Sponsored since 2001 by the Northern Nevada Writing Project -- http://nnwp.org

 
The Web WritingFix    

home | about writingfix | email  

The NNWP celebrates its Consultants who've created websites about teaching and writing:


Corbett's
Always Write
Website
(Grades K-12)



Jodie's
Start to Learn
Website

(Kindergarten)



Holly's
Making Mathematicians
Website

(Grades K-12)



Brian's
Learning is Messy
Blog

(Grades 4-6)



Dena's
Write in the Middle
Website

(Grades 6-8)

Be sure to visit our sponsors:


The NNWP's website

and


NWP's Website

Writing Traits: Teaching the Skills of Conventions
teacher-created resources and lessons...all focused on skills that make up the conventions trait

A modest request from WritingFix: If you appreciate the resources at this website, consider saying "thank you" to the Northern Nevada Writing Project--sponsors of WritingFix--by visiting their Publication Page and ordering any of their wonderful print guides, like their 196-page resource, the Going Deep with 6 Trait Language print guide (pictured at right). Some of the Going Deep with 6 Trait Language guide's resources can be freely accessed below on this page, but the guide features many, many more trait-friendly ideas, lessons, and resources that can only be found in the printed version. All proceeds from guide sales help this website grow.

Each year, the NNWP offers inservice courses designed to help teachers make new and exciting connections with the six traits of writing. The goal of these professional development experiences is to help educators see the value of using traits as their classroom language during writing instruction. When both teachers and students "own" the language of traits enough to discuss them throughout the writing process, writing improves dramatically, and learners can "go deep" as they discover their personal strengths and struggles that come with the process of writing.

Conventions is just one of the six writing traits. In Nevada, it is one of the four traits that is assessed on the fifth grade state writing test. Conventions is a complex trait that should be discussed, explored, and further developed every year that students learn to write in school; both kindergartners and high school seniors can be taught to think about developmentally appropriate skills that are associated with conventions. This page contains conventions lessons and resources that we consider appropriate for sharing with third graders and up. If you are working with primary writers and the six traits, be sure to visit WritingFix's 6 Traits and Primary Writing Homepage.

Conventions Topics and Sub-Skills Explored on this Page

Lessons & Resources:
Punctuation

More to Come!

WritingFix's 6-Trait Poster Set
WritingFix's Conventions Post-Its

A Free Poster Resource for your Classroom
Conventions is represented by the color pink on our poster set.

The roof of a house—though planned from the beginning—is not built first. Think hardest about CONVENTIONS near the end of your process.

  • Click here to open and print WritingFix's seven-page poster set, inspired by the "Building a House" metaphor created by NNWP consultants Dena Harrison, Corbett Harrison, Mary Dunton, Nancy Thomas, and Vivian Olds.

WritingFix offers a free template of Conventions Post-It sized notes. These can either be printed on pink colored paper and cut out and stapled to students' drafts, or you can--if you dare--attempt to print them on real 3 x 3 Post-It Notes.

  • Click here to open/print a sheet of six conventions revision post-its.
  • Click here to visit WritingFix's Post-It homepage, where you can find instruction on printing our post-its on actual Post-It notes.

Return to top of page

Creative Writing and "Conventional Wisdom" -- A Northern Nevada Teacher In-service

 

Return to top of page

Conventions Sub-Skill #1: Spelling
Each of the six writing traits--conventions included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on just one of convention's sub-skill: spelling . A great writing teacher finds the time to teach conventional skills in context, which means the students apply the skills to a piece of writing they are creating, not a piece of writing that a daily oral language drill has provided.
Two Spelling Resources from NNWP Director, Carol Gebhardt

Grocery List Spelling Activities ...students go "shopping" for three different spelling activities, then choose a fourth from the "candy" aisle, if they have time. This activity was created by Carol after her students had exhausted the options on her "Tic-Tac-Toe Spelling" list.


