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Hillside Elementary School Students Create Narratives from Their Own Memories

Hillside Elementary School second grader Mateo B. works on his personal narrative.Watch out publishers! Second Graders at Hillside Elementary School are working on their writing skills.

Second graders at Hillside Elementary School are creating narratives from their own memories thanks to writing workshop. The workshop unit calls for students to write one scene based on a special moment in their lives, using details to sharpen their storytelling skills.

“Writing is so much fun because you get to share your ideas with others,” said Harlow N. “I love writing about my memory of Legoland!” said Mateo B.

In Michelle Campbell and Dana Finsmith’s classroom, students were happy to start writing for the year with an assignment that tapped into their personal interests and helped stretch their creativity.

“It kicks off our year in a fun way,” said Finsmith. “They get to craft stories inspired by their own lives.”

Campbell and Finsmith said that writing exercises like this not only strengthen student writing skills but also lay the foundation for success in the future.

“The year is filled with many hands-on activities and learning routines,” Finsmith said. “Our students get introduced to a variety of tools that they can add to their writer’s toolbox to ensure they succeed in writing throughout the year.”

A member of the Hillside Elementary School English Language Arts Committee for the past two years, Finsmith said the writing workshop model offers many advantages to young authors.

The writing workshop model helps teachers address each child’s individual learning, tap into the power of a learning community, teach strategies that students will use throughout their lives and allow for student choice.

“We’ve been working to create learning progressions across all grades,” she said. “It helps us establish the criteria for success and identify our students’ strengths as well as identifying where we can push them.”

In a writing workshop, Finsmith said students receive explicit instruction in a specific writing skill first. Then, they work in partnerships and practice what they have learned with one another.

Finally, students take what they have learned and apply it to their own piece of writing.

“The writing workshop model is fantastic,” she said. “It is a gradual release and it helps them expand their writing.”