Students have had practice writing details for paragraphs in a previous taught lesson that focused on the "Meat and Potatoes" of their lesson. Now we are going to use some of those details to form an easy topic sentence and then follow it with a closing one.
We are beginning the opening chapter in our history book. The essential question for it is "What is History?" To help answer that we do various lessons learning about our own history. Since history is merely a collection of stories, what better way to begin than with our own stories.
Students were given three questions to ask their parents about their name: Why they chose their child's name? Does their name mean something special? Why is the name special?
To practice their writing of details, students used the answers they were given to write three details supported with an explanation. To begin they are going to read their three details and write one sentence that tells me the main topic or idea that connects all three. I find that modeling an example with my own name helps them understand what is expected.
To do this I give my names and explain a reason I was given my name. I make sure to add a second sentence to this one that gives support to my reason. I go on to explain that good details in writing are not one sentence long and the more evidence the better.
As they work on their topic sentence, I work with each student to help them with their writing. When a student feel they have a good start I help them individually create their first topic sentence. In some cases, more help is needed for finding a main idea to focus on. By giving them the topic of the "Story of their Name," it helps take the guess work out of where to start. We can then focus on making it catchy and not boring.
Fourth graders have a good sense of what sounds good, but many times they need to be prompted to read their own writing out loud. Once they do, their judgement on their writing is usually more critical than the feedback I give them.
The closing part of their name story is much easier. I give them a few examples of some closing sentences. The closing for this paragraph is a focus on wrapping up that the paragraph and it needs to be about their name. An easy way to close is to give their own opinion of their name. I model a sentence with my opinion on my name and how it can tie into what I learned.
The closing piece is easier for them. I again turn them loose to try and walk around to assist where needed. When a student finishes, I ask them to allow me to review it and I allows give a reinforcement for what they wrote and one teaching point.
This is their first attempt so I am focusing on restating the paragraph is about into name and their opinion with explanation on it.