I'm excited to share something that has been working well in my classroom. I've always struggled with finding something meaningful but low-prep for my high achievers to do while I teach whole group lessons on concepts that they have already mastered. I want it to be meaningful and challenging, but still independent so that they could complete the work with minimal support.
So in the morning, when we meet as a class and do a whole group lesson on letter names, sounds, simple sight words and read our poem of the week, my PM Benchmark 8+ readers are asked to write. Last year, I was having this group write about anything they wanted but found that the time was not being used very effectively. Earlier this year, my teaching partner told me about how she was getting her students to write a response to a book from their book box (independent reading box). She said that it had been working really well in her class, so I thought I would give that a try!
So this year, their job is to get their book box (independent reading box, which have books at their reading level), pick a book they have read and write a response to the book in their Independent Writing Book.
I used a duo-tang and put a simple label on the front:
And I stapled a sheet with some questions they could answer for both fiction and non-fiction texts and some sentence starters to scaffold their writing for the kids who need it on the front cover. Most kids start by practicing responding about their favourite part of the book.
I always ask them to start with their name, date and title of the book.
Then they write their sentences. I'm encouraging this group to write 2+ sentences so I'm giving them 1 page with the space for a picture and 2 pages with just lines after it to give them lots of space to write!
I also added a personal word wall to the back of their duo-tangs. Here I add words that are misspelled often so that the student can use it as a resource the next time they are writing the word.
At the end of the month I take out all of the pages from that month and staple it to a writing cover for that month. I have them write their name on it and they can colour the cover if they wish! Then they get to take it home to share it with their families.
I have 5 students who are 8+ (PM Benchmark) and do independent writing daily. They work for about 15-20 minutes a day while the rest of the class is participating in whole group instruction. I was hesitant to start this at first... responding to a book seemed like a challenging task! But they have really blown me away and have exceeded my expectations in terms of independence and being on-task! I try to meet with them each week to check in on their progress and give them some descriptive feedback, do some editing together and set goals during centre time.
What do you think? Do you think this is something that your high achievers might benefit from? I have compiled all of my independent writing printables into one file. You can check it out on TpT by clicking here or on the images below:
What do you do with your high achievers? How do you extend their learning?