Word Work and Work on Writing in my Classroom

07 December 2015 / Leave a Comment
Hey everyone! It is Cassie from Funky in Fourth. I have been using a Daily 5 structure in my classroom for a few years. Even though it is the structure, I have adapted it to fit my teaching style, timeframe and my students. The two centers I struggled with the most were Word Work and Work on Writing. I need to make sure that what I was teaching during my whole group LA and during my mini-lessons was transferring over to our centers. I finally feel like these two centers are effective and worthwhile in my classroom and my students are loving our center time

I have just about 100 minutes (1 hour and 40 minutes) for my Language Arts block. I spend the first 45 minutes doing my Daily 5 rotations. Then we work on writing for about 20 minutes. The last chunk of time is spent doing whole group LA (our basal text). We do three 15 minute rotations (one right after the other) for Daily 5. The "true" Daily 5 would have mini lessons in between each rotation, but I just don't have time in my schedule to do that. All my core teaching happens during our whole group LA. 

While my students are working on their Daily 5 stations, I am pulling guided reading groups, working with struggling readers, completing reading interventions and more! It allows me to work with all of my students. I also use this time to conduct reading conferences with all of my students (I do 3 conferences each day). They are just a few minutes long so it is easy get them in. 

I have a folder for each of my students' reading conference sheets so I can grab a few of the folders out during my prep and then I know who I am going to meet with. Want the Reading Conference form? Click HERE.

I would love to have the time to change my activities weekly. It just isn't something that I will be able to make work (without feeling stressed out each week). So, I have created word work tubs that stay pretty much the same, with a few new activities thrown in here and there to refresh the tubs.

I found the small blue Sterilite tubs at Walmart for $0.99. I made a quick label for the outside so they wouldn't get confused with our writing tubs.

My students use a composition notebook for all of their word work activities. This keeps it handy, organized and allows me to easily check to see if they worked hard during our Daily 5 time. I do NOT grade Daily 5 work, however I do award up to 5 extra credit participation points each week if students were on task all 5 days. My students keep their notebooks right next to our word work tubs! No more missing notebooks!! No more wasting time!

Each tub is set up the exact same (so it doesn't matter which tub a student grabs). Each tub has a dictionary, coin/letter chart, a set of spelling words, colored markers (for a few of the activities), and spelling activities on a ring. These activities are NO-PREP. They work with any spelling list for most ages! It is super easy to switch out a few of the activities on the rings each month to change up the routines.

With all of the materials that my students would need, they can just grab a tub and move around the room to find a good place to work. Here are some examples of some of the activities:

                             Red or Blue                               Rainbow
                               Pyramid                                  Silly Story
There are tons of word work activities on Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers. You can grab my set of 25 No-Prep Activity Cards in my TpT Store. The four activities above are included!

I have the same setup for my Work on Writing center. I have 6 tubs labeled with Work on Writing. Inside the tubs are writing prompts, story stones, story tags, a highlighter and mini-anchor charts. As we learn new ways to make us better writers, I add a small anchor chart into the tubs to keep my students focused during Work on Writing. 

My students use a separate composition notebook for the writing. The tubs are stored right next to the writing journals. We also use our writing journals for free writes, writing prompts during our basal text and also when we respond to texts.

I think Work on Writing is now my students' favorite center. The writing prompts change every other week (or so). You can find writing prompts on Teachers Pay Teachers and Pinterest. I have a bunch of sets in my TpT store HERE.

The story stones were super easy to make. I just picked up some cheap rocks from the Dollar Store. Then I stuck some scrapbooking stickers on the top of the rock, added a light coat of Mod Podge (so my students couldn't peel the stickers off) and they were done! Students just pick two rocks and tell a story about them!
The biggest thing I challenge my students to do during Work on Writing is write a variety of pieces. Lots of times my students just want to write silly stories. One of the mini-anchor charts that I have in my tub has a list of other things they can write. I love when they write songs, letters, poems and riddles!

My students can also use their writing notebooks to brainstorm their writing. I have taught them a variety of ways to brainstorm. They can make lists, bubble maps, word connections, character mapping and so many more. My students also do rough drafts and final copies in their journals. With their rough drafts, we don't worry about spelling.

I love that my students are applying what I am teaching during my writing instruction to their writing during Daily 5. I am seeing huge growth in their writing. How do you make Daily 5 in your classroom? I would love to hear some new ideas!!


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