Second Grade Writing Warm-Ups: Week of April 18-21, 2016

This was our second week of second grade writing warm ups, and they have been just as successful as they were when I first started them in 5th grade (remind me of this for next year when I forget that again, ok? LOL).

We’re in the drafting/revising/editing part of the writing cycle, so that is reflected in the warm-ups I had them try this week.  Check ’em out!  We’d love to know what you have to say about them, too, so leave a comment when you’re done! 🙂


This warm-up goes with the one we did last Friday, as we added details to our fiction with adjectives.  And yes, I quickly realized there were WAY TOO MANY WORDS on this chart, when someone’s first response was “Wow–that’s a lot….”  Oops.  I think they got it, for the most part, though.  Since this day we’ve been recognizing them everywhere and talking about how they help the reader.  Many have added some to their drafts.   I’ll revise for next time.  🙂



This question is obviously very general, mainly because I knew that our focus in Writers’ Workshop this day would be to finish up (hopefully!) what we’d been working on for the last few days (rather than something new).  We had a design challenge planned for pretty much the whole morning and so our time would be cut a little short for writing, as well.  It also helped me get a better gauge on where everyone was with their drafts.  There are a couple of post-its that say “I haven’t revised yet.”  These friends obviously needed more time!



I tweeted this picture after we did on it, because I was so impressed by the work they had done on it!  The endings they chose to post were really thoughtful ones, and then our synthesis of what makes a “good” ending was also great thinking!

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I had them finish this stem “A good ending…” and this is what we decided upon:

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We had a great conversation about how a “good” ending is not any one thing, and that it depends on the story you’re writing, as well as your goals for how you want your reader to respond to your text.  Notice the adverb that someone pointed out from our conversation on Monday. 🙂


I’m not even sure where I learned that phrase, but long ago I was taught that about the idea of editing being a “courtesy to the reader.”  We touched on it at least a little last year in first grade, but I wanted to get their thoughts on it now, as we began editing our pieces for publishing next week.  And since I knew they might need help (or at least a reminder) with what courtesy means, I added it to the question.  They had great suggestions about how it helps the reader understand your message, as well as making it so they know what to read and how to read it, but we had to really focus our conversation in on HOW to do that.  Many 2nd grade writers still talk a good editing game, but don’t always show that knowledge in their actual final drafts.  We’ll continue to work on that next week as we finalize our published texts.


What did you work on as a writer this week?  What do you think of our warm-ups?  How would you have answered them?

Writing Lately

Elementary school is an interesting thing.  Because of the way that school has been structured for years and years, we teach and learn all the subjects together in one day, yet each one is compartmentalized into it’s only little spot in the schedule.  Well that’s how it’s traditionally done, but I try my hardest to help my kiddos see that “writing” is not just something we do from 10:30 to 11:15 every day, just like “reading” doesn’t only happen from 9:00-10:30.  These are just things that we do as learners and they are ways we learn and show our learning.

That being said…we do have specific things that we do as writers on most school days.  One of those is write.  During Writers’ Workshop.  (I know, I told you it was interesting).  I wanted to share two things that we’ve done lately that help show our growth as writers over time.

First of all was a writing challenge.  I love how when I told my kiddos that we were going to have a writing challenge they pretty much all cheered.  I don’t know if it was the “writing” part or the “challenge” part, but either way I was pleased.  The challenge was to take a piece of writing they had done at the being of our last writing cycle (Small Moments) and work to improve it to show the things they had learned over the last few weeks that they didn’t know before.  They would revise and edit their piece and then publish a final draft.  They worked with a writing partner (which is also something we typically do as writers in our room) to help make sure they didn’t miss anything.  They sure worked hard and their final pieces turned out pretty great!

