Karen Filewych

Karen has twenty-five years of educational experience as an elementary teacher, school administrator, and language arts consultant. She enjoys sharing her love of literacy with teachers and students. She is now booking professional development for teachers and writing residencies for students for the 2021-2022 school year!

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Words Change Worlds

"When teaching grade one I noticed how language — specifically learning to read and write — empowered students. This idea has captivated me since. Join me in my quest to change the world through words."
-Karen Filewych

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with Purpose

Simple classroom techniques to help students make connections, think critically, and construct meaning. Freewriting with Purpose provides writing ideas across the curriculum helping students make meaning in all disciplines of study.

This week on the Words Change Worlds blog

Scaffold for Success

Last week, I had the pleasure of teaching a fantastic grade two class. The day before I was with them, their teacher read How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Then, I read The Invisible Boy giving them two jobs as I read: 1) pay close attention to the pictures in The Invisible Boy and 2) think about some similarities between the two books.

As we talked through the two stories afterwards, the students noticed that both stories involved a significant change in the main character and they easily grasped the concept of a transformation story.

After completing the transformation story graphic organizer about the Grinch, the students excitedly planned their own stories using the same graphic organizer. That was enough for day one!

Thankfully, I was welcomed back into their classroom the following day. To scaffold the writing of their stories, I used a three-page approach which directly correlates to the graphic organizer. On page one, I first encouraged the students to draw the opening scene of their stories clearly showing the situation and the emotion of the character at the beginning. I referred back to our mentor texts before they began writing and whenever necessary during their writing. Enough for day two!

The students completed the transforming event on page two, and the end of the story on page three, each on subsequent days, again referring back to the mentor texts as necessary.

Eventually, they’ll add a blank page to the front where they can draw the cover of their books and put their own names as author and illustrator: voila, their very only transformation stories.

When our instruction scaffolds the writing process in this way, all students find success. Perhaps most importantly, their confidence increases and they begin to believe in themselves as writers. Go slow to go far!

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