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Books to help me teach K-8 writing

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I want book recommendations for books that will help me be a better writing teacher. Many of the books I see recommended here are for high school/college level writing instruction and focus on essays. I'd like a book to help me see how to get a student from a non-writer to someone who is comfortable writing paragraphs and putting them together (report writing level, not essay writing level). 

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Understanding Writing might be helpful. It doesn't teach children to write paragraphs; it teaches them to write. They learn to do paragraphs, but that isn't the most important thing. Children learn to know who their audience is, to use more descriptive nouns and verbs rather than a boatload of adjectives and adverbs, to focus their writing on a smaller topic than to try to write about the whole thing, and more.

Here is Cathy Duffy's review.

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Anyone else? I'm not necessarily looking for curriculum; I just want something for younger grades. A resource book, a teacher theory book, something like that.

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The Writer’s Jungle focuses on how to support a writer’s voice, and develop their writing, but doesn’t give much how-to in the way of the transition from sentences to paragraphs to essays.

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I’ve been on the hunt for the same type of thing, and recently saw The Writing Revolution  by Judith Hochman recommended here.  I’m only a couple of chapters in, but I am so excited about it.  I love the author’s emphasis on writing across subjects, sentence-level writing exercises, and grammar instruction within the context of composition.  And it is full of ideas to scaffold instruction for grades 1-8 (maybe higher).  
 

I’ve been itching to move away from a dedicated writing curriculum and into a writing-across-the-curriculum approach, but my own ability and confidence (or lack thereof) to assign and assess appropriate tasks has been the limiting factor.  This book provides a framework I’m excited to implement.  Its ideas are concrete enough to give me true guidance, yet flexible enough to adapt to my student and what we’re doing in other subjects.  Again, I’m only a few chapters in so can’t give a full review, but what I’ve learned so far has already been worth it🙂

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Well, it is curricula (sort of) -- but in the elementary grades, I really liked some of the Write Source HANDbooks (the Skills Books are separate work books, and not what I am referring to). The Handbooks are written to the student, but I got a lot out of them myself.  At increasing grade-level of explanation and depth of info, each book has sections that cover:

- Process of Writing
- Forms of Writing
- Tools of Learning
- Proofreader's Guide

Write One (gr. 1) and Write Away (gr. 2) were really too simplistic to be useful, but Write on Track (gr. 3), Writer's Express (gr. 4-5), Write on Course (gr. 6-8), and Writer's Inc (gr. 9-12)  had a lot of helpful info at appropriate grade-level instruction. There are several different editions out there -- they seem to have put out a new edition about every 5-8 years or so. It looks like the newest edition (at the publisher's link in first paragraph) has changed a lot to make it into a more formalized writing & grammar curriculum (see the Cathy Duffy review for details). It looks like the current Handbooks have a section on "Writing Across the Curriculum". That similar info may be under the section of "Forms of Writing" in the older edition handbooks that I used years back.

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4 hours ago, maptime said:

I’ve been on the hunt for the same type of thing, and recently saw The Writing Revolution  by Judith Hochman recommended here.  I’m only a couple of chapters in, but I am so excited about it.  I love the author’s emphasis on writing across subjects, sentence-level writing exercises, and grammar instruction within the context of composition.  And it is full of ideas to scaffold instruction for grades 1-8 (maybe higher).  
 

I’ve been itching to move away from a dedicated writing curriculum and into a writing-across-the-curriculum approach, but my own ability and confidence (or lack thereof) to assign and assess appropriate tasks has been the limiting factor.  This book provides a framework I’m excited to implement.  Its ideas are concrete enough to give me true guidance, yet flexible enough to adapt to my student and what we’re doing in other subjects.  Again, I’m only a few chapters in so can’t give a full review, but what I’ve learned so far has already been worth it🙂

 

Thanks for this! It is now sitting in my Amazon cart. Be sure to come back and update or pm me.

My Son 2 says writing as a separate subject was not very useful. He said I should teach the others to write within other subjects and most especially how to make an outline (not from an already pretty much an outline encyclopedia). 

8Fills's Treasured Conversations/Teaching Writing Through Guided Analysis (only available through Dec!) is another one you might peek at.

https://treasuredconversations.com/product/teaching-writing-through-guided-analysis/

 

Edited by Paradox5
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My library has both Writing Revolution and Writer's Express, so I'll get those and take a look at them.