Both these spelling ideas were featured in the NNWP's Going Deep with 6 Trait Langauge Guide. Click here to order one.

Tic-Tac-Toe Spelling Activities ...students create a three-in-a-row tic-tac-toe, using their spelling words from the week. Each week, students must choose a completely different path to follow, which means students have eight different paths they can choose from. On the ninth week, have them do a "four corners" or a "black out."

Ideas Shared from Teacher Users of WritingFix: Teaching Spelling & Writing Simultaneously
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Share with us! Earn a free classroom resource! Spelling during writing instruction is a topic we're determined to develop further. We're looking for a teacher user of WritingFix who is willing to share an activity that links spelling & writing instruction here. Please refer to this teacher-shared idea to see what we think a high-quality submission sounds like. Shared ideas can be directed to: webmaster@writingfix.com. If we post it here, you'll be able to choose from any of the NNWP Publications for us to send to your classroom.

Return to top of page

Conventions Sub-Skill #2: Punctuation
Each of the six writing traits--conventions included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on just one of convention's sub-skill: punctuation. A great writing teacher finds the time to teach conventional skills in context, which means the students apply the skills to a piece of writing they are creating, not a piece of writing that a daily oral language drill has provided.


Innovative Mentor Texts, Lessons, and Prompts for Teaching Punctuation

Three Highly Recommended "Mentor Texts" for
Thinking Creatively about Punctuation:

Robin Pulver's wonderful picture book, Punctuation Takes a Vacation, both personifies and gives voice to the punctuation marks that your students might be struggling to understand. Worksheets on punctuation will probably help teach a third of your students to master punctuation rules; perhaps creative looks at punctuation (like this one) will help your students who would prefer to learn about conventions without filling in worksheets. Click here to access our original WritingFix lesson that uses this book as a mentor text.

Following the success of her first book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference!, author Lynn Truss wrote Twenty-Odd Ducks: Why, every punctuation mark counts! Both these creative books do a marvelous job of showing the ability of a punctuation mars to change the meaning of a sentence or thought. As students study the subtle difference in Truss' contrasting sentences, they just might figure out how to punctuate for meaning.

Four Original WritingFix Prompts/Lessons for
Teaching Commas and Optional Commas:

Five Original WritingFix Lessons/Prompts
for Punctuating Dialogue:


Ideas Shared from Teacher Users of WritingFix: Teaching Punctuation Creatively
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Darla Foster, a Montana teacher, shared this idea with us. We sent her an Six by Six Guide: Traits with the Littlest Writers as our thanks for her taking the time to share back with the WritingFix website. Shared ideas can be sent to: webmaster@writingfix.com.

From Darla: "I wanted to share a book I use when teaching conventions: Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka. I use it to teach or review three things with my students: exclamation points, question marks, and interjections.

"First, I read the book out loud and show the pictures and text. The text is simply the short conversation between two soon-to-be friends and many of the things said are simple one-word interjections or questions.

"We read the book a second time, this time looking at the punctuation and talking about how it influences the way I read the story out loud.

"I read it slowly a third time and the students see neither the words or the pictures; they just listen to my voice. Working with partners, my students attempt to transcribe the entire story and its punctuation."

Return to top of page

Conventions Sub-Skill #3: Parts of Speech

Each of the six writing traits--conventions included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on just one of convention's sub-skill: parts of speech . A great writing teacher finds the time to teach conventional skills in context, which means the students apply the skills to a piece of writing they are creating, not a piece of writing that a daily oral language drill has provided.


Serendipitous Parts of Speech Prompts
(Visit WritingFix's entire Right-Brained Prompt Collection)
Authors Brian Cleary and Ruth Heller
(Awesome Classroom "Mentor Texts" about the parts of speech:)

Teaching Adverbs:

These eight Who/What/When/Where Games not only teach students about sentence fluency, but they also teach students how to control adverbs in their writing:

Teaching Superlatives:

Superlatives are special adjectives, and we identify them in two of our Great Sentence Creator Games. The Great Sentence Prompts ask students to create one great sentence that inspires an original story, then to "hide" the sentence in the story they create. During response time, students can challenge each other to find the original great sentence hidden in their story.

