Writing can be one of the most difficult areas to teach. Some of the common issues teachers face when it comes to teaching writing in 2nd grade are:
Sound about right? Thankfully our team has put major effort into helping teachers with these issues. This post will show how Writing Centers for 2nd Grade are the solution for the common writing problems you’re faced with each year! Get ready to increase writing output, writing engagement and differentiate practice this year with our writing centers. Bonus: say goodbye to feeling frustrated with teaching writing! Read on!
Challenge 1: Students get bored with free writing during independent writing time.
A teacher spends two entire writer’s workshop lessons having students decorate their writing notebooks. Then, they spend another day creating a list of “what to write about” on the inside cover. They feel like their students are set up for writing success and picture the long and meaningful journal entries their students will come up with each day. This is the dream isn’t it?! But that is just what it is, a dream. In reality, students’ interest in their free writing journals wanes quickly. (There are exceptions of course.)
Solution: Give students a variety of writing center activities.
Lucky Little Learner’s 2nd grade writing centers have over 20 activities. This allows the teacher to give students variety! One day students could work on characters, the next day dialogue or have students do the editing center. To build on this variety, here is a routine idea when introducing a new writing skill. Note: this routine would be most successful after a whole group lesson on the skill.
For this example routine, we will use the skill Fact vs. Opinion.
Day 1: A whole group lesson on what fact and opinions are. An engagement idea is to write out several facts and opinions on slips of paper. Have each student take a slip of paper and read it to the class. The class decides if it is a fact or opinion. (Or do this with sticky notes, and they can stick it up in the correct column on the whiteboard.)
Day 2: Model the Fact or Opinion Cookie Jar center using the digital version to project it to the class.
Day 3: Students complete the station independently allowing you to confer with other students on writing progress.
Day 4: Transition from this station to writing facts and opinions in their journals. These could be a prompt on the board like: “What is the best season? Give three reasons why.”
Day 5: Finally, transition to free writing in their journal, encouraging them to share a fact they know with you (about anything) or to share a strong opinion they have with you.
A routine like the one above will get students more confident using writing skills in their free writing AND having better writing stamina.
Problem 2: There’s not enough time in the schedule for targeted writing instruction.
A school day has a packed schedule. It is so hard to fit in all the things. Writer’s Workshop is something that often gets pushed aside, many times unavoidably. If this is the case for you, here is an idea.
Solution: Alternate lesson days with writing center review days.
If writer’s workshop cannot be taught daily in your classroom, no worries! Try to stick to only introducing a new skill/center on the days you can have workshop. Then, the writing centers will serve as a review day for this skill! So, even though you are not able to teach daily, students are working on skills daily.
So, introduce a skill on writer’s workshop day, and have them work independently on that skill until you can introduce a new skill. Any writing practice is good practice!
Problem 3: It’s hard to differentiate independent writing activities.
All students come into our classrooms in the fall with different life experiences as well as different academic levels and writing confidence. This makes it oh so hard to provide each student with writing practice at their level. But, believe it or not, I think our 2nd Grade Writing Centers can solve this problem too!
Solution: Reduce the number of steps in center activities to meet the needs of students.
Each writing center is meant to be done independently AND most have several prompts/pieces so can be done in a variety of combinations. We are going to dive into what this means using the “How to Writing: Forest Friends” center as an example.
Ways to differentiate this center:
For lower writers: Writers that needs the most prompts to get started can use the picture cards, put them in order, and simply write out what steps the pictures show.
Each writing center can be differentiated in creative ways to best suit the needs of your writers.
Problem 4: Kids get off task during independent writing time.
Keeping students engaged, working on meaningful tasks and learning from it is a top priority. This not only allows them to grow, but it also allows teachers to meet with students independently to give them that much needed one-on-one interaction and teaching. If the rest of the class is not engaged in their independent work, the teacher will have to interrupt their small group to deal with behavior management. How can Lucky Little Learners writing centers help with this issue?
Solution: Writing centers are completely fun and engaging!
All of our centers are cerated with students in mind. They are full of kid friendly fonts and readability, eye-catching graphics and engaging tasks. To see this in action, let’s take a closer look at the “Inquiry writing: Dinosaur Expedition” center.
Dinosaur Expedition is extra fun because it incorporates QR codes that link to articles and videos. Students love independently researching (when it has been taught and modeled first) and this center will allow them to do just that! This center can be spread throughout several days, giving students a question of the day to write about!
Problem 5: Many students are not excited about writing.
You have read all of these ideas but you STILL have students who just can’t get into writing. I have an idea for this too!
Solution: Set realistic goals for writing centers and boost confidence.
Reluctant writers, just like reluctant readers, need to see and feel success to be motivated to work harder. They need to see what amazing things they are capable of! So, how can you motivate these writers? Set goals! Sit down with these writers one by one and preselect which prompt they will work on during center time. This takes away their stress of choosing what to write about. Then, take whatever paper they will be writing on and, using a highlighter, draw a line across the paper where you want their writing to reach. Keep it a small amount at first. They will be ecstatic when they reach that line! Slowly, over time, the line will get lower and lower on the paper.
Problem 6: You don’t have a writing curriculum to make sure standards are covered.
School funding is lacking these days. (But you already know that.) Because of this, many schools have had to do away with some curriculum purchases, often writing. Even though most reading curriculums include a writing component, a lot of teachers find this moves WAY too fast for their students. Check out how you can use writing centers as a framework to create your OWN writing curriculum!
Solution: Practice each writing standard with writing center activities.
Using a consistent routine for teaching writing will best help cement skills. No curriculum? No worries! Try the routine mentioned at the beginning of this post with our 2nd grade writing centers to create your own curriculum.
Day 1: Teach the skill whole group
Day 2: Model the center
Day 3: Students complete the centers independently.
Day 4: Give prompts to students that will get them writing using the new skill.
Day 5: Have students complete an independent “assessment” of the new skill. This could be asking them to free write using the skill, editing a writing sample or a regular quiz (for fact or opinion for example).
With over 20 skills to work on, you will be covered for writer’s workshop lessons for a majority of the year! The writing centers for 2nd grade have the following skills included: