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Publishing Party: Graduating from Informational Essay Writing

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As March comes to a close, it is safe to say that it was another successful month full of learning and growth! As writers, the students accomplished writing narratives that carefully and thoughtfully illustrated each of their chosen “small moments.” However, it was clear that by our publishing party that they were ready to move on to the next unit of writing!

Over the course of this semester the students had the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the art of nonfiction writing. I personally enjoy teaching this unit because it is an opportunity for students to try a different genre of writing, while also having them work on another important skill–researching. As a result, I was pleased to see the positive reaction the students had when they found out they would be writing informational essays–they were all enthusiastic and cheered!

In accordance to all of our writing units, the students would undergo the whole writing process: brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing/peer editing, and finally publishing. As I mentioned above this writing unit would mainly focus on a different style of writing for the students while also touching upon the important skill of researching. The students had the opportunity to choose any topic that interested them so long as it was “researchable,” which meant there was both print and online sources they could take information from. With full control of the topics they could write about I was not surprised to see the wide range of interesting historical events, important people, notable inventions the students wanted to talk about.

While the researching portion of this writing unit was tedious the students powered through it. I enjoyed listening to the new bits of information and facts the students learned about each of their chosen topics, which they eagerly shared with me and their other peers each day during ELA.

As the students moved on from brainstorming and researching, our Grade 4 writers found themselves at the next point of the writing process–drafting. During this stage, students were tasked to gather all their information to look for the “bigger picture” to see what they would want to ultimately teach their peers or future readers. This task helped the students narrow their focus and also helped them segregate their research into two groups: information and facts that they could use and information and facts that they would not use.

Drafting was also a difficult part of the writing process, since they were encouraged to further deepen their understanding of their topics. As researchers, the students were presented with a lot of information. Now with all of their collected data, they needed to analyze and come to a conclusion on what all the information they were given meant to them. This sometimes left the students stumped. Although, as a whole grade level they were ultimately able to reach a new understanding and appreciation for their topics in the end.

Once students neared the end of the writing process–some revising and others editing. A helpful trick the students learned was reading their work out loud. Not only were students able to practice their reading fluency and accuracy, but they were also able to catch all of the mistakes they may have not seen the first time around! During the revision stage, students were reminded that their writing did not need to be perfect and that it was always a work in progress. As a result, the students moved information around, deleted unnecessary words or sentences, and sometimes added more of their own thoughts on their chosen topic. With editing, students were given a check list that they used both on their own writing and others to ensure that all the writing conventions were being followed: spelling, capitalization, punctuation.

Before finally printing out and publishing their written pieces, the students needed to add some final touches. Students were able to add title pages, a table of contents, and of course photos/illustrations to enrich their informational essays. I truly enjoyed watching the students go through the whole process! As writers, it is easy to get stuck and remain stuck, but our Grade 4 students have definitely shown resilience when it came to each obstacle they were faced with. Through every struggle the students experienced, there was a big leap of growth that followed after. And for that, I am very proud of what these writers accomplished and how far they have come!

To finish of this writing unit, the students were given a well deserved publishing party! However, this publishing party had a special twist as they were each able officially “graduate” and were now certified experts in each of their chosen fields! With a wide range of snacks and sweets to pick from, the students gathered together each day to listen to their classmates read aloud their finished published pieces with pride. It was a wonderful sight to see and a treat to hear each of them read their writing aloud. A special thank you to the parents who help support their children at home with their writing and also provided all the wonderful treats that we happily ate and enjoyed in school! As writers I can proudly say we are officially going onwards and upwards from here on out!

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