Sharing writing with others can be a great experience for some students, but for others, it can be truly intimidating! Using Valentine shaped writing prompts, a bit of fun and humor helped us successfully segue into writing partnerships which offered a place for our students to learn about positive/negative feedback and trust.
First, the connection! Using a student led rap, students were chosen to name content specific vocabulary that has been learned throughout the year such as: narrative writing, topic sentence, thesis, supports, conclusion and reread.
Next, the symbol of a “heart” was written on the board and students brainstormed meaning. Answers ranged from love, to hearts beating, to friendship, to candy, etc.
Then, to actively engage the students, hearts with writing prompts were taped under each student chair (as in the above picture). They were given reminders to use what we have learned in writing (begin with the statement you were given, write and response, use supports). A timer was set for 10 minutes and students began writing in response to the prompt.
Then, students were called back to the large group where an anchor chart had been prepared to discuss the purpose of partnerships. We talked about the word relationship and the importance of working together, listening well and sharing information that can be difficult to say. We spoke of kindness and respect.
After that, a mock writing partnership was modeled between the cooperating teacher and myself using the same Valentine prompts. We modeled saying one encouraging word and something to work on.
Last, students were given time to practice a partnership by finding another person in the room that had the same writing prompt that they had. Students had no idea who they would be paired with, and teachers did not plan particular writing partners. This activity allowed natural movement in the classroom and lots of smiles as they were often surprised by the partnership!
Students spent 5 minutes reading to one another, sharing a kind word and a word to push the writing forwards. They returned to seats, completed a quick rewrite, decorated a heart and hung their work on the classroom door for the party.
It was a great way to explain that relationships come in all shapes and sizes. As we learn and grow, working and writing relationships become important. This was a small step towards gaining trust and taking risks as writers and a nice way to segue into writing partnerships on Valentine’s Day!