Thursday, November 3, 2011

Use Your Writing VOICES!

Before I get on with the real topic of this post, let me thank all of you who were able to commiserate with me on the substitute situation.  It seems like many of you have been there too!  I think I finally have my friends back on track. It's amazing how long it takes to recover from one wacky day!  Now, on to writing. . .

At the start of the school year, I was looking for a new way to focus my friends on the six traits of writing and the reading strategies we use.  I came across the idea of using "VOICES" to emphasize writing traits while searching the web.  It seemed a perfect fit for what I was hoping to do in writing.  Here is a picture of my VOICES board that I took a little earlier in the year.  We have more cards under each category at this point in the year.
You can see that the six traits are listed at the top, forming "VOICES."  Under each one, we put a reminder of the writing skill or strategy we have worked on.  Here are a few up-close pictures of the different categories.

As we do a mini-lesson on a certain trait, I write a card that summarized the idea.  I then have a friend place it under the correct trait category. I find the best time to do this is at the end of the period, during sharing time. It's a great close to the lesson after my friends have shared how they used the skill in writing that day.

Ideally, it would be better if a different student wrote the actual card each day.  More participation and ownership for them.  However, my writing period is so short for all I have to do, I just don't have time.  I usually just prewrite them before the lesson or quickly between a conference. 

Here's why this bulletin board works so well.  It is right above my meeting table.  It's super easy to refer to during conferencing.  It's also pretty big which makes it easily visible from anywhere in the room.  If I'm meeting with a student at their desk, we can still both easily refer to it.  Also, having the strategies and skills we have been working on posted like that allows me to quickly draw a friends attention to a strategy that they may need.  For example, I can meet with a friend and say, "I notice in your paper that in this paragraph many of your sentences begin with I.  Look at our sentence fluency chart.  Which idea up there do you think will help with this?" As I noted earlier, there are more ideas/skills up there than the one in the picture at this point in the year. 

This works the brain of my friend in a couple of ways.  It forces them to evaluate the ideas/skills in that category to determine which one addresses their need.  It also gives my friend a starting point.  In this example, once my friend identifies varying sentence beginnings as the skill they need to work on, we can then brainstorm some ways do that.   It's higher level thinking for my friend than if I just said, "Oh, we need to vary how these sentences start."

I've also seen other teachers use this chart for goal setting.  If there is a specific trait goal you want your friend to work on until your next conference, you set that as their weekly writing goal.  On the board, you would leave the area under the trait title empty.  This is where, once your friend has set a writing goal with you, they put their name on a sticky and put it on the chart.  I kind of like this idea, but just haven't gotten around to doing it.  I think it would work well if only because it's quick reminder to you as to what trait each friend should be working on.  However, something about posting their names under areas of need for all to see doesn't sit right.  I'll have to think more on that use of it.

Obviously, all the different ideas/skills for each trait won't fit on the board, but that's okay.  I only want the ones that are relevant to what we are currently learning up. It also allows me to put up again the ones I notice we need to revisit.  Either way, it's always current and applicable to what my friends are working on.

So, that's how I've been using my VOICES board.  It's my first year using it, but I think it's a keeper for me!  Tomorrow, I will post the board I have for reading strategies.  It's fairly similar, but is all about FACES, not VOICES!

UPDATE:  I got a lot of requests for the headings I made.  I'm glad you like them.  There is a link for the "VOICES" headings in this blog post.   They will download in a PDF.  Enjoy!

35 comments:

  1. Excellent idea! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I'm so happy I found your blog! I love how you present information to your kids and your organization is wonderful!! Thanks for sharing all of your ideas, I love reading them :)
    Kristen
    Ladybug's Teacher Files

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  3. I don't just love this, I freaking love this! This will be up in my classroom before Christmas break...and that is a high priority on my never-ending to-do list thanks to Pinterest!

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  4. I really do love this! I'll have to work on it for my class the next time around. Do you have the word copies of this to share? My email is askforlisa@yahoo.ca. Thanks again for sharing.

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  5. I found your blog two days ago, and I am in LOVE! I teach 10th and 11th graders, but you have so many ideas that I believe will work with only small modifications! You are wonderful! :)

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  6. Hi I am a first year teacher and I LOVE THIS IDEA!! it is so great. I have all of the board up but am wondering if you would share the word copies with me as well? hauptl@issaquah.wednet.edu

    Thanks for all the wonderful ideas!!

