During Work on Writing time, I also thought about what exactly I wanted my kids to write. Other than the topic journals, my first graders have free choice about what they write! During other times of the day and minilessons, we share ideas for topics and usually have several charts around the room where they can look for ideas. I often reference writing ideas when we read books together, too. This free choice usually increases motivation for writing!
So, no. I don't have lots of writing tools or fancy pens or pretty paper. There is nothing wrong with that, though! Just remember that consistency is key. The Sisters mention a ballet studio. The studio doesn't change, but the work happening inside of it does. That's why I lean towards having my kids do as much writing as possible in the same ways throughout the year. I save the fancy tools for other times! ;)
What are your tools for Work on Writing time? Do you have ideas to share? I'd love to hear from you!
Coming up next... Listen to Reading!