Monday, January 11, 2016

Connect, Extend, Challenge

Our shared writing goal in 5th Grade is:  developing student ability to support their writing with evidence in all content areas.  Along with this goal, students are also held accountable for age appropriate: grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and sentence structure.

What I have tried so far is to be very purposeful in modeling and guiding  both large and small discussions in which students use text evidence to support their answers, as well as speaking in complete sentences.  I have given students sentence stems and group discussion norms to guide their discussions (this is a chart).

The norms are:

  • each person must contribute to the discussion, but take turns
  • Each person should show the others specific details from the text
  • students should ask questions. 
 Along with these norms, students are given the sentence stems of:

  • What would you like to add to my idea?  
  • Tell us what you're thinking"
  • My evidence is here on the ________ page in the __________ paragraph (students read the evidence out loud)
I have noticed a few things:
  • Students need to be consistently nudged/reminded to go back into the text (this is not a natural behavior for them or any of us:)
  • Students need lots and lots of practice, guidance, and modeling of how to have an oral discussion as well as how to transfer that oral discussion into writing
  • Citing evidence to support their thinking is not yet transferring to their writing.  Why not I ask?
My next steps:
  • Give the sentence stems to them so that during discussions, they have them right there as a guide.
  • Purposefully model how to write using evidence from the text


  1. That sounds very purposeful with lots of scaffolding for the students who need it. I know Ben is very excited about the next writing assignment. I need to remember to add scaffolds to my lessons. This was a great reminder

  2. I love your idea of the use of sentence stems. Can't wait to hear how they work...both positively and negatively

  3. I need sentence stems for math! I love the idea and I think it would really help the higher kids to slow down and identify what they actually did to solve the problems instead of thinking it just appeared in their minds.