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  7. Oh my! Would you share the six traits words? I just started with the Six Traits and love these! I have the FACE of a Reader board up in my class and this would compliment it so well!

    Melly<><
    staplersstrategies@gmail.com
    Stapler’s Strategies for Sizzlin' Second Graders!

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  8. Great idea, can't wait to try it. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. Love this! Would you share the word documents with me for the headings?

    kellierob@gmail.com

    Thanks :o)!

    -Kellie

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  10. Love this! Would you share the word documents with me for the headings?

    kellierob@gmail.com

    Thanks :o)!

    -Kellie

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    1. Hi Kellie. I got quite a few requests for the headers, so I did a post about them on January 2, 2012. There's also a link there to the clip art site I used to make them. But, to make life easier, I edited the post above to add the link that will take you to the post and links. I know you asked for them in Word, but I don't have them in Word. I had saved them as a PDF. Sorry!

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  11. I would love to see an updated photo of the board if you have added more skills/ideas under each trait heading. Fantastic idea!

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    1. I made a curriculum overview and more ideas for information underneath. Follow my blog...http://kstepanteaching.blogspot.com/

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  12. I just discovered your blog and I feel like a kid in a candy store! Thank you so much for sharing these amazing resources!

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  13. I love this idea. I am using FACES as well. I think think will compliment it nicely!

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  14. I would also love to see an end of the year picture to see what skills you teach!!

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  15. Thanks so much for sharing, this is a cool idea and will be very useful to both me and my husband :-)

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  16. AWESOME ... definitely on my to do list for next year!

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  17. Brilliant! Fits in so well with CAFE. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  18. I love this idea. I think a way to accommodate your friends suggestion for using a sticky note under the trait a friend needs to improve upon for the next writing, each friend could have a copy of the chart in their writing folder that they can jot notes on or use sticky notes on. This way it is private for them, and you and your friend remember what you last conferenced on. Then once the trait has been improved upon the sticky note can be removed and you can add a new one for their next goal!

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  19. I love this idea. I'm planning to start daily 5 this upcoming school year and this fits right in with the Cafe menu. I am definitely going to use this. Thanks for sharing.

    Stop by my blog at Teacherofscholars.blogspot.com.

    I'm new to the blogging world so I've been looking for blogs to follow. I'll definitely join yours. I'm always looking for ideas that I can use in my classroom.

    Katrina

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  20. Thanks for the post - the board looks great!! Can't wait to incorporate it (or something like it!) into my classroom.

    Kim

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  21. Wow! I really like this! Thanks for sharing the headers!

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  22. What is your district adopted writing curriculum that you get your writing lesson ideas from? Some looks familiar from Ralph Fletcher.

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  23. Love the idea! I'm trying it this year!

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  24. Love the idea! I'm trying it this year!

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  25. Love it!! Love it!! I am so happy I came across your blog. We do 6 plus 1 and the teachers are having a hard time with it. I really enjoy this site. I am printing and going to use it in my classes. I will also let me coworkers know about it. Thanks, Very creative!!

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  26. These look great. I think I am going to use this for my classroom!

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  27. I want to comment on your idea of putting sticky names with student names on them to indicate an area the child needs to work on. All of your students will be setting a goal, even those doing very well will be working toward doing even better. Therefore, you could have all students place a sticky name under the category they are working on. This prevents it from being a "wall of shame" and turns it into a way for students to remember their goals. You caould have students replace the sticky notes with stars with their names on them when they meet their goal. This would be a way for students to be reminded of their accomplishments.

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  28. I also use "Faces" for my reading strategies. With a twist, my header says "the FACE of a reader". As the border I put pics of famous ppl reading and as the year progressed, changed them out with pics of my students, teachers/admins in the building, parents who came to read, etc. I teach in a middle school resource room so it is important that the kids want to come to the RR for support. They loved to see the changes and visited the b.board frequently to see the new pics - even if I hadn't "called them to come".

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  29. I was suggested this website by my cousin. I'm not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my difficulty. You are amazing! Thanks!
    Look at my blog post ... how to make a app

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  30. I have grabbed th voices idea off pinterest and have found your blog a great way for me to get started. As we work a lot different in New Zealand I am able to adapt from you concept.
    Thank You

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