Mme G.C. -Work in Progress

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Teaching Writing

Powwow Composing Think Aloud

Once the sentences are easy to read for the students , fluency is essential . Now we move to the composing think aloud. I have attached a power point of the way in which  I like to present my own writing to students. I find the visuals along with clicking through the power point a very effective model. Once I have modeled, we do a class paragraph together.

Powowcomposing think aloud

step 2

10 Steps of PWIM step 8

Step 1    Step 2   Step 3   Step 4    Step 5  Step 6   Step 7    Step 9  Step 10

8. Class generates, reads, classifies and improves sentence

Each student has the opportunity to contribute a descriptive sentence to the class set. The teacher is encouraged to elicit proper grammar and a variety of sentence starters. Writing each sentence in a different or alternating colour models that sentences vary in length and can be more than one line long. Some teachers like to write each sentence on an individual sentence strip while others prefer to write them all out on chart paper.


Give students plenty of opportunity to read the sentences as a group and alone. Choral reading in a variety of voices develops fluency and engagement by reading grade appropriate material in context. Students will naturally classify by structure and mechanics (Starts with The, They, # of words in the sentence, capitals,) but it is very important that they begin to categorize the sentences by content because these categories are necessary for generating good paragraphs.

Have students substitute a word in the sentence several times.

E.g. The elephant is walking on the grass.

The elephant is walking on the beach.

The elephant is walking on the cement.

 Ask them to illustrate their favourite one of the 3.

Have them share their illustration and sentences with a partner. The partner must figure out which of the 3 sentences was illustrated.

change a word.jpg


Create sentence cubes (I use a math black-line master) for the students to roll out different sentences, allowing them to play with sentences starters content and descriptions. The first block is a variety of sentence starters. The second block is nouns from the photo.The third block is linking verbs-is-are-was…) The fourth block is verbs ending in ing and the final verb is a location in the photo.

cubes (2).jpg

 Assessing sentences is essential in this step of the model. What do students know about sentences? Do they know the difference between letters/words/ sentences? What high frequency words are they incorporating into their PWIM sentences? Are sentences starting and ending in a variety of ways? How long are the sentences?


Use your sentences for running records and repetitive reading to build fluency and check accuracy.

running record.JPG







Descriptive Writing

Brian Wildsmith has a wonderfully descriptive passage about squirrels in his book Squirrels. I used to love using it as a mentor text springboard with children. Unfortunately the book is out of print. Link to a video reading of Squirrels which you can use if you cannot find the book. If you have suggestions for newer books with excellent descriptive passages please share them with me!

I like the passage because the author starts with “It is easy to recognize a squirrel…” which students can use to start their own paragraph about an animal of their choice.

I usually read the story and we discuss it and I list what the author did that we liked.

I then share my own descriptive writing starting with the same introduction about an animal they might not be aware of.

After I have read my model,we look at the list of attributes to see if I followed the structure of this experienced author. Next we  write a group piece but at this point some children are ready to write on their own. Once all students have written their paragraph we create a class book entitled-It Is Easy to Recognize a...

Mentor Text with What Neat Feet

This is a lesson shared with my team by Emily Calhoun. She used Hana Machotka’s What Neat Feet as a mentor text to help students write a descriptive text called Fascinating Faces Familiar Faces.

what neat 1.PNGWhat neat 2.PNGWhat neat 3.PNGwhat neat 4.PNGwhat neat final.PNG

Grade One Writing With Mentor Text

A grade one room I am working in, has some very struggling writers. We have noticed that we have to scaffold more and more for this small group.

The following process really helped them move forward.

We had been working on writing about animal body parts and trying to use descriptive writing. We realized our group didn’t even understand what the parts were. We had been modeling with the mentor text Horns  by Rebecca Rissman


We quickly realized that it was too hard for this small group. I went back to an old stand by-

I Like Hats. By Blair Drawson.

I Like hats

After reading the story , we talked about what the author did. I pointed out the repeating phrase I like… but pointed out that each ending was different. We talked about capitals and periods and how the author helped us to understand the story through repetition and art.

I showed the students how I tried to write about animals with humps just like we had been talking about in science. I ended my writing using a line from Horns which they found very funny-“Do you have horns? No, you do not!” became “”Do you have a hump? No, you do not!”

We read my writing several times. I then told them that I wanted them to write a similar piece but about animals with  hooves. We had to discuss hooves again. I was surprised to notice that in-spite of showing many photos of hooves the children thought birds had hooves and so did dogs. We looked at more pictures and books. We talked about how hooves helped animals. We made a mind map about hooves.Then we tried a very scaffolded piece. Here is some of their writing:

Next we moved onto the topic of animal tails. This was less scaffolded and they had to write a bit more.

Finally the children chose another animal body part. There was a great deal of laughter as they wrote and illustrated their pages. They shared their reading with each other.

Thank goodness for published authors who have great mentor text to help us with writing!!

Composing Think Aloud 1e

MIMI Picture Selection.pdf - Adobe Acrobat Pro

Les bisons1

Please follow my power point as I model step by step a composing think aloud for grade one/two French Immersion.  I used sentences which the students generated with the help of their teacher.The cloud bubbles are my thinking which I explained to the students. I showed the children how I combined sentences through colour coordination things that were the same. At the end of the model, each student illustrated the paragraph. That gave me an idea of how much detail they understooddrawing

Talk Aloud for Writing

A talk aloud for writing is when a teacher explicitly uses mentor text and the gradual release of responsibility, to help students understand how to improve their own writing.

taljk aloud for writing

Talk Aloud (for Comprehension)

A Talk aloud (for comprehension) is using mentor text to help you explain what published authors do and how text features or structures help you to better understand what you are reading. It is not as important to be able to name them, but being able to recognize the features and how they help the reader is crucial.Talk aloud

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Text Structures-Compare Contrast Writing

I’ve started trying to organize my work in a way that is a little faster for me to grab when I run out to schools.

For my work with comprehension text structures, I purchased some clear thick plastic envelopes. I labeled the envelopes according to the text structure materials I want to use.

In each folder,I have the requirements for text structures per grade as outlined by my province. I have a copy of the text structure anchor chart that I plan to create with the students , and I have a variety of books that are good mentor text for teaching the author’s craft.

These are some of my favourite texts that I use to teach Compare Contrast Writing:

poles apartall about frogs  Big cats  
cats vs dogs


After reading parts of the book to the students, it is always useful to co construct  a Venn Diagram for Compare Contrast Writing.elephants vs rhinosIt is also important to create an anchor chart with the necessary signal words for the text structure.

Compare and Contrast Signal Words

alike           also         as well as            both           but       different

in the same way        like         similar          still      too      unlike       while

Lesson plan using Gradual Release of Responsibility

Compare Contrast Writing

 Explain what structures are and why authors use them (reading/writing


 Talk about signal words-look for them in your reading and use them in your


 Mentor text :Share Jim Arnosky’s writing and what you like about it including

last sentence

 I use  Rhinos and elephants  for my model

We do: Ideas skating to hockey-cats to dogs-before treaty after treaty

 Do we do again

 You try!!

 Head into writing alone

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