This is the first lesson in writing for the year. It is important to get a sense of where students are at in their writing development. One way to do this is to ask students to complete an on-demand writing assessment.
First, I ask students a variety of questions to get a gist of what kind of writing they have done before. The respond by raising their hands and sharing and then putting up a thumb if they agree with what someone has shared. For example, I ask students specifically to put a thumbs up if they wrote reports or multiple paragraph pieces. I also ask them how they went about writing it, what were the parts of writing.
By starting with these questions, I also engage students in recalling what they know about writing and how to write which might encourage them to use those skills in this lesson's task.
After they share, I tell them what they will be doing in 4th grade. I explain that they will be writing multiple stories and nonfiction writing that has multiple paragraphs. I then ask them if they have ever heard of the writing process.
If they have heard of it, I ask students to share what they know and then record it on something for the whole class to see, such as a poster or the white board. If they have not heard about it or can describe it, I list them and briefly explain each one. This is also to give them something to reference as they write their draft.
After introducing the lesson, i prepare them for the on-demand writing task. I tell students that they are going to particpate in a beginning of the year assessment of their writing so that I can see what they know how to do already. The prompt is for them to tell me a personal narrative or a small moment story of something that has happened on the first day of school. I explain that writers typical start with a brainstorm and finish with publishing and the parts in the middle often happens in any order that helps them do their best writing.
I tell them that I want to see thier brainstorm, their draft, notes, such as revisions and editing, on thier draft and finally a published piece of writing.
I show them how I might brainstorm events that happened on the first day and write the list of all of them to see. I then show them how I select one and think about what happened first before I start writing it down.
I chose a second idea from my brainstormed list and ask them to help me figure out how I would start. It seems like one of the more challenging task is thinking about how to start. Once students have started writing, they are motivated to keep writing, they have momentum. Through providing examples on how to start writing, students practice the skills before having to do them on their own.
Before sending them to begin their own writing process, I ask students if them have any questions. If they do, I spend a few more moments answering them and clarifying directions and then I send them to write.
As they are writing, I walk around to check in on how they are doing and offer encouragement for those that are struggling to think of ideas. At about 20 minutes, many students are ready to revise/edit. I stop the class when most students have completed their draft. I remind students that there is a difference between revising and editing.
I give them a few examples of revisions I might make to a hypothetical piece of writing. Revising happens when writers change ideas, phrases, words, to change meaning. Editing happens when writers correct conventions, spelling, and grammar issues. I ask them to share one example. Or if no one wants to share, I ask a student if I can use their writing as an example.
I then give students time to finish.
When there is 10 minutes left, I ask students to rewrite their story as a way of publishing their story.
When the time for writing is up, I ask students to share out loud the five steps of writing. I tell them that the class will continue to practice these steps and vow to remind them as we work on writing throughout the year.