Some Scaffolds to Help You Write

I am participating in #SOL17.   Tslice-of-life2hanks to the hardworking and incredible twowritingteachers blog team for
creating this community of writers. I have learned so much this month and hope to return and find all of you here on
Tuesdays.  This experience has been delightful and valuable.
This network of writers
is powerful!

When our student writers are getting ready to write, they may need some structures to help them plan their thinking.  It’s important to help them develop their ideas, the direction their piece will take, their chosen point of view. To do this, sketching, using graphic organizers, reading, and talking are great avenues for students of all ages to get ready to write. Hopefully, your students will arrive at the conclusion that writing = thinking. Let me revise. Writing = deep thinking.

Choosing a strategy or scaffold to help you plan a piece of writing often depends, in part, on the type of writing you will do – a narrative, an opinion piece, an informational piece, or a poem.  As students exam mentor texts, ask them to think about how the author organizes the piece of writing. Often, a longer text may have a global structure and many substructures to support it. Sometimes, a simple scaffold such as a repeating phrase  can be used to frame the entire text. For example, in Up North at the Cabin, Marsha Wilson Chall organizes her picture book by beginning each vignette about a summer  with grandparents with the beginning phrase, “Up north at the cabin….”

As students advance through elementary school, we discover structures such as compare-contrast, cause-effect, problem-solution, and time order.  Sometimes, students find a structure in a mentor text (the mentor text can be a student’s writing as well) that needs to be named so the community can talk about it and use it in future writing pieces. Post graphic organizers of structures in your writing center or make copies for the writer’s notebook. Here are a few scaffolds that may be useful to your students.  Try one of these structures and take a few moments to evaluate your success. Did the scaffold help you?  How so?  Share your thinking with a friend!

Structure CompareStructure MemoryStructure Story of thinkingStructure OnionStructure Made Up Story

12 thoughts on “Some Scaffolds to Help You Write

  1. You have shared some great information this month on teaching writing! I know I will return to reread and apply many of your suggestions. Thanks for all your comments Lynne.


  2. I thrive on structure but when teaching one of my pitfalls is not giving enough options when it comes to organizing writing. This is wonderful. I’m officially going to start a file called “Lynne’s Gems” to place what you have been sharing. Thank you so much!


  3. These scaffolds work so well for student writers and teachers! The Calkins units have many of them if you are interested .. . what she does so well is takes a scaffold and nudges it each year as students go through the grade levels. It is really magical to see in action! Have you ever used her units of study? They are great tools if used appropriately. Teachers will love the ones you have designed.


  4. I love these text structures, I first saw them in Gretchen Bernabei’s book “Crunchtime” while doing PD in Texas about 8 years ago. Her newest book “Text Structures from the Masters” came out with even more resources for them. Such a good way to help students develop their writing organization using mentor texts. Thanks for sharing.


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