PTI
PTI Curriculum Units Events FAQ Contact Links
IMGALTTAG
IMGALTTAG Volume VI: Writing: Its Role in Literacy K-8 Rendering the Visible in Writing


Building a Community of Learners:  How Speaking and Listening Support Writing
Jacie Bejster
Fort Pitt Elementary School

Imagine a classroom where young children work together talking and sharing, encouraging and supporting each other’s endeavors in literacy. Just picture small groups of busy students sitting together on the carpet discussing a book they’ve just read. This unit will provide teachers with the beginning tools needed to achieve this. The unit will deepen the connections between speaking and listening and the existing language arts curriculum in order to provide a more balanced program. The unit will provide information about the connections between reading, writing, speaking and listening. It will give teachers ideas for integrating more activities around speaking and listening with the intent to build classroom community and improve student writing.


Click here to view complete unit.

IMGALTAG

The Write Way through Literature
Blanche Bennett
Friendship Elementary School

The purpose of this unit is to provide students the techniques and strategies for writing through modeling and exposure to a variety of authors. Through distinct modeling and guidance by the teacher, students will be encouraged to develop and try the various writing styles and techniques of the authors to which the teacher exposes them. Exposure for the students will occur through listening to stories read by the teacher of selected authors. The students will be given the opportunity to hear, reflect on, and imitate the writing styles of these authors as well as develop their own. Teachers may use any of the selections by the suggested authors or choose their own.

This unit was written to be taught for a five week period over the summer. It can, however, be taught at any time during the school year and the time line can be extended or shortened depending on the grade level and the teacher’s purpose. It can also be adapted to accommodate any grade level.


Click here to view complete unit.

IMGALTAG

A Reading—Writing Connection For First Grade
Nancy W. Bryant
Roosevelt Elementary School 

This unit is designed to illustrate to teachers how they can encourage students to think about writing and the writer and they learn to read and write themselves. Through reading and discussing good children’s literature, the author’s craft can be explored with first graders. As children become familiar with thinking about the reading—writing connection they can explore language expression as they write their own texts.


Click here to view complete unit.

IMGALTAG

The Write Time—A Three-Fold Approach to Supporting Growth in Writing
Cheryl DeSure
Fulton Academy

As the name suggests, it’s more and more difficult to find the “right” time to teach writing. Unlike the other subjects a self-contained second grade instructor teaches, there is not a set uniform curriculum to explicitly and systematically teach writing. It can be frustrating for teachers because although we have high expectations for our students, we continually search for better ways to help our students meet those expectations. It’s not just enough to know what to expect; we need to set the tiny measurable goals that lead to those ultimate expectations. Knowing that is one thing, finding the time in an already busy day is another.

If you have been searching for ways to help your students meet your writing expectations, then you may want to consider some of the guided and modeled writing exercises. They are offered as a means of providing explicit, systematic lessons to teach writing. If you are also struggling with the issue of time and the importance of writing in the second grade curriculum, then this unit is for you. The purpose of this curriculum is to change how our students perceive writing, either as a punishment or something they have to do ever so often to fill up a portfolio. The goal is to increase the importance of writing, make it a daily occurrence and empower our students through writing. By using the literature and materials that the district has in place, and using them as teaching tools, we can more effectively use our time by forming connections.  This will allow us to improve the quality of written response to literature, while at the same time allow our students to see themselves as writers with their own stories to tell.


Click here to view complete unit.

IMGALTAG

Developing Character Through Writing
Maureen Ellis
Mifflin Elementary School

What is more important in our society than developing good character? For this project I am going to develop a unit that integrates our character education program and our Harcourt Reading Curriculum in the first grade. By developing one of the monthly traits, “Lend A Hand,” with the stories we are reading in our basal reader at the time, I hope to give the children many writing opportunities to express themselves. I plan to do this in a writing workshop style using many of the basic elements that are proposed by Lucy Calkins. She states that writing matters most when it is personal and when it grows out of purpose in one’s own life. By reflecting on their own lives the students will be able to express how they lend a hand, how they don’t but should, and how this simple trait affects other people’s lives each day.

By developing the theme I will have the children complete writings that will address the Pittsburgh Public Schools Standards and be suitable for portfolio entrees. These writings will take various forms from journal writing, list making, personal narratives, and critical thinking essays about the authors’ motives. Hopefully this unit can be a model that can be used to develop the other monthly character traits with the reading curriculum throughout the year.


Click here to view complete unit.

IMGALTAG

The POWER of Story in Building Character and Community
Tawnya Ford 

This unit uses the Eight Habits of the Heart by Clifton Taulbert as a guide for teaching students character traits through writing activities. It will allow for students to explore some of the traits through characters in the Harcourt curriculum and other children’s stories. The 5th grade Harcourt curriculum is used, but the unit can very well be adapted for any grade level to bring character and community into the classroom. Allow the POWER to start in your classroom and overflow into the school, home, and surrounding community.


Click here to view complete unit.

IMGALTAG

Young Scribes
Stephanie Johnson
Clayton Elementary School 

This curriculum is about writing and enjoying it. It is written for an early childhood classroom but can be adapted to intermediate elementary grade levels. The Scribes as they are called, are kindergarten students whose activities will aid in teaching writing and often will be making a connection with literature. The students also become aware of writing through exploring their own experiences. These experiences give them ownership, hopefully producing a love for writing. The writing process is explained and given an opportunity to be explored in each lesson. The students also will do illustrations. These illustrations will be used to prompt writing. Some of the portfolio requirements have been included. The time frame for this unit will be at least a three-month block of time during the later half of the school year. You will find this unit to be fun and creative.


Click here to view complete unit.

