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Student Writing Teams: How They Work

By Beth Newingham on April 22, 2013
  • Grades: 3–5

When students are part of a writing team, they meet in groups of four to read their stories aloud and help each other improve the stories before taking them into first-draft form.

Students are placed into teacher-assigned writing teams and are given a checklist of questions for the author to ask of their team members after reading his or her story aloud to their group. The checklist is not always the same each month. It depends on which skills we are working on during our mini-lessons at any given time.

I have found that 3rd graders cannot focus on too many things at one time during revision, so each month my writers are looking for different things when listening to their peers’ stories. At the beginning of the year, the things on the checklist may be as simple as “Does my story have an exciting lead,” or “Does my story make sense?” As the year goes on and we begin focusing more on the traits of writing, the questions may become “Where in my story did I add exciting details?” or “Where in my story could I add more details?” This focused revision has been most effective in my classroom.

Throughout the year, students will continue to work with different classmates in ever-changing writing teams to share and revise the writing they do in their notebooks. Students use the feedback they receive in their writing teams to begin a first draft of the story they are taking out of their notebooks. The drafts are turned in to me, and I meet with each student to discuss and sometimes further revise the stories before they are published and added to the students' writing portfolios. Stories may also be published in other ways such as in hard cover books, online, or as a class newspaper.

Comments (2)

I really love your ideas in teaching writing - sounds fun and enjoyable especially for third graders

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