Go on a Writing Exploration!

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Objective

SWBAT identify writing process stages and list ways that the work of other authors can help them improve their own writing.

Big Idea

Collaborate to explore the writing of other authors and improve your writing!

Materials

  • 'Treasure Map' student worksheet
  • 'Books About Writing' Powerpoint (see resources below)
  • From the list of Children's Books about Writing - get one book for each group
  • What Do Authors Do? by Eileen Christelow (for teacher demonstration)
  • whiteboard set up
  • Writing Process poster or bulletin board with the steps (see resources below)
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: writing, brainstorm, edit, organize, revise, draft, writing process, publish

 

I'm using these children's books about writing to provide concrete examples from real texts for our writing. As we carefully analyze how other authors present ideas about the writing process, students can use this information, as well as prior knowledge and experience to internalize this process and use it to construct their own writing piece.

I presented the idea about 'the writing process' to my students in an earlier lesson, And the Author is ... Using Digital Tools for Writing. If your students are not familiar with the vocabulary and process, you may want to introduce those concepts before this lesson.

Get Excited!

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words)

 

Bring in background knowledge and gain student interest

 

  • Show the 'Books About Writing' powerpoint to get some excitement and familiarity.  
  • "Today we are going to do some exploration about writing! The early explorers looked all per and what did they find? If we explored books about writing, what might we find?" Prompt with 'authors' 'ideas' 'books'.... Maybe authors, ideas or information about the writing process."  (slide 2-3)
  • "Has anyone ever read any of these books? These books are all about writing!" (slide 4)
  • "These books show us different ideas about writing." (slides 5-7)
  • "To help us with our exploration, I brought these books about writing. These authors all wrote books about 'how to write books' - the 'writing process."
  • "Take a look at this short video." (slide 8 has the link)"  I played about 30 seconds just to get a taste of it.  "What kind of writing are Frog and Toad talking about?"

 

Most of my kids had read or seen at least one of these books and they loved seeing the covers! This was a great segway to talk about writing - that authors wrote books about writing. The kids didn't realize these books were about the writing process - they just liked the books. It was fun to put the books together on the powerpoint so the kids could see how these authors were trying to help other authors write!

Teachers' Turn

15 minutes

Explain the task  

  • "Today we'll explore some of these books that other authors write to see what we can learn from them. Their 'treasure' at the end of the book is showing us how to write."
  • "In all of these books, the authors are going through the writing process.  What is the writing process? Remember our writing process poster?" Refer to it and review the parts - you'll look for them during the activity next.. 

 

Students who can learn to use the writing process take an important step towards producing quality writing pieces. With guidance and support from adults and peers, they learn to focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by brainstorming, organizing, drafting, revising, editing, and rewriting. (W.2.5) This process does not come naturally to them. Students tend to write ideas quickly and want to be done, often without organization or revisions. Modeling a formal writing process and practicing these skills will allow them to begin to internalize the process, planning before they put pencil to paper, considering the organization as well as making revisions and edits before producing a final piece.

 

Modeling - Page through/Read the book and write ideas on the board

  • "I picked this book called What Do Authors Do?  I'm going to read this book and explore the ideas. I'll make a list of ways to be a good writer and maybe at the end the author will show me the secret treasure to good writing!"

As I model, I'm modeling how to garner ideas from the book. The kids will put their ideas on a treasure map. I am using the vocabulary for the writing process as I model. The kids have been exposed to this before, but I'll continue to use this vocabulary so they can hear it as I look at the author's ideas.

  • "I'll start by brainstorming some ways on the board that authors go through the writing process. I'll organize the ideas as I look for them and edit any mistakes by crossing them off."
  • As you look and read the book, pull out ideas...'This writer makes lists - I'll write that." 

 

Guided Practice

  • "Help me get some more ideas about writing as I look through the book...""This writer gets ideas from people. Oh, she crosses off mistakes.""This writer reads her draft to her family."
  • "Ohhh, this writer gets ideas from her pets! I'll add that too!"
Sum it up
  • "So what did I learn about writing from researching in this book? What was the secret treasure? Authors go through the writing process - you are all authors too!"
  • "You can make mistakes, get ideas from those around you and make lists and stories!"
  • Here's the ideas that I put on the completed whiteboard.

Students' Turn to Write

20 minutes

 Explain the task

  • "Now it's your turn to be the explorers. In small groups, you'll look at how an author suggests ways to write. Here are some books from other authors who have ideas about the writing process." 
  • "Instead of making a list on chart paper, you can explore and put the ideas about writing on the map. Write down one idea on each space on the explorer map. Work together to think about how the author follows the writing process. You are done when you have all of the spaces on the map filled in."
  • "Each group will get a book to share with a map and pencil. Let's remember the 'Group Rules' poster 
    • "Pick jobs in your groups - who is the reporter? who is the leader, who is the timekeeper?."  If your students have not worked collaboratively before or not assigned group roles, you may have to explain this in more detail or pick the roles for this lesson.
  • "Look over the book and write your ideas on your map." 
    • "What can you say about the author using the writing process?"
    • "Look at the illustrations and captions. You may not have time to read it all but look for ideas that the author shares about the writing process."
  • You have 10 minutes to work together in your group."
  • Here's an example of a completed group worksheet.


As I transition to teaching the Common Core Standards, I want my instruction to shift towards providing students with more opportunities to learn from each other (not just me) through collaboration.  Today, students participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about writing topics and follow agreed upon rules for discussion (SL.2.1)  They are expected to work together to accomplish a goal, accept roles in the group and contribute toward a final project.

Apply What You've Learned!

10 minutes

Share & Reflect

  •  "Now I need one person from each group to come up and share.  Show your book, tell the title and the author.  Then tell us what you learned about the writing process."
  • "Any new ideas about the writing process can be added to my chart."
  • Have the kids share, checking to see if there are new ideas or if any ideas about the writing process seem to repeat throughout the books.

 

Sum up the lesson

  • "Many of the authors did have the same ideas.” Reference the ones that were repeated...
    • authors work hard...writing is a process, authors make mistakes, writing has a purpose....
    • "It seems that writing is hard work and there are many of the same steps to the process - brainstorm, draft, organize, edit, revise, and publish."  
  • "You did a great job exploring these books with your group.  I'll put up these chart about the Writing Process. I'm sure we'll be using it gain this year as we write."

 

Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could scaffolded up or down for students of varying academic abilities. I did mix up the students in a group (high and low writers) because I believe kids can learn from each other, regardless of their ability.

With my special education students, I made sure they were not the 'recorder' of the group, but they could fulfill another role, such as timekeeper or reporter.   They were very good (sometimes better than the other kids) at using the illustrations to get information from the books.  

For higher level writers/readers, that student could read the story, if time, or be the recorder. Because this lesson involves more brainstorming than formal writing, I believe that students are fairly equal, regardless of their academic ability.