As we all know, children have a tremendous amount to communicate! Throughout the day, our children are encouraged to write across subjects, but Writing Workshop is a time of the day when students work specifically to develop their writing skills. During Writing Workshop, children choose their own topic or idea within a specific unit of study (paragraphing, responding to literature, character essay, realistic fiction). Although they are in a common unit of study, they are encouraged to write about topics that are personally meaningful to them, while learning how to write in that particular genre. Teaching also focuses on grammar such as writing in complete sentences, using the appropriate punctuation, and spelling.
Unit 1- Paragraphing Focus Skills: Developing an idea, Organizing/Structuring a Paragraph, Elaborating- providing details that support your idea, Grammar- Complete Sentences, Capitalization, Punctuation, Spelling
The first Writing Unit focuses on learning how to write a paragraph about topic that is important to you. Children get the opportunity to write new paragraphs everyday, get feedback, and then revise the paragraph to make it better. By the end of the unit, students publish multiple paragraphs, setting them up for a successful year of writing.
Unit 2-Nonfiction Reading & Writing Unit This unit pairs nonfiction reading and writing. Through videos and short nonfiction texts, students explore adaptations animals have developed to survive in their environments. Students learn strategies for reading complex texts. Then apply those strategies as they research an animal of their choice and write an informational paragraph(s) about the animal’s adaptations.
Animal Adaptation Independent Project: Students use their knowledge from the Non Fiction Reading & Writing Unit to create a project on an independently researched animal. Students can create posters, powerpoint presentations or dioramas to teach their classmates about the animal’s habitat, adaptations and how the adaptations help the animal survive. Third graders present these projects in class. They work to present their projects in a way that is engaging and informative-thinking both about their delivery (eye contact, loud speaking voice) and the content of their project (explaining and elaborating on what they learned in their research).
Curriculum Connected Field Trips: During the Animal Adaptation Unit, Third graders visit:
The Genovesi Environmental Study Center to take part in Weapons of the Wild: Poison, Armor, Camouflage, Oh My!- an exciting workshop where students discover how organisms are able to survive and thrive by adapting to their environment in many ways. Students see firsthand the fascinating ways in which organisms use natural weaponry to defend themselves, hunt prey, or compete for resources to meet their particular needs within an ecosystem.
The Prospect Park Zoo to take part in the ANIMAL DEFENSES & ADAPTATION TOUR: On this trip, students will walk go on a guided tour of the zoo to discover how all animals need defenses to protect themselves from dangers in the wild! As students walk around the zoo, they will be encouraged to be on the lookout for animals with weapons (like horns, sharp teeth and claws) that help in catching prey or protecting their families. Students also discover how animals use coloration, chemicals and amazing behaviors to keep their families safe (and keep from being eaten).
Unit 3- Character Idea Essay- In this unit, third graders learn to write character idea essays. The unit begins with examining a mentor character essay to notice and name the characteristics of a character essay. Teachers spend time leading students through shared reading & writing activities with short texts. With teacher guidance, students practice developing ideas about characters and finding evidence to support their ideas. Together, teacher and students co-write a character essay from beginning to end- planning it, drafting it with examples and text details, and revising it. Then students write their own character idea essay on a short text- they practice finding parts of the text that support the character idea, plan their essay, and draft and revise their essay, all the while making sure they are using strong examples and text details that support their idea. By the end of the unit, third graders will publish their first ESSAY!
Unit 4- Writing About Reading During this unit, third graders learn how to write short responses on a variety of non fiction articles. First, students learn how to understand what the question is asking, then students practice going back in the text to re-read and find the answer. Finally, students learn how to answer the question using the A-D-D strategy or the R-A-D-D strategy.
A-D-D strategy Answer the question in the first sentence. D- give one text detail to support your answer. D- Give another text detail to support your answer. R-A-D-D strategy Restate & Answer the question in the first sentence. D- give one text detail to support your answer. D- Give another text detail to support your answer.
Students use a rubric of 0-1-2 to self assess their writing. In class, we l look at a variety of answers and practice scoring these based on the rubric. This allows students to further reflect on their own work and decide what they did well and what they can do better next time.
Unit 5- Become an Author! Realistic Fiction Writing In their final writing unit , third graders write their very own realistic fiction story! Students go through the process of developing ideas, drafting, revising, editing and publishing.
Third graders start by brainstorming different realistic fiction story ideas- the stories will be based on characters who are around their age- 7, 8, or 9 years old, so their story ideas will have to be realistic problems a child their age would encounter. Then they spend time developing a blurb summary of their story and their main character- what is the character’s likes/dislikes? What do they look like? What is the character's flaw (negative part of the character’s personality) that is causing their problem?
After developing the main character a bit, they plan their story usinga story mountain or story timeline that shows the important parts of their story. Third graders begin to see that authors make tons of decisions about how their stories will go! How does the problem get revealed in the beginning? What attempts will the main character make? What will happen to help the character solve their problem? Will the problem get solved or will there be a resolution where the character doesn’t get what they want, but they learn a lesson?
Once finished drafting, third graders go through the process of revising their stories-where they learn different ways authors make their writing more interesting for the reader. Then they edit and publish their realistic fiction story.