Teacher Tip Tuesday

Once again today’s teacher tip is a strategy that was shared by one of the facilitators from the Millersville Writing Institute.

It is called…

Writing to the “X”: Building Writing Stamina and Practicing the Art of Revision

Writing to the X is a simple strategy that leaves your student writers hungry to write while building stamina and working on revision.  So many times in the classroom there will be students who just cannot get into the flow of writing. Or, there are those students who are the “one and done” type of writer.  Quite simply, they write one piece and that is their final draft. No, no, no, we can’t have that! Enter Writing to the X!

How Writing to the X Works:

Day 1

  • Start with a blank sheet of paper and instruct the students to mark an X on the paper. As the teacher, you can decide where will be the best place for the students to mark the X.  Keep in mind, the students will not write past this line during the initial lesson.  I’m going to suggest that the students place the X halfway between the first hole and the second hole of the notebook paper and then draw a horizontal across the paper.

  • Show the photo prompt.

What does the writer see, hear, and feel when they view the photo?

What connections can the writer make with the photo?

  • Now have the students write.  The writing can take on any form, whether it is persuasive, informative, or narrative.  The student does not even need to write in complete sentences.  They can jot down a string of words, whatever flows when they see the illustration, but they are only writing to the X! Remember the goal of Writing to the X is to build writing stamina, practice the art of revision, and LEAVE THEM HUNGRY TO WRITE MORE!
  • Have the students share what they wrote.  This can be done with a partner or the students can use circulate the classroom and share with several classmates.  I like to call the latter style of sharing the Dinner Party because the students are actually mingling with their classmates.  The key during the sharing is the verbal interaction.  There should be no writing during the sharing.  After the sharing, the students should put their notebook away.  That’s it for today.  Remember, leave them hungry to write!

Day 2

  • Start with a blank piece of paper and place a new X on the paper. This time the X can be between the second and third hole of the notebook paper and then have the students draw a horizontal line.
  • The students will need their writing piece from day 1.  Show the photo again.  Now the students can think about the sharing from day 1 and steal some ideas or thoughts from the sharing of the previous lesson.  That’s right, they can steal ideas!  They should also work on revising and adding to the piece. But, they can only write to the X!
  • Share again.  No writing! Leave them hungry to write for the next lesson!

Day 3

  • Repeat the process, this time have the students fill up an entire blank sheet of paper.
  • Continue to work through the writing process to create a final draft.

Variation on this lesson:

  • Instead of writing to the X you might want to set a timer and have the students write for a specific amount of time.  Maybe three minutes the first day, six minutes the second day, and continue to increase the time accordingly! Most of all, be sure to leave them hungry to write more!
  • Writing to the X can be a sponge activity to fill up those odd gaps of time in the schedule.  Maybe you want to do two or three day 1 activities.  Then on the day 2 lesson the students will have a choice. They can choose which piece they want to continue to write and revise.  

Remember, good writers need to be reflective, observant, use their senses, and they need to read!!!

Great Readers=Great Writers

Great Writers=Great Readers

A Balanced Equation!

Food for Thought:

How might you use Writing to the X with your students?  How might you modify the lesson?  How might you enhance the lesson to meet the needs of your students?

Sneak Peak:

Next Tuesday’s Teacher Tip will be a prewriting activity for persuasive writing.  Thanks for visiting!


4 thoughts on “Teacher Tip Tuesday

  1. Sounds like a fun way to motivate reluctant writers. I would definitely opt for the X method over the timer to reduce anxiety about when the timer will go off. Hope to try it soon and let you know how it goes.

  2. Awesome ideas!!! I can see why you loved the Writing Institute so much! Thanks for sharing your learning!! : ) Charlet

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