Disclaimer... and credit where credit is due!

This blog is simply my thoughts, ideas, and suggestions related to the Daily Five and Cafe. I give full credit to the creators of both Daily 5 and Cafe, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, also known as The Sisters. I have attended their workshops, read their books, and subscribe to their website. Everything else, I've interpreted on my own! :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Getting the Teacher Started with Work on Writing

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. :)

You'll need to think about what tools you're going to use for writing time. Again, keep in mind that you can use "fun" stuff... but you'll want to try to keep it fairly consistent so kids focus on writing and not the novelty of new tools!

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!

~Komos :)


  1. Thanks for the great idea about the topic journals. I love that! Do you ever include handwriting in the Work on Writing part of Daily 5? At the beginning of the year I really have to emphasize handwriting in my first grade class. They need a lot of practice! I know that by writing in a journal they are practicing their handwriting but I'm talking about actually focusing on specific letters and formation.

  2. Thanks for the comment! No, I don't have children specifically working on handwriting during Work on Writing time. I've thought about it, but during Daily Five time, I want my first graders working indepedently. When I teach and review handwriting (especially at the beginning of the year,) I want to be able to walk around, monitor their progress, and assist children who are having difficulty forming their letters. During Daily Five time, I'm meeting with groups and/or individuals, so I'm not able to do that monitoring. You're right though! They are practicing handwriting as they do their Work on Writing (and even some Word Work) tasks. I'll look forward to checking out your website! :)

  3. What a great post :)

    We don't really have any special or fancy tools either. The students, grade 2/3, either write in their journals (just keytab notebooks) or choose to blog on one of the classroom computers (I have 6 computers in the classroom currently, but will have 3 ipads and a touch as well for the fall).

    The students can sit anywhere in the room they are comfortable for writing. Most of them grab a clipboard and go sit in some nook or cranny around the room.

    I like the shared journal idea too, thanks!


  4. Love the Journal idea - you could have blogs set up on Kidblog as part of your class with these topics, then more than one child can post at a time.
    My Gr 1 printing lesson was also separate from my Daily 5 sessions. At the beginning of the year we use Handwriting Without Tears, I also use their paper in duotangs for all notebooks throughout the year, then we do directed drawing as our fine motor practice as the year progresses.
    My Gr 1 students had a choice to post their writing to their blogs or to use their paper books. We share a portable set of laptops so we are always able to have at least 5/6 computers and my ipad to blog on. I found it interesting that the handwritten journalling appealed to some and the computer use appealed to others. This group of kids loved writing this year.
    A friend recommended No More, I'm Done by Jennifer Jacobson and I am loving it for ideas for writing. Please keep posting Laura, I am really enjoying your reflects and ideas!

  5. Thanks for the comments, Melody and Sarah! I know there are laptops in our library, and I am 99% positive they aren't being used. I'm thinking I need to do some poking around to figure out how to get them into my classroom!! That would give my kids even more possibilities. If I had more than one available, one comp could be for writing and one could be for Listen to Reading. Keep the ideas coming, friends! I love this sharing!! :)
    ~Laura :)

  6. What a great idea! I'm going to use this awesome idea in my classroom!
    Hilary :)

  7. Popping by to say Hi. You were spotlighted in my Blog Mixer Linky Party.

    Yearn to Learn Blog

  8. I love your idea about a monthly journal. How many pages do you put into their monthly journal? The topic journals are great too. I added a Tooth Fairy Journal too.


  9. I am whipping up some topic journals tonight. . .love them!

  10. I found your blog through Pinterest and your adorable topic notebooks for work on writing! I was so excited, I had to make some for my classroom!! I gave you the credit and linked to your awesome blog! I am new to Daily 5 and CAFE so glad to have found your blog!! It's wonderful:)

    4th Grade Frolics

  11. I've just popped over from Tara's blog. I love the shared journal idea. This will be my next weekend project.

    I haven't introduced work on writing yet (we're still concentrating on read to self), but once we're up and going I'll incorporate the journals.


    A Time to Share & Create


    Fabulous 4th Grade

  12. I'm so excited to see so many people talking and sharing ideas here! I'm looking forward to checking out your blogs as well!

    Topic journals are definitely a big hit! Love that so many are creating their own. :)

  13. I am a librarian in a small k-12 school and you have definatley given me ideas for centers when I have classes.

  14. Do you have a link to the monthly journals? I will be starting the school year for a 12 week maternity leave and the teacher has never used Daily 5. She would like me to get it started and I have used it for long terms at other grades, never first. I am looking for some ideas. Thanks!

  15. The topic journals are a GREAT idea!! I am starting the Daily 5 and CAFE for the first time this year! I'm excited!! Any suggestions or recommendations would be greatly appreciated! :)

  16. Love your journal idea, especially how the students will have the opportunity to respond to their classmates' thoughts. Thank you!

  17. Love the journal idea & the blog idea as well! Do you have the journal covers for sale?
    Mel D

  18. I use this with my 6th graders and they love it, especially when I write in the journals!

  19. I'm new to Daily 5 and am also looking for ways to motivate my students. I can hardly wait to implement the topic journals with my students.

  20. Fantastic idea! I am going to use this in my 1/2 combo class this year.

  21. I am new to Daily 5 this year as well. I wanted something more appealing for my first graders instead of the traditional literacy centers. I love your site found it via Pinterst. I look forward to learning more about Daily 5 from your site.

  22. What a great idea! I love these topics journals! Thanks a lot!

  23. I LOVE the shared class journals and have made my own for this school year. I am moving from 4th grade to 2nd. I feel they will be a big "hit" during Work on Writing!!! Thanks for the inspirations!!!
    =) Beth

  24. I love the shared class journals too, and I think they'd be great for any grade! I'm wondering how long it typically takes to setup each section (read to self, work on writing, etc) before moving on to the next? Thanks so much for your help!

  25. I am so glad I found your blog! So many wonderful ideas. Thanks for sharing.

  26. I have a folder of old calendar pictures ready for kids to pick from to use as writing starters. I had several kids that really took off with this last year.

  27. I love the idea of blogging journals. I really like the idea of a blogging website since in the new common core typing and using different things on the computers are standards. This is also a great way to have students share their writing and I can even write something in it now and then. I will have to introduce this after this week (it's a short week with an inservice and conferences). Thanks for the ideas!!

  28. This is great! And although it is geared to K-2, I can see this format and you writing ideas used in the upper grades. Thanks for sharing : )

    The Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher