What is W & SC?
Writing and Sharing Connections is a teaching and learning methodology for the elementary classroom that:
- reinforces curriculum with most any classroom approach.
- exposes students to excellent content area literature that supports curriculum and promotes the enjoyment of reading.
- develops writers and the enjoyment of writing by nurturing creativity and content first, formatics and mechanics later.
- makes every student a contributor to the class regardless of level of proficiency (special ed, gifted, etc.). Every student’s voice is heard in each Connections session.
- yields valuable assessment documents that are easy to gather and maintain.
- lifts thinking to the metacognitive level.
- introduces note taking.
- satisfies (and exceeds) current local, state and national standards.
Writing and Sharing Connections involves these items and practices
I. The Student Driven Timeline
Begun on the first day of school, the timeline builds to become a major focal point of the classroom as it displays entries for every person and
event studied, every book read by/to the class, and all new material taught/learned in the classroom that can have a date associated with it. Students and teacher decide together what entries to add to the timeline. Students do artwork (personalization) on each timeline entry. The timeline serves as a graphic organizer for new information, an ever-present review of all learning, and a point of pride for the students. The value of the timeline is greatly enhanced with methodology that invites/encourages students to put the information it contains to use…….
II. Writing and Sharing Connections Sessions
Occurring at least weekly, the teacher reads a literature selection to the class. This is usually a content-related picture book but may at
times be a chapter book, selection from a textbook, even a selection from a basal reader. (We provide recommended book lists for each grade level as well as suggested picture books by subject. Just click on BOOKS at left.) Students respond to this literature by answering the question “What did this book remind you of?”. Writing is done on post-its. Students read their responses (connections) aloud so that all students benefit from their thinking. Post-its are displayed on a flip chart and are assigned a category according to content.
Students usually begin by connecting read-aloud literature to personal memories, media(tv/movies), family and friends. As the year progresses,
students begin to voluntarily connect content related literature to entries on the timeline, thus reinforcing learning. As students develop as “connection writers”, the teacher coaches them to explain WHY they make each connection, thereby revealing further understanding of what they are learning in class.
Connections sessions are done in a no-stress classroom community environment. There are no wrong answers. Connections are NEVER graded. Students relax and realize that what they think and write is important. They begin to look forward to Connections sessions. Teachers can then begin to use Connections to carefully coach students in writing style, content and mechanics. The accumulation of these writing samples (connections) leads to an exercise that challenges students to think metacognitively…..
III. Graphing and Metacognitive Writing
At least twice each year, students review all of the connections they have written and graph the according to category. As they review past connections, students realize how simple their early connections were. Later connections, to other books (intertextual/curriculum) and to timeline items (curriculum), become points of pride in their self evaluation. Students write a “metacognitive piece”, a paragraph analyzing their progress as connection writers (thinking about their thinking) and setting goals for future connections.