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Best-of-Smekens Writing Conference:
Writing Remix 2019


Modes & Genres


Know the Narrative Non-Negotiables

Acknowledge the relevance of narrative

Define the shape of stories

Identify the planning tool your students are most familiar with.

3-Box | 5-Box | 9-Box | 12-Box

Plot Exposition Map | Ride the Story Plot

Plan the character’s problem and solution.

Start with the middle—the problem

Stretch the middle

Name and define the four types of problems or conflicts.

Stretch the middle and create rising action with tension. Make the problem bigger, harder, or more impossible to solve.

Orient the reader with a beginning

Provide only the most essential character and setting details.

Video of Mini-Lesson & Activity Sort

Download student writing samples with strong introductions and conclusions


Teach Developmentally-Appropriate Writing in the Primary Grades

Connect the writing purposes with developmental stages

Picture-writing counts

Picture writing provides opportunities for students to learn about communicating with details. Kids who draw with details will become kids who write with details.

Draw accurate shapes

Before students can draw shapes independently, they will need the extra support that tracing allows. Art for Kids is a YouTube channel where a dad draws side-by-side with one of his children, showing how to draw simple (sometimes seasonal) objects line by line.

Indicate voice with facial expressions

Add voice with speech bubbles/dialogue

Young writers can play with spoken words in speech bubbles using this single frame or 4-framed template. The speech/dialogue can abandon the formal and traditional sentence structure they use in sentences below their pictures.

Include beginning, middle, end details

Transition to list writing

Target list-making as a writing genre

Before early writers create sentences, they write words. Instead of turning those few words into a simple sentence, encourage students to write with more details and more words. Make the unit about creating lists of information that include specific details, with precise word choice, all on one topic.