Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Writing Kiosks Unveiled

I am having such conflicted feelings this week. First, holy bagumba! (Have you read Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo? If not, do it!) I can't believe it's already almost Thanksgiving Break! And second, holy bagumba! Why isn't it Thanksgiving Break already?! Ha! Seriously, though. I really do need a break. It has been a fantastically and amazingly challenging year so far. So many things are going well, and yet, so many things are extra difficult. I guess that's the way it goes.

This week I had one of the successful experiences, so I thought I would share. I have posted about the idea of writing kiosks before, but this is a post about my actual kiosks and how I use them. Now, they are nothing pretty, but I can tell you that all 60 of my students find them engaging.

Here is what they look like:







They are made from tri-fold presentation boards cut into thirds. The side pockets are just card stock taped on the edges with clear packing tape. In the middle goes the title and reference material. In the side pockets are various ways to practice the targeted skill. I use materials I either make myself or find from the awesome teachers on Teachers Pay Teachers. I use everything from task cards to photos to the students' own writing in the practice.

First of all, there has been direct instruction in the form of mini-lessons on every topic. Writing kiosks are NOT for teaching new material. They are for practicing targeted skills, because we all know that practice makes perfect...or at least better writers.

As I unveiled the kiosks to the sounds of oohs and ahhs (seriously, you'd have thought fireworks were going off in the classroom), I made sure to set clear expectations. I had already put students into groups of 2-4 and assigned them a starting kiosk. My set of expectations looks something like this:

1. Stay in your assigned kiosk.
2. Complete the activity at your kiosk.
3. Voice level at a 1 or 2.
4. If you finish the activity early, work on your own writing.
5. Turn in your kiosk work to your class tray.

I went over the expectations, told the students their starting kiosk, and was ready to monitor and redirect like crazy. But something pretty amazing happened. It was nearly silent. EVERY student (and I do mean every student...even that really reluctant one) was in their assigned kiosk and working intently on an activity. There were a few questions here and there, but lots of excellent practice was happening. The activities I have included in these are designed to take about 20 minutes to complete, so we did 20 minute rotations.

Now, the students are asking to do them again and again. We will be doing kiosk this whole week so everyone can get to all the kiosks. But they will certainly make additional appearances throughout the rest of the year. I will change up topics and activities as needed, but I do believe we have discovered a successful strategy! And for that, I am truly thankful.

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