I've been neglecting writing across the curriculum because my oldest likes science and history and dislikes writing--I didn't want to make him dislike the content subjects as well. I'm hoping to get him remediated enough this year that we can start doing some writing with history next year. My youngest is at a stall in WWE, and I'd like to take another route before doing the next level. 

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16 hours ago, Paradox5 said:

 

Thanks for this! It is now sitting in my Amazon cart. Be sure to come back and update or pm me.

 


I totally will!  I was already thinking about starting a thread once I’m finished to see if anyone else has read it and wants to talk about ideas gleaned from it.  I hope you find it helpful!

 

10 hours ago, silver said:

My library has both Writing Revolution and Writer's Express, so I'll get those and take a look at them.


Yay!  I love it when my library has a book I want to peruse, especially if it’s an unknown commodity.  I will warn you, I originally picked up TWR from the library, and within a few days it was in my Amazon cart😂

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21 hours ago, Lori D. said:

Well, it is curricula (sort of) -- but in the elementary grades, I really liked some of the Write Source HANDbooks (the Skills Books are separate work books, and not what I am referring to). The Handbooks are written to the student, but I got a lot out of them myself.  At increasing grade-level of explanation and depth of info, each book has sections that cover:

- Process of Writing
- Forms of Writing
- Tools of Learning
- Proofreader's Guide

Write One (gr. 1) and Write Away (gr. 2) were really too simplistic to be useful, but Write on Track (gr. 3), Writer's Express (gr. 4-5), Write on Course (gr. 6-8), and Writer's Inc (gr. 9-12)  had a lot of helpful info at appropriate grade-level instruction. There are several different editions out there -- they seem to have put out a new edition about every 5-8 years or so. It looks like the newest edition (at the publisher's link in first paragraph) has changed a lot to make it into a more formalized writing & grammar curriculum (see the Cathy Duffy review for details). It looks like the current Handbooks have a section on "Writing Across the Curriculum". That similar info may be under the section of "Forms of Writing" in the older edition handbooks that I used years back.

 

I see the teachers guides for these new editions are free online and have some pages from the student workbook too. e.g. the page for Write on Course (gr 6-8) "Writing Across the Curriculum" starts at https://k12.thoughtfullearning.com/teachersguide/write-course-20-20-teachers-guide-table-contents/36-writing-science with links to the next page (social studies).

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20 hours ago, silver said:

...I've been neglecting writing across the curriculum because my oldest likes science and history and dislikes writing--I didn't want to make him dislike the content subjects as well. I'm hoping to get him remediated enough this year that we can start doing some writing with history next year. My youngest is at a stall in WWE, and I'd like to take another route before doing the next level. 


My older DS (in his late 20s), just recently told me that "writing ruined everything". 😪😫 He said that in response to me saying, "hey, remember when we were studying XYZ about geography in elementary grades and it was so cool?" And he said, "Yea, it was cool -- until you made us do some writing." 

Wah! And precisely *because* both DSs HATED writing, I was always so very careful to NOT do very much "writing across the curriculum" so as to NOT "ruin" the content subjects. Sigh. Sometimes, I do think it was better to just contain the writing mostly within the scope of a Writing program, so DSs didn't feel like they would suddenly be "surprised" with having to produce "output" -- but instead could be free to learn informally.

(Side note: I think Wordsmith Apprentice (gr. 4-6), and Jump In (gr. 6-9) were helpful in not being soul-crushing in teaching writing in the way that WWE and WWS would have been for the specific learning styles and interests of both of our DSs. Just to clarify -- I do think WWE and WWS are great for many students -- but would totally have NOT been a fit for either of my DSs.)

I just share all of that with you because for some kids, no matter how you tackle Writing, they may hate it. Period. So if you're planning on moving away from a Writing curriculum and doing writing across the curriculum, I'd suggest making it very very very clear from the get-go: "We're NOT going to be writing about all of these books or field trips or whatever. We are just picking this ONE book or specific topic or whatever, and we will write ____ amount about it, which will take us ____ amount of days." Containing the writing very narrowly in that way may help prevent writing from "ruining" (lol) the subject areas.

Also, I suggest to be very clear with a checklist or rubric at the outset of the assignment, if you are planning on revising the piece of writing, so the student can mentally be prepared: "Oh, I will be working on this piece of writing and coming back and re-working it probably several times. Don't like that, but at least I'm not being surprised by mom springing a re-write on me." Writing-haters absolutely need very clearly-spelled out expectations of how much time the writing is going to take, and esp. if they are going to have to come back and rework/revise a piece. I'm finding this is true even of my struggling high school writers in my co-op classes.