Secondly, remember how I shared that everybody has their “big” notebook now?  It means I finally got to share the lesson about how to take all those super smart entries they wrote while they were learning about Writers’ Notebooks and save some of them. Basically they had to ask reread the entries in their tiny notebooks, and then ask themselves if they were: 1) important, 2) something that showed what they can do as a writer, 3) something they could use in the future, or 4) something they wanted to remember.  If the answer was YES to any or all of those, then they taped it into their big notebook to save for later.  It was great to see their reflecting and thinking as they evaluated their writing over the last few months.  Great stuff happening there, too!

Another (Writing) Celebration!

I’ve written before about how we use the Writing Cycle in our classroom, and how important celebrating our work is once we’re all finished.

Recently we had another one–this time with Expository Nonfiction Writing that we had done!

Our nonfiction pieces were all based on the structure of introduction, 3 paragraphs on specific topics, and conclusion.  They were written in many different forms, but all followed that same structure.

Our nonfiction pieces were all based on the structure of introduction, 3 paragraphs on specific topics, and conclusion. They were written in many different forms, but all followed that same structure.  Rebekah’s final piece was handwritten on paper.

Many students wrote their essays as feature articles using Pages templates.  All they had to do was replace what was there with their info and voila!

Many students wrote their essays as feature articles using Pages templates. All they had to do was replace what was there with their info and voila! I was impressed with the variety of topics: Sophia wrote about Artemis, Anna C. wrote a piece about tennis player Althea Gibson, ZB202 wrote about poodles and Natalie wrote about the evolution of the telephone.


Some essays were made with a flier template, and Keelan wrote his as a brochure.


Here’s a great picture of the different end products: Anna K. used Pages to write about Greek Mythology, Devan made a poster that was SHAPED like his topic of tops, and Sammy made a poster about mythology, too.

Some posters were small, like Jernandra's about lions...

Some posters were small, like Jernandra’s about lions, Don’s about bulldogs,


and Aiden’s about diamonds…

...and some were big, like Seamus' about Paul Revere,

…and some were big, like Seamus’ about Paul Revere,

Owen's about Gravity Master Isaac Newton,

Owen’s about Gravity Master Isaac Newton,

and Fiona's about Queen Elizabeth II.

and Fiona’s about Queen Elizabeth II.


And thee were even some Keynotes created about nonfiction topics, like Ames’ slide show about fossils,


and Peter’s about Ray Lewis. What a great example of how we can all accomplish the same thing in whatever way makes sense to us!

What do you do to celebrate your writing?  How do you “send your writing out into the world?” Tell us what you think!





Fiction Frenzy!

We have been busy over the last week collecting new ideas in our notebooks as we start a fiction writing unit.  As with every unit I teach, there are specific strategies that I teach about how to collect for that genre; the idea is that these can then be used over and over again once you know how they work.

Together throughout the week we read several books together, then looked at an idea we could pull out of that book to use in our writing.  First we read The Wreck of the Zephyr by Chris Van Allsburg and talked about how to meld real and imaginary events into the same story.  Then we read Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street by Roni Schotter, and talked about how to collect “interesting people” to use as characters.  We also tried a strategy that Eva, the girl in the story, uses when she asks “What if?” and then twists the story in an interesting way.  On Thursday we read Moira’s Birthday by Robert Munsch, and brainstormed “messy situations” that we could use in our stories to add interest, conflict and fun.  Lastly, we tried something that I knew my writers had probably never done, and that I knew they’d love.  And they did.  🙂

Let me tell you about it.

The big idea was that kiddos were given pictures from which to get inspiration for a story.  The strategy was a lot like something we did at the beginning when we first started our Writer’s Notebooks.  The first time around, though, the pictures were from magazines, and this time they were from my iPhoto albums.  Yep,  pictures of my kiddos–I knew my school kiddos would be excited about this one and give it their all.  They really love anything related to my family, which I love, too.