IMGALTAG

Building Community in a Kindergarten Classroom
Carrie Lee Lehman
Fort Pitt Elementary School

If you are responsible for teaching literacy in a kindergarten classroom and want to incorporate more writing, this curriculum is for you. We are living in a time when there is so much to teach and so few “teachable moments.” Every minute is valuable and how we spend time with our students is critical. We know the end result we’re looking for, but often feel puzzled by how to get there, so we rely on our “old ways” of teaching and are faced with the question: “Am I really doing enough?”  Some of us have been teaching the same way for many, many years. But sometimes our teaching needs new life breathed into it.  Sometimes we need to be inspired. It is my intention to inspire you. But, I realize that that is not enough. Our inspiration comes and goes, and can easily wane and be diminished because we don’t know what to do with it. If you know the product you’re looking for, but can’t figure out the process, read on.

My curriculum will take a primary teacher step-by-step through a literacy block. The literacy block will include a morning meeting, and a reader’s and writer’s workshop. We will discuss how time should be spent, what your space should look like, what kids should be doing, and the product we should expect to see. The daily activities of this curriculum are geared specifically for the youngest of readers and writers – kindergartners, but can be adapted or extended to sustain the development of students in all primary grades. This curriculum will meet the needs of all of your students from the below-basic achiever to the advanced student because students work on their own instructional level. Classmates will become a part of a community that shares its work and rejoices in its achievement of literacy.


Click here to view complete unit.

IMGALTAG

Writing and Critique: A Reflective Approach to Art
Victoria Scoumis-Mahramus
David B. Oliver High School

The purpose of this curriculum is to combine the Communication Standards for writing with the Art Standard of Critical Response in order to make writing an integral part of high school art education. My goal is to make writing about art a desirable yet simplified task for students who would normally question the validity of writing in an art class. Strategies are described to foster a writing environment in an art course while treating writing as a creative art form.

This unit tells the story of how a writing curriculum unfolded with the help from my students as I researched the most effective way to encourage students to write a descriptive analysis about a famous painting, on work by classmates, and their own visual work. A disciplined-based art education is the desired result.


Click here to view complete unit.

IMGALTAG

Sharing the Writing Experience…A School and Home Bond
Marie E. Shortt
Sheraden Elementary

The purpose of this unit is to use children’s desire to share their world with their teacher and peers while guiding their communication from verbal to written. While keeping the excitement of the childhood world outlook, the students will gradually be exposed to the components of writing. The unit will provide explanation, exploration and encouragement to emerging writers. The school home connection will make a natural habit of journal writing to document life’s adventures and feelings while growth in writing as communication unfolds.


Click here to view complete unit.

IMGALTAG

Helping Children See Themselves as Writers and Critics
By Jackie Trevisan
Fort Pitt Elementary 

“I HATE WRITING!” If you hear this phrase from any of your students, you need to read this unit. The inner-city students I teach have many stories inside of them. However, very few ever get written down on paper. They also come to school with many issues everyday. We, as teachers, cannot solve all their problems, but we can allow them to write about them in order to sort out their thoughts and feelings. Take it from a person who hated to write growing up, writing can be very healing when you are dealing with a difficult situation. In order for students to be able to write about these issues, they need to feel safe and protected.

This curriculum will first aid you in setting up a safe place for your students to write. This will be done by setting up a writing community in which all students and adults in the classroom struggle through the writing process together. This will be done during a daily writer’s workshop. The second part of the unit will focus on getting the children to be able to see revision as a helpful tool to improve their writing. In order to accomplish this, the teacher will need to share their own ideas and writings with the children. Students will need to be able to see themselves as writers and see that everyone has a story to tell. The students will also be able to critique literature, their peers’ work, as well as their own writing, in order to become better writers. This unit was originally designed for the intermediate grades (4-5), but can be modified (either to the primary grades or up to middle and high school) by adjusting some of the literature you use and deciding how detailed the teacher chooses to go into revision.


Click here to view complete unit.

IMGALTAG

Images of Me:  Literacy through the Exploration of Self
Emily P. Wilson
Schenley High School

This curriculum unit is designed as a whole-year writing plan. The plan is designed to create a classroom writing community in which the students will produce works both original and directed based on the Pittsburgh Public Schools English curriculum. The infusion of this year-long writing curriculum into the current English curriculum aims at aiding students’ reading and writing ability, which in turn translates into greater performance on the state and city mandated tests. However, this is just a superficial, although needed, end result. The very real positive benefit of this idea is that all students will feel more confident and natural when reading and writing. They will possess the ability and skills needed to read and interpret all types of writing, to prepare for and draft even the hardest composition required of them for school and beyond. Students will no longer feel bored or incapable of reading chosen pieces or frustrated, nervous, and unable to write something of their own.

The unit has two components that work together to achieve the desired goals. The first is based on the content requirements as stated by the school district. Students will increase literacy through reading, writing and mechanics. While some days will be designated writing days, students will spend time both in and out of the class on reading selections from the text. Additionally, to aid in both reading comprehension and writing skills, mini-lessons on mechanics will be given to work in conjunction with writing and the literature studied.

Outside of the content taught throughout the school year, the other facet of the unit is the establishment of a writing workshop-style classroom setting. The workshop, although it can be molded to fit each individual teacher’s preference, will provide a very structured environment in which the students will work. Students will be aware of the daily or weekly schedule as well as the classroom procedures and materials to guide them through the writing workshop process.


Click here to view complete unit.

IMGALTAG

Chatham University
IMGALTTAG
IMGALTTAG
IMGALTTAG Pittsburgh Teachers Institute
Jointly sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University and the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
IMGALTTAG
IMGALTTAG