Teaching Phrases & Clauses:

This unique interactive prompt teaches the difference between gerunds and participle phrases.


Nouns?
Are you more of a Cleary lover or Heller-phile?

Both Brian Cleary's A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink: What Is a Noun? and Ruth Heller's Merry-Go-Round celebrate and explore the noun as a part of speech.

Which of these authors strikes your fancy the best? Or is there room on your classroom bookshelf for both these titles, so that your students can compare and contrast the books while learning about nouns?


Verbs?
Do you prefer Cleary's or love Heller's picture books?

Both Brian Cleary's To Root to Toot to Parachute: What Is a Verb? and Ruth Heller's Kites Sail High examine verbs and help students think about this part of speech's power in their sentences.

Which of these two authors strikes your fancy the best? Or is there room on your classroom bookshelf for both these titles, so that your students can compare and contrast the books while learning about verbs.


Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases?
Is Cleary on top or is Heller above him?

Both Brian Cleary's Under, Over, by the Clover: What Is a Preposition? and Ruth Heller's Behind the Mask: A Book about Prepositions examine prepositions and the structure of prepositional phrases.

Which of these two authors strikes your fancy the best? Or is there room on your classroom bookshelf for both these titles, so that your students can compare and contrast the books while learning about prepositions.


Adjectives?
Is Cleary better or Heller more preferable?

Both Brian Cleary's Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What Is an Adjective? and Ruth Heller's Many Luscious Lollipops examine the power of choosing interesting and memorable adjectives.

Which of these two authors strikes your fancy the best? Or is there room on your classroom bookshelf for both these titles, so that your students can compare and contrast the books while learning about adjectives.


Pronouns?
Are you liking him or her best?

Both Brian Cleary's I And You And Don't Forget Who: What Is a Pronoun? and Ruth Heller's Mine, All Mine! examine pronouns and the many forms they can take.

Which of these two authors strikes your fancy the best? Or is there room on your classroom bookshelf for both these titles, so that your students can compare and contrast the books while learning about pronouns.


 

Adverbs?
Is Cleary clearly better or is Heller truly the superior author?

Both Brian Cleary's Dearly, Nearly, Insincerely: What Is an Adverb? and Ruth Heller's Up, Up and Away show the many different forms that adverbs can take in a sentence.

Which of these two authors strikes your fancy the best? Or is there room on your classroom bookshelf for both these titles, so that your students can compare and contrast the books while learning about adverbs.


Ideas Shared from Teacher Users of WritingFix: Creative Teaching of the Parts of Speech
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Share with us! Earn a free classroom resource! Teaching the Parts of Speech is a topic we're determined to develop further on this page. We're looking for a teacher user of WritingFix who is willing to share an activity that links parts of speech & writing instruction here. Please refer to this teacher-shared idea to see what we think a high-quality submission sounds like. Shared ideas can be directed to: webmaster@writingfix.com. If we post it here, you'll be able to choose from any of the NNWP Publications for us to send to your classroom.

Return to top of page

Conventions Sub-Skill #4: Grammar
Each of the six writing traits--conventions included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on just one of convention's sub-skill: grammar in context. A great writing teacher finds the time to teach conventional skills in context, which means the students apply the skills to a piece of writing they are creating, not a piece of writing that a daily oral language drill has provided.


A WritingFix Celebration of a Favorite Book:
On the NNWP Bookshelf:

Over the summer of 2009, WritingFix's Webmaster--Corbett Harrison--working with author Barry Lane, built an on-line tribute to Cathy Campbell's book, The Giggly Guide to Grammar. Click here to access this on-line page. The webpage offers complimentary resources from the book, which we are proud to feature on our NNWP bookshelf.


