Work on Writing Choices in the Elementary Classroom... A Must Have Center!

The Writing Center is my favorite place in our classroom.


Why? "Work on Writing" is a place where students can practice writing every single day!


I'd love to take you through my Work on Writing center, and explain a little bit about the choices students have. PS - If you're wondering about the structure of when and how students visit Work on Writing, visit this blog post to learn more.


For now, let's dive into Work on Writing!



Here is what my Work on Writing center looks like:


colorful drawers with writing center labels on them: list, friendly letter, lined paper, how to, pick and write, and draw and label.


THE SETUP

- The drawer set is from Michaels. Teacher tip: remove the knobs for easy labeling!


- Speaking of labeling, the drawer labels are from The Organised Teacher over on TPT. They are editable, and F-R-E-E!


- Thematic Vocabulary Cards are from Cara Carroll over on TPT.


- I used clear frames from Amazon to display my "Work on Writing" center sign. This helps provide a clear visual of what and where the Work on Writing center is throughout the year.


You can download your free sign HERE if you'd like!



In my Work on Writing Center, I include seven choices: Let's go through them together!


PICK AND WRITE

This activity comes along with Cara's Thematic Vocabulary Cards. The students practice writing sentences featuring any of the vocabulary words displayed in the writing center! This option is great for working on sentence structure, capitalization, and punctuation.


DRAW AND LABEL

More suited for beginning writers, this writing choice ALSO comes along with the Thematic Vocabulary Cards! 


FREE WRITE

This is exactly what it sounds like! Students are free to write about whatever interests them. For those students who may have writers block (I was this kid!), I LOVE the monthly prompts from Heidi and Emily over at Second Story Window.


I typed out the prompts, and stuck them on fun cutouts that you can find at Dollar Tree, or any other teaching store! These prompts are switched out every month.




HOW TO

How To Writing is so much fun for students, because they get to be the expert on writing out steps for how to do something they're great at. Students also practice important learning concepts of using temporal words (first, next, then...), and being descriptive while using short, sequential steps!


RECIPE

Writing recipes allow for students to be both creative and organized! They need to provide a list of ingredients, as well as step-by-step directions for how to make their delicious dish. Yum!


LETTER

The parts and purpose of a Friendly Letter is a must-do lesson to introduce this center! One of the most important teaching points is why we write friendly letters, and who we write letters to (Family members, relatives, people we don't see that often...). This helps from friendly letters turning the corner and becoming "notes" that students just write to one another. 😉


LIST

We all make lists! This writing center is my very favorite. To introduce this center, we talk about when and why people might make lists. Grocery lists! Lists to remember tasks! You name it. Much like the thematic vocabulary cards, I display a seasonal collection of List Writing Options in our Writing Center.




List writing is SO beneficial for students. It helps them develop an awareness of spelling patterns, expand vocabulary, and connect concepts across the curriculum!

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If these Work on Writing ideas are something you'd like to incorporate in your classroom, you check out this collection of centers in my TpT store!




The List Writing part of this collection just got a HUGE update! You can now have access to 120 List Writing Prompts that can be used all year long.






Click HERE to download your free September and October List Writing Prompts.


Wishing you happy writing moments to come!


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How to Calmly Transition Back to the Classroom after Lunch and Recess

What is one of the trickiest times to transition back to instruction during the school day?


After Lunch or Recess.


LET'S START WITH LUNCH.

Research has shown that our bodies digest far better when they are relaxed, and when we can actually set aside enough time to simply eat (rather than cramming finding a spot to eat, having a conversation with a friend, eating lunch, and cleaning up in the span of what many students have to be 20-30 minutes). What should be a leisurely activity is often so rushed, for teachers and students both.


THEN, THERE'S RECESS.

Oftentimes, it can feel like herding cats when your students get off of the playground, and back into the classroom. Somebody left their jacket outside. Somebody else needs a drink of water. Somebody else needs to use the restroom. All the while, the energy is at an all-time high, and it takes 10 minutes (or more!) to have everyone back in learning mode.


Is there a solution for this?


YES. The answer?


REST!


In my classroom, we happen to transition from lunch right back to the classroom.


Before moving onto grabbing our math workbooks, we "Rest and Digest."


During this time, students are still and quiet. The lights are off as they grab a drink of water, make their way back to their seats, and settle in.


WHAT DO STUDENTS DO DURING REST AND DIGEST?


LISTEN TO CALMING MUSIC

I usually play soothing music or nature sounds from a YouTube video while students are making their way in, and all the while as their sitting at their seats.


We listen to the similar music/sounds during Writers Workshop, too. We call it our "brain music!"


COLOR OR DRAW

Using whatever materials students have easy access to (either in their desks, or readily accessible in the classroom), they can simply doodle.


READ A BOOK

This is literally no prep on your part! Reading while resting is an effective way for many students to calm down.


BREATHE

Teaching children to control their breathing gives them the ability to focus. It also helps instill self-control. Many deep breathing exercises can be explicitly taught. Deep "belly breathing" is a great place to start.


You can download my FREE "How To" Belly Breathing Poster HERE!


How To Steps for Deep Belly Breathing

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If Rest and Digest time is something you'd like to incorporate into your classroom, you check out these mini books in my TpT store! They will guide your students through the above strategies with explanations to make for a calm transition time.


Rest and Digest - A Tool for a Smooth Transition from Lunch to the Classroom
Rest and Digest - A Tool for a Calm Transition from Lunch to the Classroom
If transitioning from RECESS back to the classroom is what you want to focus on, you can check out the companion to Rest and Digest, Rest and Reflect!


Rest and Reflect - A Tool for a Calm Transition from Recess to the Classroom

Wishing you calming lunch & recess transition times to come!


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