Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tracking Your Writers

I think anyone that does writer's workshop has a writing process chart of some sort hanging in their room to keep track of where their friends are in the writing process.  In my room, I've gone through several versions of this. 

Originally, I had a big ol' pocket chart with the writing process step headings at the top.  Each friend had an index card with their name on it that they would move as they hit each step of the process.  In the end the chart was just way too big and took up too much space in my room.

Next, I moved to a wheel with laundry clips.  I wrote my friends' names on the clip and they moved it to a different sector of the wheel as they hit that particular step.  It looked kind of like this, but a bit smaller and imaging laundry clips all around it.

This was also a fail for me.  The clips would fall off.  I couldn't tell exactly who was at each step.  It just wasn't working.

So then, I tried Popsicle sticks in a smaller chart.  Kind of like this one.
This worked because it was smaller, just about the size I wanted it to be.  It didn't work because I had a hard time telling who was in what step.  The Popsicle sticks would jumble together so I couldn't see names.  I actually then went out and got those paper pencils you see above, but they did the same thing.  One would fall behind the other not letting me see names.  Another fail.

It was last year that I finally found "THE ONE!
Here is what it looks like in my room:
In the white area I blocked out, I have written each of my friends' names in bold, black sharpie marker.  I can see it from across the room.  At the top, I wrote a step of the writing process on different color cards.  As my friends move through the steps, they change the color of the card.  Again, I can see this from any spot in my classroom and immediately know who is where.  The size is just perfect.  It's only about 22" high and 19" wide.

I also find my friends are much more eager to change their color than they were to move their card or clip on any of the other charts I've tried in the past.  Last year, I kept a small container with all the different color cards in them, but this year I just put all five cards in each pocket.  No lost cards that way!

The funny thing is that this is not sold as a writing pocket chart.  It's actually a behavior management chart.  Here is the exact chart I purchased from Lakeshore Learning Center. 
There is a small clear pocket for the white card with the students name and a larger clear pocket directly behind it for the color cards.  The pocket chart comes with all the cards.  It also comes with that, "How am I doing today?" header.  I just flipped it over and wrote my own title for writing. Here's the back of my title.
See, same chart!  If you notice in the section where I put the steps of the writing process, there are actually six slots, so you can break the process up into even one more step than I have.  If you use the top section for the steps of the writing process, you have room for  the names of 30 friends.  I used it for the headers, so mine will hold 24 names.  25 if I use the blank one at the top, which I do now because I got a new friend this month.

The best things about this chart for me would be the size and easy viewing.  It takes up a small space in my room, and I can quickly see exactly who is where.  One last thing.  I have also found that it tends to motivate my pokey puppies, those friends who seem to move at the pace of slow or slower.  When the colors start to change on that chart, they do not want to be the only one who hasn't moved on to the new color!

This pocket chart sells at Lakeshore for $21.95, but it is also at Amazon for the same price. I think it is well worth the price!  By the way, this is all my opinion.  I'm not being paid to push any products here. This is just what's working for me as far as tracking my writers.  How do you keep track of yours?


  1. Hi Nancy:
    I like this idea! I need to look for a chart with more sections--I have too many kids for this one. But I really like the idea of a "quick visual." Thanks for sharing...

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  2. Love your chart idea! I just nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award. Check it out on my blog. Congrats!

  3. OOOh I do like this one! I'll have to check for it! Love your blog!

  4. Such a great idea! I taught kindergarten and my behavior chart has been put away for several years. Glad it will have a new lease on life! BTW, love your blog!!

  5. Thanks for the shout-out! This was the first time I had used the Oreo activity (it was part of an online project I joined), but the kids enjoyed it SOOOO much, it definitely won't be the last time!

    Runde's Room

  6. oops - meant to post this comment on the post above ... LOVING ALL the ideas so much, I just kept scrolling down your posts.


  7. I love this idea. I will use it this fall in my sixth grade writing class.

  8. I love this idea! Our principal wants this posted in our classroom with a status check, so this will be ideal. I just ordered the lakeshore pocket chart, there's a 20% discount right now, if you use code 2187.

  9. I love this idea. I will use it this fall in my fifth grade writing class.