You will constantly see the writing of our brilliant students hanging proudly on the walls of Twain. We love to share our stories and our knowledge! Our writing program draws upon teacher's knowledge of appropriate units of study and a nationally recognized writing program from the Lucy Calkins and The Teachers College at Columbia University. Opinion, Informational, and Narrative units are taught so that they build upon the previous year and set the foundation for the following year's work. Some of the major units are listed below; grade levels also collaborate to create additional units based on areas of need.
Opinion writing begins in kindergarten with students crafting letters and signs to address problems in their class, school, and world. First graders enjoy a unit called "Writing Reviews" in which students create interesting, convincing reviews about their favorite toys or books. In "Writing About Reading" second grade students write letters about characters, scenes, or whole books using examples from the text. Third graders practice opinion writing through "Changing the World"; students persuade people about causes they believe in while using evidence and persuasive techniques. In fourth grade, students are introduced to traditional essay formats using logical structures and carefully arranged ideas and evidence. They also are introduced to Literary Essays to share their thinking about complex texts. Fifth graders practice "The Research Based Argument Essay" to build powerful arguments that included evidence, analysis, and rebuttal of counter-claims.
Informational writing is a favorite for most students, as they love studying non-fiction texts and then writing like their favorite authors. In Kindergarten, students teach readers about topics they know well: their family and their playground. They also are introduced to How-To books. First graders love their unit "Nonfiction Chapter Books" where they combine pictures and domain-specific vocabulary to create engaging texts and presentations. In "Lab Reports and Science Books" second grade students write procedural texts, descriptions, and analysis about experiments, then use that to write science-based information books. Third graders return to writing chapter books about topics on which they are experts. In "Bringing History to Life" fourth grade writers utilize research skills to learn about a topic and then elaborate in their writing. Fifth graders write through historical lenses and from primary sources to create engaging historical reports.
Narrative writing engages students to write about real and imagined experiences through small moment vignettes and fictional chapter books to fairy tales and personal memoirs (well, a memoir of a ten year old!) Kindergarten teaches students to tell stories from their lives through drawing, labeling, and then adding words. First graders craft lots of small moment books, working on everything from conventions to organization and details. Second grade writers learn to study published texts to learn writing techniques to try in their own narratives. Third graders write personal narratives as well as a much-loved unit that allows them to study and write their own fairy tales. "The Arc of the Story" guides fourth graders to develop fictional characters with motivations and struggles. Fifth graders study and write personal narratives, paying close attention to the many craft techniques that authors use to convey their meaning.
At home, families can foster the love of writing first by reading and discussing great stories! Encourage writing in journals, diaries, thank you notes to relatives, a review about a movie just viewed, or an all-about book after a trip to the zoo. Show students that writing is a wonderful way to express our ideas and also a platform to share our thinking with others near and far.