Help Young Writers Find Personal Topics

Help Young Writers Find Personal Topics
Teaching the Youngest Writers
Marcia S. Freeman
Excerpted, with permission from

youngest.jpgThe daily writing workshop can take your students from emergent to elaborate writers. Here’s one workshop activity that will get your students brainstorming the topics they want to write about.

Model how to list personal expertise topics for your students. List things you know about, places you have been, things you can do.

Include a few science/social studies topics your students have
studied in class, but mainly list out-of-school knowledge and activities: fishing, making toast, biking, jumping rope, dogs, grandmother, whales, singing, drawing pigs, dancing, coloring books,
fire engines, museum, park, TV programs, shopping, …

Give your students each a long strip of card stock (a list should look and feel like a list) and help them write a list of their personal expertise. Emergent writers can construct one with pictures —
pasted or drawn. Provide time for students to listen to each other’s lists. Interview those who are having difficulty making one. Ask them about their games, their chores, their after-school activities. Help them find the things about which they have personal knowledge and experience.