Just a few thoughts, FWIW. Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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On 12/28/2019 at 8:55 AM, maptime said:

I’ve been on the hunt for the same type of thing, and recently saw The Writing Revolution  by Judith Hochman recommended here.  I’m only a couple of chapters in, but I am so excited about it.  I love the author’s emphasis on writing across subjects, sentence-level writing exercises, and grammar instruction within the context of composition.  And it is full of ideas to scaffold instruction for grades 1-8 (maybe higher).  
 

I’ve been itching to move away from a dedicated writing curriculum and into a writing-across-the-curriculum approach, but my own ability and confidence (or lack thereof) to assign and assess appropriate tasks has been the limiting factor.  This book provides a framework I’m excited to implement.  Its ideas are concrete enough to give me true guidance, yet flexible enough to adapt to my student and what we’re doing in other subjects.  Again, I’m only a few chapters in so can’t give a full review, but what I’ve learned so far has already been worth it🙂

I just got this book as well! I am several chapters in and I am so full of ideas from it. I highly recommend it. This book is really, really helpful. SOme of what it recommends are concepts found in Killgallon books, which I would also recommend. Killgallon takes some of what The writing Revolution recommends and turns it into a series of quick exercises for students to work through. Things such as practicing including appositives, noun phrases that describe the noun usually immediately prior (see what I did there?). 

Please get TWR. I dont think you will be disappointed.

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I think we should start a The Writing Revolution thread, but in the meantime...

For writing across the curriculum, they had this super easy suggestion called "because, but, so" (or, as I think of it, "Because, Butso"). Essentially, you take a start of a sentence from anything you are studying, and do this:

"Helium is a noble gas, because..." 

"Helium is a noble gas, so..."

Helium is a noble gas, but..."

And the student needs to finish the sentences. This can be done orally.

"The one ring to rule them all needs to be destroyed, because..." (but... so...)

"Whales are mammals because/but/so..."

"Socrates was forced to drink poison because/but/so..."

"The angles of a triangle add up to 180deg because/but/so..."

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11 hours ago, annegables said:

I think we should start a The Writing Revolution thread, but in the meantime...

For writing across the curriculum, they had this super easy suggestion called "because, but, so" (or, as I think of it, "Because, Butso"). 


Yes!!!! The because/but/so exercise (or the “Because, Buttso”, as it shall forever be named in my mind- thanks for that) is the exercise I’m most excited to implement once we resume our studies after Christmas break.  I love that I can just start that one small thing now, without having to wait until I’ve read and mastered the entire book.

In the meantime, I find myself mentally constructing my own sentences from random sentence stems throughout the day.  

”She loves chocolate cake because....”

That’s normal, right?😂

Edited by maptime

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2 hours ago, maptime said:


Yes!!!! The because/but/so exercise (or the “Because, Buttso”, as it shall forever be named in my mind- thanks for that) is the exercise I’m most excited to implement once we resume our studies after Christmas break.  I love that I can just start that one small thing now, without having to wait until I’ve read and mastered the entire book.

In the meantime, I find myself mentally constructing my own sentences from random sentence stems throughout the day.  

”She loves chocolate cake because....”

That’s normal, right?😂

Well, it is normal for me🤣. I love writing exercises that are thinking exercises. And this seems like a great conversation starter exercise. I think it will really enhance our read aloud end-of-chapter conversations. 

"Mom is annoyed Because, Buttso..."

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Another resource I and my kids have found helpful is Banish Boring Words https://www.amazon.com/Banish-Boring-Words-Reproducible-Just-Right/dp/0545083036/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=37YAB9O2AF1FR&keywords=banish+boring+words+gr+4-8+book&qid=1577729999&sprefix=banish+boring+words%2Caps%2C208&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUFPOU1aWllMNDVKQ1ImZW5jcnlwdGVkSWQ9QTA4NzU5ODAzVVZVM1dQVDlPQk42JmVuY3J5cHRlZEFkSWQ9QTAyMjM4MDBTU0ZQWEM4WlhMVU8md2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9hdGYmYWN0aW9uPWNsaWNrUmVkaXJlY3QmZG9Ob3RMb2dDbGljaz10cnVl

I know these lists are free on the interwebz somewhere, but I was having little luck searching (and I am on no social media or Pintrest, so that was a challenge). I love having an all-in-one resource that the kids can easily access that improves their writing and vocabulary with little effort. While this isnt a "teach writing" book, it helps reduce the "So-and-so is a good/kind/fun character." writing that I had been getting. 

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