We rotated pictures around the room, two at a time, and kids brainstormed ideas for stories that they could write.  Each time they got a new picture, they could then start a new idea, or add on to the one they were already writing.  Here are the pictures we used for inspiration:


The activity was really fun, and I am pretty sure that many of these ideas will become the seeds they’ll choose to publish.  Be sure also see the posts about it on our blogs.  Maybe you could even try it yourself.  What stories would you come up with from these pictures? Comment and tell us about it!  We’d love to use your stories as inspiration, too! 🙂

No One Died Today!

But boy, I’m sure some of them were worried about it.

Yes, of course, I’m kidding!  Let me tell you about what I mean. 🙂

I wrote yesterday about the writing cycle and our recent celebration.  Well, if you remember the way the cycle works, after you celebrate, you start over again with a new project.  In this case, we’re working on Personal Narratives.  We spent a couple of weeks collecting memories and other stories in our Writer’s Notebooks and then picked a seed and nurtured it with some help from our writing partners, and then today we were ready to draft.

Here’s the basic directions about drafting in our classroom:

Now, the first time through the cycle we didn’t do it exactly this way, and maybe I even let them just use the version that was collected in their notebooks.  But this time I made them do it “right.”  At least my right way.  And that’s when they thought they would all die….

I started our mini-lesson with a reminder about how I wanted them to draft, and then showed them how to do it with the seed I had chosen.  It was based on this entry from one of my Writer’s Notebooks:

So, as they watched and listened, I read, then reread my piece to get the big idea of how I’d written it in my head.  The second time I also paid attention to the parts I really liked and knew I wanted to include in my draft.  We talked about how those were parts that we read and said to ourselves: “Man, that’s good…”  Those are the highlighted parts.  Then I read it again, and had most of what I wanted to say ready to write down.

And that’s when it got scary.  Now, I’ve told my kids that I wouldn’t ask them to do anything I haven’t done or wouldn’t be willing to do myself.  And writing is an especially good example of this idea.  I always go through the cycles with them; we write together and make mistakes together and grow together.  So today, that meant that we would draft together.

We sat in front of our ActivBoard, and I was ready to write my story using the document camera so they could see it.  And I’m not kidding when I say that I TOTALLY understood the feeling that kids get when you ask them to do things like this for the first time.  I really didn’t know what I was going to write and I had an audience waiting for me to write something fabulous!  Luckily, my kids understand how to be gracious and go-with-the-flow with me, and so they supported me through this struggle.

After what seemed like forever, I had a rough-draft version of my piece.  And just like I told them might happen, I think I liked most of the new version better:

And so after we reviewed the steps: read, reread and highlight the “Man, that’s good…” parts, reread and then start writing, I sent them off.  DON’T EXPECT THIS TO BE PERFECT, I tell them, because we’re going to work on revising it anyway.  Give yourself a break and just write your story. 🙂  But still, there were so many frightened faces in the bunch; I really did think someone was going to throw up over these directions I had just given them.

I think, though, because they trust me and they trust the process–no matter how different or crazy it seems at first–they did what I asked.  The next thing I saw were kiddos all over the room drafting in a way they never had before, and not dying.  They really were able to do it, and it wasn’t as hard as they thought it would be.  But even it if was, that was ok.  “Hard is good!” is another saying I have, because, as we have also talked about many times before, “hard” is an opportunity to learn and to do things that amaze you.

Maybe the two best things that came out of today were this:  one friend came to me and told me that even though this was hard, she was glad that she’d done it–the version she wrote today was even better than what she thought she could do; and another friend–who usually has trouble finishing a draft quickly, and who was a little unsure about this process when we got started today–finished his whole rough draft, and was able to do it in a fabulous way! I even got chills when I read a line from his piece because it was that good!

Today was another example of many that I hope I teach my friends this year: just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.  Hard is good, and many times when you persevere through something you first think is a challenge, you are amazed at what you’re able to do.  And that amazement motivates you to keep going and do something amazing again! 🙂

What have you done recently that amazed you?  How have you persevered through something hard? Do you have a writing story to share with us?  We’d love for you to share your thoughts!