Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Writing Strategies Goal 4: Focus/Meaning

Welcome to our book study of The Writing Strategies Book:  Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers by Jennifer Serravallo! I am joining forces with some other fabulous teacher bloggers to discuss the writing strategies we come across in this AMAZING professional text!    

Because this book isn't your typical professional development book filled with individual "chapters" of narrative, each teacher blogger will be giving you a glimpse into the 10 goals that are represented in the text.  Each goal area is filled with many valuable strategies that will help you to support and guide your students as they become better writers.  Keep in mind, we are only highlighting a FEW strategies in each section.  There are over 300 strategies in the whole book!

If you missed our other posts you can find them here:

When we read a book or an article, we assume that the author is writing about a particular topic, and that the author communicates a point.  For example, if you were reading an article about global warning, you wouldn't expect the author to all of the sudden include  a section about why their favorite food is pizza.

Students often struggle with the process of focusing their writing on a particular subject or topic.  Serravallo suggests that we teach students that it's important to have a focal point in mind when they begin writing, but they should also be open to revisions as their writing progresses if they find that it is not going as planned.

When choosing this as a goal for your students to work on, you may want to consider students who:

* have a difficult time articulating their focus.

* have a difficult time matching details to their focus topic.

Serravallo recommends conferencing with a student to help determine if they could use support with this goal.  She suggests asking them, "What do you think your piece is mostly about?"

Does their writing reflect their answer? If not, consider this as a possible goal for the student.
Focus Strategy 1: Ask Questions to Focus

This strategy is a great one for those students who tend to have too big or broad a topic as they write.  This might be a student who is writing about every single detail about their summer vacation when they really want to write about learning to swim. It might also include a student who is writing about how to take care of a dog, but also includes lists of breeds or other types of pets.

This strategy has the writer ask themselves questions to narrow it down such as:

What are you really trying to say?
What is the most important thing about my topic?
What details support this particular topic? Which ones go off course?

Focus Strategy 2: Imagine Your Audience and Consider Your Purpose

My students often struggle with writing with their audience in mind, so I was really drawn to this strategy.  

Serravallo suggests that students think about the purpose of their writing.  Are they writing to entertain, inform, or persuade?  Then, they should think specifically about who the reader will be and what they will want to know about.

Focus Strategy 3: Find a Theme in Your Collection

This strategy is great for students who are working on informative or persuasive pieces.  It works best when the student has collected several pieces of research or writing material.

Students look back at the material they have collected to see if they can find patterns in the details that fit together.  They can ask themselves what main idea or ideas they could focus their informational text on.

If you would like to purchase the book mentioned above, you can find it here.

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase using one of my links, which helps to support the blog.  All opinions are my own and I only promote brands and products that I have used myself and truly love.  


Make sure to visit Tried and True Teaching Tools, our official hostess for this week, for even more ideas!

If you would like to link up your own blog posts about this book, feel free to do so in the linky below!  Don't forget to check out the other bloggers' posts as well as they write them for even more ideas!

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