Getting More Writing In!

I have a lot of thoughts on teaching writing. I love to read a great mentor text and lead my students through a shared writing experience. I know the importance of teaching my students the entire writing process, and I do teach it. I also know that the schedule of most teachers' classrooms doesn't always allow for this leisurely pace of writing instruction on a daily basis. I've also seen that many teachers struggle with teaching the writing process at all. If you are not comfortable writing, if you do not consider yourself a writer, how can you teach others to become writers? Writing is an art form and great writing and real authors are not born out of scripted writing programs or formulaic structures. But yet, that's exactly what we're expected to do.

Most schools probably have some type of writing curriculum in place or some outline that teachers are expected to follow. You may or may not agree with it. You might love it. You might hate it. But unless your kids are actively writing and being exposed to MANY different forms of writing beyond expository and narrative, the budding authors in your class will probably not blossom they way they otherwise might.

So to bolster my other direct writing instruction, I've been using printable writing journals with my students. They actually started out as monthly task cards that I would put out at the writing center. 

The topics were fun and varied, and the kids seemed to enjoy them, but the results always left a little to be desired. If the task was to create a venn diagram, write a letter, or design a poster, they would spend so much time working on the layout that little time or effort was left for the actual writing task.

For a while, I had the idea to make printables of each task card to leave at the center. Then when I thought about the copying and management, I decided against it. Then back in December, I decided to make them into little printable books that my kids would keep and write in each month. Perfect solution!

At first, I was having the kids work on them independently as part of Work on Writing for the Daily Five and the results were better, but I knew they could still be improved.  

So now instead of just letting the kids loose to write in the journals we're taking a different approach and the results have been amazing! 

Now we take about 10 minutes each day to read a topic together and discuss the real objective of the activity - which may be writing a good list, completing a graphic organizer to compare, do a little research, write a story, share an opinion, or reflect on a topic to name a few.  Then sometimes I model one way to start the piece or ask students to share how they might start. We then turn and talk to our table partners to gather some more ideas, then we write. Since these activities are all on half pages, the kids are a lot less intimidated to get busy. I swear, seeing a whole blank page really stops some writers right in their tracks. They get stymied just wondering how they will find enough words to fill up that whole giant page. Now, that pressure is removed and along with the discussion and modeling, even my most reluctant writers are making awesome progress! 

They loved writing the story about how a leprechaun would trick a teacher. Some were so inspired they needed more room to write, so we used a large sticky note. And this is from kids who used to count lines on the paper and freak out thinking about how they would fill them all!

When we miss a day of writing, I have kids asking for it. Now that has never happened to me before. They get excited when I tell them we're going to work in our journals. Just knowing that I'm taking away the writing anxiety that some of my kids had and bring a love of writing to some others makes this all worth it.

Another plus is that parents now get to see the writing their kids are doing in class. Previously, I would keep all of our writing in our writer's notebooks which only went home at the end of the year. I send these booklets home at the end of every month. 

Each set comes with 24 seasonal topic cards.  The printable journals have two topics on each page. I choose about 6-8 pages and staple them into a little booklet with a long reach stapler. Sometimes I collect the journals during the month and read through them, sometimes I wait until the end of the month since I hear them share and I read as they're writing most of the time. But I always respond to their writing with a short note on the reflection page. The reflection page was a real learning experience. They really didn't know what to do! I had some of them answering the questions just like general life questions. For "The piece I'm most proud of" I had one kid write about not fighting with his brother... we're on track now though.

I've made the journals from December through April, with May really close to completion. If you've previously purchased any of the cards, just re-download them to get the new version which includes the journals. I'll be adding the journals to the bundles when they are all finished, but if you buy the bundle, I'm happy to send you the printable journals directly - just email me with your tpt user name.

Just in case you're considering purchasing them for your class here are some links:

Bundle 1 which includes Back to School, October, November, December, and January
Bundle 2 which includes February, March, April, May, and June


  1. These look wonderful ! I am wondering if you would ever consider making a set geared more for first graders? I would buy the entire set and know many others that would also!
    Thanks, Sandy

  2. So glad you've made these into writing journals -- I bought the cards initially, but haven't been able to use them as a center -- my room is just too small. :( I think the kids will love this new format! :) Your cute graphics make the work seem so much more like "fun pages" for them -- thanks for the little extras!

  3. These look great!! I'm looking forward to using them with my class. Thanks for all your hard work!


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