Word choice is a delicate, yet important thing in any piece of writing. It makes our writing colorful! I've gone on about "shades of meaning" in a previous post. I've found that my students are eager to use "razzle dazzle words" in their writing, but they need to actually understand the new words they choose to use before using them! Fourth graders also tend to focus more on sounding "fancy" than specific, and this is one of the habits I hope to change in my incoming group of fourth graders. With these goals in mind, I created a new tool for my writing traits toolbox:
You know how ideas just come to you sometimes? This is one of the most exciting things that can happen inside a "teacher brain," and I imagine it's not much different for our students! The other day, I was reflecting on one of the most challenging writing objectives that my students struggle with year after year: transition words! (The proof is in the pudding, as you can see a prior blogpost!) I was trying to think of a good metaphor for transitions; one that my students could relate to.
Transitions are like... dogs?
Hitting your head against the wall repeatedly? Although some might feel differently, no.
Then it hit me: "Transitions words are like traffic signals; they are essential to keeping a smooth 'flow!' Without appropriate transitions, the reader may get lost, lose interest, or simply CRASH into confusion before reaching their destination (the end of the story)!"
I envisioned reenacting this comparison with some of my son's toy cars to my class, a new anchor chart, and of course, new activities! Of course, I had to spread the wealth.
In addition to building my students' confidence with using natural transitions in their own writing, I know these task cards will also serve for great test prep! I hope this activity also helps YOUR students write stories that their readers can "navigate" through easily! Just watch out for those speed bumps! (I haven't yet figured out how to work that one into the metaphor...)