Author Jane Bell Kiester: Caught'Ya!: Grammar With a Giggle, Caught'Ya Again!: More Grammar With a Giggle, and Giggles in the Middle are three excellent resources for making the teaching of grammar and mechanics fun and interesting to your students. While typical "Daily Oral Language" exercises throw random, unrelated sentences to your students to correct, Kiester builds a story from the sentences she presents for students to correct and discuss. Your students will be excited to see the next sentence of the unfolding story that Kiester's books provide.


Ideas Shared from Teacher Users of WritingFix: Creative Teaching of Grammar
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Bonnie Hayman, a Mississippi teacher, shared this idea with us. We sent her an Secondary Writing Guide as our thanks for her taking the time to share back with the WritingFix website. Shared ideas can be sent to: webmaster@writingfix.com.

"I'd like to recommend Karen Elizabeth Gordon's The Deluxe Transitive Vampire for your conventions page at WritingFix.

"Amazing sentences about mastadons, gargoyles, murderers, and vampires (just to name a few) populate this fabulous book on grammar. Period-inspired drawings and romantic sentences illustrate grammatical concepts and terminology.

"We use Gordon's book to complement our dull, district-required grammar text book, which is a terribly dull collection of exercises. After we hear about some grammatical concept--like appositives or reflexive pronouns or direct objects--from the required text, I bring out the sentences and explanations from Transitive Vampire.

"Then we have a contest to see who can combine the new grammatical knowledge with Gordon's sentence style. I am always amazed at what powerful and interesting sentences my students create. Gordon's voice is an interesting one to imitate!"

Return to top of page

Conventions Sub-Skill #5: A Community of Editors

Below, we share a popular article from the NNWP's Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Guide on creating a Community of Editors.


Creating a Community of Editors
from Corbett Harrison, Northern Nevada Writing Project

The “Community of Editors” was an idea I conceived during a bout of insomnia, as I stressed over the growing pile of un-graded essays that awaited me on the kitchen table. I tossed and turned over ideas to make my reading responsibilities less time-consuming in my still-developing concept of writer’s workshop. I never thought the idea I hatched up one night would actually work, but it did. I’m so glad I tried it and developed it further over three or four years.

I was a pretty young teacher back then, and I worked much harder than I should have. I expected my students to end their school year with writing portfolios that were as conventionally flawless as possible. Karen McGee had once said, “If it goes in the portfolio or hangs on the wall, you make sure it is as flawless as possible with its conventions.” I agreed with that notion, and I took it to heart. I didn’t trust my students enough to edit one another’s papers and end up with flawless portfolios, and they certainly weren’t taught to trust each other as editors, so most of my response time on their drafts was focused on the editing. I would have preferred to be reading for the other five writing traits, but alas, “conventional wisdom” was my forte, and my students knew it. So I became the editor as well as the final evaluator for every one of their papers. I was always behind in my reading of their papers. I dreamed of a classroom where students could competently take one of those duties away from me. I tossed and turned at night and thought of what that might look like.

Then I heard two students exchanging papers one day during workshop. “I shouldn’t read your paper,” one student said. “Look at all the comma splices I got on my last draft.”

“Just read it for spelling then,” the other student said, forcing her paper on the first’s desk. “You’re a much better speller than me.”

I thought of that conversation during my insomnia. I asked, “What if I taught my students that conventions was about five or six very different sub-skills, and that no one (not even me) was a genuine expert on all of them? What if my students all selected the one skill in conventions (spelling, for example) that they felt the most competent with? What if I required all of them to serve as a classroom editor JUST for that one self-selected skill?”

(Click here to open/print this entire article.)

Return to top of page

Copyright 2012 - The Northern Nevada Writing Project and WritingFix- All Rights Reserved

home ] [ contact ] [ about writingfix ]